A Sophie’s Choice of Her Own

My mother has always loved the movie Sophie’s Choice.  She was riveted by the decision Sophie had to make, to choose between the death of her daughter and the death of her son.

“It’s impossible to choose,” she said.  “How could I choose between my children?  If I did, it would haunt me for the rest of my life.”

I always thought my mother’s fixation on this movie was based simply on the quality of the movie.  After all, Meryl Streep was the lead actress.  The other day, however, I realized that there was a bit more involved.  Her grandmother had faced a Sophie’s Choice of her own.

The grandmother in question, Conchita Rodriguez, had three children, one of them her father Jesus.  (For those of you who know my cousin Rudy, this is our common forebear.)  In 1913, when Jesus was 12, the Mexican Revolution was raging.  It wasn’t a simple war, but it sure was a bloody one.  Bands of revolutionaries roamed the countryside waging war on whoever stood in their way.  Whole towns and even states were decimated.  And their method of drafting soldiers was brutal: Soldiers would come up to a house, put a gun to the head of any males in the household, and ask a question that had only one answer.

Conchita Rodriguez, circa 1903

Conchita Rodriguez, circa 1903

“Do you want to join Pancho Villa’s army?

In fact, this is exactly what happened to Conchita’s two sons.

Some mothers cried their hearts out.  Some went crazy.  But Conchita was different, as many of the women in my family are.  She was as tough as nails.  She marched up to Pancho Villa’s headquarters and demanded to see the boss.  She ranted and raved.  It probably helped that she was a pretty woman, too.  She soon found herself in the company of Senor Villa himself.

“And what do you want?” he asked.

“I want my sons back!” she screamed.

“We need them for the revolution,” he said calmly.

“They’re my sons!  They’re not your sons!”

“Not anymore.”

“You can’t have them!”

“I’m afraid you don’t have a say in the matter.”

The Rodriguez family, circa 1903

The Rodriguez family, circa 1903

Somehow, though, Conchita made headway with Villa.  Perhaps it was her tone.  Perhaps it was her will.  Perhaps it was her looks.

So at a certain point, Villa gave her a Sophie’s Choice.

“You can have one back,” he said.  “Which one do you want?”

But Conchita would not make that choice.  She insisted that both her sons be returned and that was that.  Perhaps there was money involved, or perhaps feminine wiles.  We don’t know.  The only witness, my grandfather Jesus, died in 1970.  The best information comes from my mother, who heard the story growing up, and all she says is that Conchita was so strong willed that she convinced Pancho Villa to release both of her sons.

Conchita died at age 54 following complications of a viral infection.  She developed acute encephalomyelitis (a disease of the brain and spinal cord), chronic bronchitis, and an enlarged heart.  They lived in the barrio in poverty.  Antibiotics were just starting to be used.  But she waited to go to the hospital, and when she finally did, her strong will was not up to the task.  She succumbed on August 13, 1937.  A lioness died that day.

Conchita in her later years

Conchita in her later years

Strong will runs in my family.  My mother used her Herculean will in getting her education.  I used my strong will to become a featured performer at the world-famous Magic Castle within seven years of picking up my first magic trick.  And nobody is going to force us to make a Sophie’s Choice if we don’t want to.  We won’t stand for it.

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Adventure on Road X (part 10)

(Continued from a previous post)

In my previous genealogical posts, I have attempted to boil down my ancestors’ lives into a single sentence.

Here is Roy Groves, born 1905, the racist who married a woman who quickly became schizophrenic.

Roy and Dorothy Groves 1

Here is Charles Groves, born 1869, who had a dream of having a Kansas farm tended by his sons, but his sons were bored stiff by farming life, and they all deserted him.

John H Groves royal society of the union 2a closeupHere is John H. Groves, who was wounded for the Union side in the Civil War, and then when hostilities ended, limped the 300 miles from Unionville, Missouri to Reading, Kansas to set up a new home.

John H Groves royal society of the union 2a closeup

At a certain point, though, every genealogical line peters out.

On my recent trip to Reading, Kansas (pop. 150), P. was showing me around the sights.  The Taylors are related to the Groves in the way explained below.

Family tree of Taylors and Groves b

P. and I were driving around in his grubby white Neon at 40 mph on Highway 99 when he pointed to the left.

“That’s the site of the original homestead.”

