“We say, that we are obliged to keep up an appearance; certainly we are so, – but if we be obliged to keep up an appearance of being that which we are not, it arises from our having improperly assumed that appearance.”
Growing up, my parents – in particular my father – presented a rather specious theory of his parents. The conclusion of the matter was that his grandparents were very wealthy, perhaps even touching some noble class, now only surviving through his Nana, who would spend her time sitting in a high backed Victorian chair, in the middle of her room, surrounded with English antiquities. In my childhood I only caught glimpses of her twice as she was not receiving company at the time.
It was talked about around our dinner table that his dad started a trucking company in a western province before selling it to care for his growing family by packing up and moving out to this furthest west province to open up an automotive service station. The fact that they were renting a home that was flooded in a great flood that buried most of the city in that western province, wherein they lost most of their possessions, and without insurance were pretty much destitute before heading out of province – that part was missed until later.
In fact, one of the saddest times in my life was watching my father’s growing realization of his own parent’s illusion of grandeur, finding out more and more about his own family of origin and the commonness of it all. There was no noble class, no sustaining wealth, nothing. Watching a son’s pride in his identity crumble away is a painful process. Seeing that it was my father was disorientating. Perhaps if this process for him occurred while we were in this mountain top village our family would have been in a healthier place. But it did not and we were not.
Each of us seemed to be running away from something. My brother and I dealt with these circumstances differently. I was imploding, finding solace in darker and darker mysticism, now being introduced to occultic ways, and he was, well, I have no idea. My mother was hanging out with her new co-workers, occasionally joining up with my father at a work-orientated social event – or at one of his co-worker’s homes where the wives would busy themselves as they did back then while the men talked shop.
All of this was to assist in the falseness of it all, to cope with this mysterious weight that was upon the family. My parents would drink, more than I had noticed them before, and I was intrigued with the allure that it created. It is of no surprise to me that as an addition to my own coping strategy, within the next year and a half, that I began to drink to the same pleasures that they embraced. Rum, Bacardi of course, and Bailey’s liquor, followed by a local favorite beer, produced nearby by the glacier waters.
We woke up each morning and with misery in our eyes we painted our faces with empty smiles to help us get through the day. Never mind the natural beauty of this place, majestic in each season, wildlife freely wandering the streets, European delights, sounds, and sights filling every corner of this village. The miner’s misery and loneliness that they faced deep below this Bavarian place became our misery, and very quickly, the family smiles and laughs were reserved for the social occasions only, for our home held no secrets, only broken dreams and promises.