Rhetorical question: when traveling on my American passport, how long does it take for extreme drama to come snarling toward me like the most lethal sort of emotional hurricane?
Answer: something like three minutes.
There is no way to predict exactly what will go wrong, but something always does. This winter the controversy is in my so-called private life, and while I normally refrain from comment I am now far too old to obey the rules of etiquette imposed by blood kin.
I do not listen to toxic gossip. I do not recognise the claims of false authority. I do not care what any of my elders think or feel or desire at all when the fights break out. I don't care who is "right" - I don't think anyone is morally correct when they act in anger.
Specifically, I am exasperated and disgusted by the bizarre argument over how to allocate the ashes of a beloved cousin. He committed suicide. That is sufficiently destructive.
There are only a dozen or so of us left and you know what? We are all we have. We hold the memories. We are already scattered, disconnected, and if we do not take care of each other we do not have a family.
Love isn't enough. Love didn't protect Chris when he was little, and it didn't save him in the end. Love is a feeling, not an action. You can feel all sorts of things, but your actions are the only bit that counts.
Nothing factually binds me to Kitsap County, to anyone or anything in the Northwest. I love the landscape, I love my family, but I make a choice when I visit. I won't make that choice if the (real or metaphoric) knives are out. I've been cut enough.
The last time I talked to him Chris said he was proud of me. Why? Because I got out.
I choose to remember that moment. I choose to remember the cousins running through the fields, laughing.
Chris is gone. We can keep moving. We don't need to hurt each other to stay alive.