It took me a half-minute to hear him.

“What did you just say?” I asked.

He turned the car around.

“That’s the site of the original homestead where John H. Groves built a house in 1878.”

“I thought we had already seen the house.”

“No.  The original house was there.”

With that, he pointed to the right at a small collection of trees and rocks.

“Is there anything left?”

“I don’t think so.  I’ve never visited it.  My uncle just pointed it out once.”

“Okay.”

“Do you want me to stop?”

“No, that’s okay.”

I would have liked to stop, and I should have.  To take a photograph would have been nice.  But, of course, we had a limited amount of time together.  What has remained with me is this:

This is where the physical remnants peter out.

I run into dry riverbeds, too.

This morning, I was researching John H. Groves’ wife Caroline Hayward, but I cannot get past her father, Joseph Hayward.  He was born in England in 1825, came to Canada, fathered Caroline there, and then died in Missouri.  But what comes before him is, at the moment, a mystery.

There are even more recent mysteries, too.  My grandmother Dorothy Fish’s grandmother came from Prussia.  She was named Karolina Klegen and died in 1915, but I know virtually nothing about her except that she spoke German.  What comes before her is, at the moment, a mystery.

One of my relatives has fancied herself a genealogist, and has traced our common roots back to Henry VIII.  When I sit in her living room and ask her for documentation, she waves her hand.

“It’s upstairs,” she says.  “I’d have to dig it out.”

It’s been a couple years now and she hasn’t dug it out yet.  As far as I’m concerned, that royal lineage stands on pretty shaky legs, especially given her predilection for wishful thinking.  After all, she’s an ardent Ted Cruz supporter.

Excavating the past is extremely daunting.  We attempt to piece together lives based on scant evidence.  We know he fought as a private in the Civil War in the Missouri Volunteers.  We know he settled into a house on Duck Creek where only this grove of trees now stands.  We know he died in 1935.  How much does that really tell us about John H. Groves?  I mean, really?

If one of your ancestors 100 years from now knew only that much about you, how much would they miss?  Take me, for example.  They might look at the facts and conclude that David Groves was an entertainer (from my census information) who lived in suburbia.  So?  That wouldn’t begin to encompass the other extraordinary aspects of my life.  I marched against nuclear weapons.  I exercised constantly.  I was at the same time an extravert and an introvert.  I once dated a woman who had spent the previous ten years dating women.  Turned out she was sexually damaged from childhood sexual abuse, and once remarked, “I haven’t been in my body during sex for the past nine months.”  After another year, that relationship ended up in court with her requesting a restraining order against me and the judge throwing it out for having no basis in fact.  My ancestors would never know about those parts of me just from studying census records.

Combination face 1a smaller

Take it a step further.  How much can we really know about those whom we think we know well?

My own father fought in the bloodiest battle of the Korean War, Chosin Reservoir, in 1950.  And yet I never heard a word about it from him.

Donald Groves in the kitchen 1b smaller

My grandmother suffered from schizophrenia, and yet I don’t know about its onset, its symptoms, the delusions she entertained.

In the 1940s and ’50s, there was a jazz pianist named Billy Tipton who attained some regional success.  He was married five times and lived to age 74.  Turned out he was a woman in disguise.

In my twenties, I was engaged to a woman named Suzy.  It broke up before we tied the knot, and as the relationship was disintegrating, she would often say, “You don’t know me.  Nobody knows the real me.”

If there’s someone sleeping next to you every night, think about it: How well do you really know him or her?  And what does it mean to really know someone?

Adventure on Road X (part 6)

[Continued from a previous post]

I must confess that I long to be descended from someone special.  I search records for evidence that proves I’m special.  Perhaps an ancestor was a Union hero in the Civil War.  Perhaps I was related to Shakespeare or Mozart.  Perhaps I was descended from royalty.  Or, at the very least, perhaps I was descended from the best barefoot sprinter in his village in 12th-century Provence.

It was always the subtext of all my researches.  How am I special?

Neurology face 1a

I know, for example, that I have an excellent facility with language.  I type 105 wpm.  When someone says a foreign word, I instantly repeat it correctly.  The language center in my brain must be highly developed.  (Good thing, too, because my math/science center is pretty atrophied.)

Thus, while embarked on my genealogy search, I wanted to find someone else in my line who was, say, a newspaper reporter on the Kansas City Star who mentored a young Ernest Hemingway in 1922, say, or maybe just someone who spoke ten languages fluently.

