Alphabet, a History: O is for Otis (in the Scotch Broom)

I’m copping out a little, but I recently found this post from my very first, now-defunct blog. It’s too good not to share.  I’ve done some minor editing, but it’s pretty much the same.  What you need to know, in terms of setting: I lived at home post-graduation for about three years; my 2003 silver VW Golf was named Otis (and hence why the 2012 charcoal one is Otis, Jr.); and, if you haven’t figured it out yet, my family is crazy.

May 16, 2004: Otis in the Scotch Broom

…I got home about an hour later than I predicted yesterday. I had planned on helping my mom and grandmother plant some scotch broom (a relative of the heather plant), and a mini crepe myrtle in the front garden. I came home, apologized for running late and getting stuck in traffic. So, I go out to help. My mother, incensed that I promised to be home at noon and came in at one, tells me to fuck off. I tried to reason with her and she goes off. I mean, we started a tug-of-war in the middle of the front yard with a heavy old shovel. And instead of being the rational good adult I tend to be, I lost my shit. 

I tend to cry when I’m angry. So I start sobbing… the big, breathless type with tears that blind you.

I grabbed my keys and got in my car. The driveway was blocked by my grandmother’s red Oldsmobile. I revved the engine as my grandmother repeatedly tried to “reason” with my mother and me. My mother comes over and tells me to get out of the car and just help. They kept saying, “What are you going to do, leave? You can’t leave. All you had to do was do what you said and apologize.”
 I was furious, and I stopped for a minute and tried to drive around my grandmother’s car, but it was too close to the bushes on the left, and I scraped her sideview mirror. Moms and grams were screaming at each other at that point.

I backed up.

I waited a few seconds, revved the engine, and drove through the front yard, around my shocked-as-shit mother and grandmother, to the street.

There are some lovely tire tracks in the front yard, but luckily no deep grooves, just some crushed grass. I drove to J’s place, and he dropped his plans and came back home. . .  When I calmed down, I came home and apologized for losing my temper and embarrassing my family in front of the neighbors. They apologized as well. I was too tired to argue anymore.

All of this seems so silly, but in a family of passive-aggressive, manipulative, control freaks, I had laid down the law. No one will tell me what to apologize for and what to feel bad about.

These apologies—empty, solely to placate each other—are horrible.  The fact that I rebelled the way most 15-year-olds do ten years later speaks to just how fucked up the relationships were are [2012 edit].  But that moment was indeed the moment I began to believe that no one would tell me—and I would not longer believe them when they did—what to apologize for anymore.

* * *

Joining 80,000 wordsFog City Writer, Righteous Indigestion, and others, in working through the alphabet with short, memoir-like pieces.

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