I can’t think of a more apt description of my family. I remember when I first learned this fact about constellations. Not so much the details of where I was or who was there, but that feeling of shock and disbelief, and then resigned acceptance, because I was nothing if not a pragmatic child. All my flights of fancy occurred in my head, not in my life.
We were never close as a family. My parents didn’t seem to have time for us, and if I was completely honest, neither of them should’ve had children. They did what was socially acceptable, what was socially required of them, and we all suffered for it.
My mother never understood us; she was from a different generation, a different era even, and could not fathom why we would not obey her. Could not obey her. She continued to try to force her will upon us; the more she tried, the stauncher we stood, creating a relationship that cannot be salvaged. My father simply didn’t care for anyone – he was a sociopath.
As children, my siblings and I played together well, along with our cousins. But time moves on, and people change. We all changed in different directions, and without a tether to hold us together, we drifted too far to come back. By the time we realized, it was too late. Too late to come back. Coming back took too much energy. It took time, and awareness, and vulnerability, and we were too young to have any of that.
The past is not a strong foundation to build on; our past is an even weaker one. Any relationship we attempt now will be tenuous at best, destructive at worst. We have all become strangers, awkward strangers, uncomfortable strangers. We no longer have anything of significance to say to each other, and run circles around small talk.
I am a bit saddened by these thoughts. When I see tight-knit families, my heart clenches a bit. In a long-ago conversation I had with a friend, she said she would never be homeless, because she had family all over the area. I too have family all over the area, but I would never reach out to them if I were destitute. As she continued talking, I wistfully thought, it must be nice to have people you can unconditionally trust.
My entire life is conditional. If the series of events leading to my existence did not happen in the exact order at the exact time that they did, I would not be here. I would not be me. If events in my childhood happened differently, would I have the family I so desire? Would we all be planets in the same galaxy, orbiting the same sun, instead of distant stars playing constellations, seen only by people on Earth? Who would I be had the conditions for my existence been different?
The point is moot. There is no changing the past. From here on out: Who do I want to be? Which constellations do I want to be a part of?
The quote is from Devil in Spring, by Lisa Kleypas. The graphic was created with a photo by Adrian Pelletier from Unsplash.