The long-lost relative I met in the minuscule town of Reading, Kansas was a mechanic.  He talked with a country twang.  He couldn’t learn computers, so what was his logical next step?  He decided to close down his business.

IMG_3084 closeup 1b

My long-lost relative Preston

Presented with this sad personage, I told my girlfriend over the phone that I didn’t see much of him in me.

“After all, we share only 1/16th of our DNA,” I said.

“You’ve told me that twice already.”

“Well, it’s true, if you calculate it.”

“Okay.”

Charles S. Groves

Charles S. Groves

The next day, I woke up in Hutchinson, two hours’ drive away.  I decided to research a different epoch in my family’s history, from 1915 to 1955, and Hutchinson is where it happened.  Once again, I was hoping to find someone special.

Hutchinson is a town of 42,000, much more than the 150 who now live in Reading.  By afternoon, I was searching through the historical archives for my great-grandfather Charles S. Groves.  By 1905, he must have rejoiced, because his wife Caroline had just given birth to his third son.  Being a farmer, he knew that three sons could form the basis of a farming success in little Twin Grove, Kansas, where he lived.  It’s still a minuscule town, with a current population of only 601.

By 1910, Charles pulled the two eldest out of school and put them to work in the fields.  But after a year or two, the sons rebelled.  They hated farm work.  They wanted to continue in school with their friends.  Good for them.  They wanted to graduate.  Charles resorted to corporal punishment, but even so, the kids couldn’t find any enthusiasm for the job, and as a result, productivity slowed to a standstill.  Ten-hour days are more than a 7-, 9- and 16-year-old can handle.

Charles couldn’t run the farm by himself, so finally, he gave up.  He moved to Hutchinson to work as a chemist in the Solvay Factory.  By all signs, it was a sad fall from grace for him.  It was his dream to own his own farm, as his father had back in Reading.  Charles’ father had two sons, Orlando and Frank, to help him run the farm, and they loved it.  They thrived on mechanical challenges.  They weren’t enticed by the glamour of the big city.  Why couldn’t his own sons be like that?  Charles was quite angry.

In researching Charles’ Hutchinson life, I picked up other signs of conflict in the family.  The boys went back to school, and by 1917, the oldest had graduated at age 20 from Hutchinson High School.  At the time, they were living at the house pictured below.

628 5th Ave Hutchinson 2b smaller

I took this photo on my recent trip to Hutchinson, then Photoshopped it to look like an old photo.

After the Reno County Historical Society archives closed at 5 pm, I drove over to the house and took some pictures.  Amazingly, much of old Hutchinson is still intact, and very few houses have been torn down and replaced by apartment buildings and newer homes.

The two younger sons, John and Roy, dropped out of school, I suspect, because I can find no trace of them in the HHS yearbooks.  Now here’s a strange fact.  By 1923, John and Roy had moved across the street.  I mean, who moves out of their parents’ house and to a house across the street?  Only someone who truly wants to get out from under someone’s unpleasant thumb.  Below is a photograph of that house.

629 5th Ave Hutchinson 3b bw smaller

I took this photo on my recent trip to Hutchinson, then Photoshopped it to look like an old photo.

From here on, we encounter what I call a lost generation.  None of these brothers distinguished themselves as special in any way.  Each failure, however, is interesting in its own way.

My Uncle John, the middle son, became a professional gambler.  In the 1960s, he walked up to me at a family reunion and gave me a deck of marked cards.

John Wesley Groves circa 1934

“I’m going to tell you the secret to winning at cards,” he whispered.  “Cheating.”

“What are you telling my boy?” my mother said, quickly coming to my rescue.

“Don’t tell her,” John said.

“What did he say to you?” my mother said.

“I can’t tell you,” I said.

Later, John was kicked out of Las Vegas for cheating.  In those days, kicked out of described a bloodier process than they describe today.  His wife and daughter ended up hating him.

My Uncle Earl’s son Earl, Jr., grew quite obese and made his living playing music in smoky lounges around Los Angeles.

Earl Groves, Jr.

Earl Groves, Jr.

