Saturday, December 20, 2008

Opening The Vault: Part Twenty

As you leave your teenage years behind, one of the things you learn is that growing up means making decisions for yourself. Along the way, you also discover that parental disapproval isn’t necessarily reason enough to make a different choice. I was twenty years old when a long distance love led me to this epiphany.

It was the summer of 1994 and I was eagerly anticipating my first visit to California to see Los Angeles-based beau Mark (a.k.a Sparky). Because my parents were (very) traditionally minded, I intended to let them think I would be sharing a hotel room with a college friend who happened to be visiting L.A. too. But the day before my departure, I decided to come clean.

I now Open The Vault and take you back to the summer of 1994...

New York, NY
August 25th, 1994

I woke up yesterday with a very difficult task in front of me -- telling mom the truth about where I’m staying in California.

After all of these weeks of planning to have Li-Shean cover for me, I finally decided that lying would only jeopardize the trust between my parents and me. And no man is worth that.

Trust Your Instincts: That’s the advice that my college roommate and friend Li-Shean gave me about where to stay during my California trip

So, taking a very deep breath, I ambled bleary-eyed into Mom and Dad’s room, where I found Mom and proceeded to tell her exactly what I’d rehearsed about a dozen times the night before -- that given the already-limited amount of time Sparky and I will have together (re: his work), it made more sense for me to stay with him and skip the expense of a hotel room.

Mom’s expression immediately changed.

“I don’t think it’s proper or appropriate,” she said. “You’re not married to him.”

She told me the choice was mine, but pointedly added that she would have to tell Dad if I ended up at Sparky’s. I pleaded with her not to.

After calling my sister-in-law for some advice, I returned to Mom and said that I would stay at a hotel. I also told her flat out that Sparky and I were going to be traveling up the coast (i.e. sharing a hotel room), making it clear that it was not open for discussion.

* * *

After running around to do some last-minute errands, I called Li-Shean. She told me that I needed to do what was right for my relationship with Sparky and for myself.

With some anxiety but a sense of determination, I went into Mom’s office and told her the torment I’d gone through in making my final choice -- to stay with Sparky.

Mom maintained that she feels it’s improper, but acknowledged--

“You’re a woman now and you need to make your own decisions.”

Mom also said we’re bound to disagree and that I shouldn’t beat myself up over it.

I felt a sudden sense of relief come over me knowing that Mom didn’t think less of me and that -- hoorah!! -- she wasn’t going to tell Dad I’m staying with Sparky.

* * *

My accommodations quandary wasn’t the last Sparky-related impasse for me with my Mom and Dad. Sparky would become a great test of the shifting boundaries between me and my parents, as I struggled to balance my relationship with them with a growing need to stand on my own.

Coming up…celebrating the holidays with good friends and a long-awaited U2 tribute band concert.

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