Sunday, November 25, 2007


My parents divorced when I was in the sixth grade, and I was devastated by it.

Divorce laws were much tougher then, and years later my father told me that in order to get the divorce my mother had had to testify that he beat her and he had to "admit" it in court. My younger brother and I knew nothing of this, of course, and would have been amazed at such farce.

I'll always be grateful that my parents handled the divorce and the ensuing years amicably. Never once did either say an unkind word about the other. They usually saw each other very briefly on Saturday or Sunday, when my father came to pick us up and take us somewhere - a movie, a visit to my paternal grandparents, a trip to Boston, and so on. On those occasions their conversations were free of tension.

My mother married a wonderful man, Sam, and we moved twenty or twenty-five miles to a small coastal city (OK, Newburyport, Massachusetts) which my brother and I despise to this day. Not only was it difficult to leave all our friends, but we found that we had moved to a place where the other kids were cliquish and tolerated us only in school and only to the extent that they were required to. Not once were either of us ever invited to go anywhere or join any activity.

We lived there one year and neither of us made a single friend. After school, on weekends, during the summer, we were . . . isolated, I guess is the best way I can put it. We had each other and our parents. We very much looked forward to our father's weekend visits, our only escape from that wretched community.

We then moved another twenty miles or so south, to the city of my mother's birth (and mine, for that matter), and began a much happier life.

Looking back on it, I guess it was during that time that I built a protective shell around myself and acquired a smart-assed attitude. Neither has completely disappeared, even after more than fifty years, but I have mellowed some, become less defensive and less disagreeable.

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