Going home now is hectic. There is so much yelling and so many messes:

“Dad, Auntie Evie is coming over, hide your stuff pretend you don’t live here.”

“Goozie, stop licking the floor and eating out of the trash.”

“Kathy, don’t call your sister a nutsack, the windows are open and the neighbors
will hear.”

“Mom, make sure dad doesn’t drink my beer.”

I wanted to be a businessman when I was little, just like Dad. He was always going on important
trips, riding in airplanes and flashy rental cars, coming home with stories of luxurious hotel
rooms and power hungry corporate whack jobs. My dad is different now, we’re all different
since the divorce and the bankruptcy and the never ending mental illnesses. When things really
got out of control three years ago, I changed my major from French to Economics and promised
myself that I would eventually earn a pile of money and rescue everyone. I will sell myself
to any corporation who wants me and I will help my little sister pay for college, since her
school’s financial aid office doesn’t feel as bad for her as mine does for me.
I’ll take my overworked, McDonald’s eating mother on a relaxing vacation. I’ll
revive my father’s deteriorating self-esteem and motivation by showing him that his daughter
is successful.

Dad now spends his time half asleep in his underwear, watching Millionaire Matchmaker in a
pile of crumbs and dog hair on his ex-wife’s couch. He has horrible eczema, supposedly
from the stress of unemployment. He feels funny asking my mom, the ex-wife, to put lotion on
his scaly back, so he slathers it on with a rubber spatula duct-taped to a ruler. He’s
pretty innovative for a bum. My dad and I have maintained a great relationship; we’re
able to talk openly about our strange opinions and insecurities. “I mean, I’d be
totally OK with it if you or your sister were a lesbian,” he said to me over Thanksgiving
break. “But I don’t think I could handle having a son who, you know, liked balls
and taking it up the ass and stuff.” I put my Baby-sitters Club book down and thought
of an enlightening Smithie response: “Oh fuck you, you take it up the ass!” He
laughs and shovels more of his omelet concoction into his mouth.

I’m very close to my mom as well; she’s really supportive of my relationship with
my boyfriend of four years. Last summer she told me that she was proud of me for taking my
reproductive health so seriously, but Cameron should thoroughly wrap the condom in toilet paper
before putting it in my trash can. I gave her a puzzled look; she then explained how the previous
day she had pulled some slimy latex out of Goozie’s butt while he was doing his business
in the yard. Trojan makes a quality product; the thing survived my dog’s digestive system
and he didn’t even get pregnant.

I am also a great mentor for my younger sister despite the bullshit and contradictions that
surround us in every aspect of our lives. She’s doing really well at Mount Holyoke, she
even made the police blotter back in November, after she was taken to the emergency room for
alcohol poisoning. “My BAC was .23,” she told me. I gave her some sisterly advice. “Come
on, don’t be a pussy, .23 isn’t that high, You’re not dead til it hits like

Sometimes I feel like the most stable person in my family, even though I’ve probably
scarfed down over a thousand Xanaxes in the past three years. A prominent psychiatrist has
been prescribing it to me, which is even more fucked up than if I had just been buying them
off the street. Mom works too much and feels so guilty that she can’t help me pay for
college. Dad doesn’t work at all, yet feels entitled enough to hog the TV and eat all
the food in the home he left 8 years ago. My sister is having trouble adjusting to college,
and I don’t always know what to tell her because I’m so fucked up as well. Everything
is falling apart but we stay together and give what we can to each other. We may not say the
right things, we may not offer traditional resources to one another, but this is my family,
this is love, this is what has shaped me and what will continue to motivate me in whatever
I end up doing with my life.