As you all know, I’ve been working nonstop on my book. I’ve decided to share with you the first two pages of each chapter, hopefully to suck you in and make you want to buy the book when it’s complete.
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Growing up at my father’s house was boring. I’m kind of amazed our road was even paved, that’s how far out there we were. We lived just outside a town called Mays Landing in New Jersey. South Jersey to be exact. (Yes, we’re really that fickle that we think North and South should be two separate states.)
The town itself wasn’t bad. It had a mall and a Starbucks and a library and all the fixins of a good, local kind of town. But remember, we lived on the outskirts. Down a lonely road off a major highway. WaWa was within five minutes driving time, but forget walking. The only places I could walk to were the old glass mill on the other side of the river (if you count wading through a river as walking), a junkyard at the end of the street, and a bar across the highway. The same bar I was set on when I was a baby while my mother drank herself into oblivion.
We had a big property – plenty of land for me to run around and play, but a small house. I mentioned that my room was really a closet converted into a bedroom. It’s not that we were poor – my dad actually made a decent income – but I always felt like I was raised poor. I was born in the 80s and grew up in the 90s, so looking back on my old DSL internet connection compared to what we have now just makes me feel poor. (Some of you probably have no idea what I’m talking about.) In reality I got nearly everything I could desire, and was in fact a pretty spoiled kid.
But no matter how much shit I had, there was still nothing to do. We lived so far out there that we couldn’t even get basic cable until I was thirteen. So, for fun, I used to pretend that I was running away.
I would get all dressed, find a big stick, and tie a handkerchief to the end like it was my bag. Looking back it doesn’t make any sense, because it was so damn small, but the pictures I have look adorable. My parents completely went along with this fairytale and would perform photo-shoots as I posed along with my big stick and small handkerchief. Then, again for fun, I would start chasing geese. My parents thought it was adorable so instead of stopping me, you know, because of the pain and disaster geese can cause when they bite you, they let me chase them. Then the geese would turn around and chase me back. And my parents still thought it was adorable.
I feel I should be more specific here – in this chapter, by parents I mean my father and stepmother, Viva. Viva was a wonderful woman, I thought. I always pictured us like The Gilmore Girls because we had the same repertoire. We would speak in a language only we could understand (which was really just mumbling with food in our mouths) and poke fun at my dad and just have fun. We would engage in serious, intellectual conversation and get so heated my dad would insist we were yelling at each other, when really we were yelling with each other. She smoked two packs a day and drank a six-pack, but I didn’t realize these things until I was much older.
I do remember, at one point during my childhood, I tried to hide her cigarettes because smoking is bad, but it didn’t work.
My dad, on the other hand, was kind of cold. He’s been a recovered addict since I was two-years-old and I think stopping drinking affected him more than he let on. He would wake up, go to work, come home, mumble some sort of nonsense, and plop down in his spot on the couch in front of the TV and eat too much ice cream.
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