I remember going over to his house with my parents on July 20, 1969, the day of the moon landing.  He was living with a woman he had met in one of those lounges, and truthfully, all they did all the time was drink and yell at each other in an ugly manner, even with company present.  It was quite unpleasant.  I wanted to watch this historic moment, the moment that Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, but these boobs were interrupting it with their own dysfunctional melodrama.  Earl died soon afterwards.

And Earl Jr.’s own son was a complete loser.  When he grew up, he became a Hell’s Angel and we never heard from him again.

My own grandfather, Roy, moved to California before the Dust Bowl hit.  He got a job in a paper mill and married a pretty young thing.  They had a child in 1929.

Roy and Dorothy Groves 1

But soon, it became clear that his wife was mentally ill.  She would pester her 8-year-old son with obsessive thoughts and conspiracy theories, following him for hours around the house until he was nearly insane himself.  When the marriage broke up, amazingly, she received custody.  One rainy night, she was gone, as she often was, spending the night with a man.  Donald was left on his own.  The thunder became more intense.  Donald became frightened, not knowing if it was the end of the world.  There was no mother there to calm him.

“There there,” a good mother would have said, “it’s just thunder.”

Donald Groves as a child

Donald Groves as a child

Finally, Donald couldn’t take it anymore.  He ran out of the house, down the street, through the pouring rain, and to his father’s house, but his father wasn’t there.  As always, he was working the graveyard shift at the paper mill.  When Roy returned at dawn, he found his son huddling in a fetal position inside the screened-in porch, wet and shivering.  That was the moment that Dorothy lost legal custody of her son.

But Roy himself was no bargain, either.  Not only was he a racist, which is a philosophy that had no future, even back then, but he went public with it.  He doubled down, marrying another racist from Arkansas.  The name for that kind of person is, put politely, a jerk.

So my view of this generation was shaping up quite nicely, that is to say, quite badly.  Losers all, nothing special.

One of my relatives has traced our line back to Henry VIII of England, who distinguished himself by killing two of his wives.  To be frank, Charles and his sons weren’t even as distinguished as that.

It wasn’t until my father came along that the family gained some decency again.  Dad married a Mexican-American woman from East L.A. because he loved her.  He gave up his dream of being a photographer to provide for his kids with a boring job as an architectural coordinator.  He coached on his son’s Little League team.  He never drank.  He never hit us.  He never owned a gun.  He was determined to be a good father, because so many people in the previous generation had been shits.

My father Donald Groves in his twenties

My father Donald Groves in his twenties

But then again, this is genealogy, not science.  I don’t know what earned rebellion turned John into a card cheat.  I don’t know what heartache of dispossession turned Roy into a racist.  I don’t know what dysfunction may have turned Earl, Jr., into an excessive mess.  I don’t know Preston’s extraordinary sides, given that I’ve spent only four hours with him.

The challenge, really, is to see every single person in his best light, as I have done with my father.  The challenge, as with your own children, is to find and see all that is special within them.  The challenge, in the end, is to love them.

Given that, it is clear that my genealogy search is not over.  I must find a reason to love them.

Adventure on Road X (part 3)

[Continued from a previous post]

When you first meet someone you haven’t seen in 163 years, you’re understandably nervous.  Preston Taylor, Jr., and I shared a common great-great-grandfather, John H. Groves.  I unearthed a photograph of John in the local historical museum.

Image

John was posing with the local chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic, or GAR, which consisted of Civil War veterans who fought for the Union, or as they put it, “veterans of the late unpleasantness.”  I was astonished to learn that they were quite a force for good, supporting voting rights for black veterans, lobbying Congress to establish veterans’ pensions, and supporting liberal political candidates.

I was terribly excited when I discovered this photograph in a local history book, Thru the Years.  I scanned and examined it, but was disappointed with the results.

ImageTry as I might, I can’t make out much from the photograph above.  Okay, here’s what I can see.  He’s white.  He has a beard nearly to his chest.  He’s trim.  Looking at his face and using other information to help pinpoint it, John could be anywhere from 42 to 55 years old, which would put the date of this photo at 1878 to ’91.  I’ve asked the museum director to research and see if she can locate the original, so an improved photograph may be forthcoming.

(This Grand Army of the Republic is not to be confused with the Star Wars Grand Army of the Republic, which is a clone army created by Jango Fett.)

John and Caroline Groves had six children.

My line started with their son Charles, who moved away from Reading, and then continued with his three sons, who moved out of state, luckily, just before the Dust Bowl.  I ended up in Southern California.

Family tree of Taylors and Groves b

Preston’s line started with Rosa Groves, who married Perry Taylor and stayed in Reading, as did their progeny.  As I drove to our rendezvous at the Emporia Historical Museum, I pondered how fate can veer some people left, other people right, and keep still others right where they are.  Driving through the wheat fields, and reading extensively on how the big money had been fleeing Kansas for years, I mused that my line had been the lucky one.

There he was, Preston Taylor, leaning against a tree in jeans overalls and a hat.  Finally, after all these years.  I walked up and shook hands, knowing that hugging might seem strange after 163 years.  We talked, but while we did, my mind was like a river flowing beneath it all.  I looked at his face while we talked, examining it for traces of myself, and found little there.  I looked at his bare arms, and they looked familiar.  I looked at his height and he bested me by about three inches.

Image

Image

Later, I compared the faces in a more Photoshoppy manner.

IMG_3084 closeup face meld 1b

In this mind-meld photograph, I see little similarities in our facial features, but nothing major.  Most of what I recognize in his face is my intensity.  His intensity is saying, I can work 10 hours a day and earn a good wage and feel good about myself, while mine says, I’m from the big city and I use the most expensive razor blade in the store, so don’t hate me because I’m handsome.

At the outset, Preston and I stood behind my car, my genealogy papers spread across the top of the trunk, and talked about specific ancestors.

“I’m very interested in genealogy, but I haven’t put much effort into it yet,” Preston said.  “When I was a kid, I was much more comfortable being around adults than I was around children.  I idolized my uncle, John Taylor, and he used to talk an awful lot about the different people in our line.  I remembered a lot of what he said, even though he died 44 years ago.”

In fact, I learned from Preston, Rosa Groves was a maid in the Taylor household when young Perry Taylor first fell in love with her.  Preston offered to show me the house where this all happened, so we drove a few blocks away and saw a fabulous yellow house from a bygone era.

Image

Kansas is the kind of place where they’ve saved their architectural treasures, and this is a case in point.  The reason, unfortunately, is financial.  First, there has been the money and manpower drain.  And secondly, for decades people have been living in the same old houses rather than knocking them down or renovating them, which is the way it’s done in Southern California.  Thus, what we’ve been left with is a kind of historical preservation by default.

Even the street itself is historically preserved, being made from old brick rather than asphalt, as you can see below.

Image

“Would you like to go to the graveyard?” Preston asked.

It seemed like as good a place as any to start, with death.

“Jump in,” he said.

So I grabbed my camera, my research papers, and a little bit of courage, and stepped into Preston’s aging white Neon.  It was a wretched little car with a bunch of junk on the dashboard: a box of nails, a couple wrenches, and other mechanic’s detritus.  The seatbelt didn’t work, either.  But as the car putted off down Emporia’s quaint old streets, and then out of Emporia and onto wide-open country roads, I realized that I wasn’t just driving to some podunk town, I was driving into the distant past.

[To be continued]

Closing the Circle, Opening the Wound

My Aunt Irma is dead and gone now, and it’s too bad that my most prominent memory of her is unflattering.  Whenever I think of her, it’s that ugly moment years ago when I was ten.  She was drunk and insisted on dancing close and intimately with my Dad.  My mother and us kids were there watching it all.

But there’s much more to the story.  When I was five, our family moved into a new house in Whittier, California.

“You’ll never guess who’s living four blocks from us,” my mother said to my father one evening.

“Who?”

“Irma.”

“Oh God.”

Since they were family, my mother brought us over to their house one day.  The families got to know each other.  After all, Irma had a boy my age and a girl my sister’s age, and we were attending the same elementary school with each other.  But deep down, the two mothers had a basic antipathy for each other.

Hispanic woman generic 1aMaybe it was because they were so different.  My mother was the kind of Mexican-American who saw her heritage as a ball and chain that she needed to cut off.  She had been raised poor in East L.A., and she didn’t like the violence, misogyny, and machismo of the Mexican culture.

Once she came of age, my mother married the whitest man she could find.  When he brought her home for the first time to meet his parents, his father ranted and raved and insisted that the marriage be annulled.  His cowardly son meekly complied.  Undeterred, she went out and found another whitest man she could find.  That second one was my father.

Irma, on the other hand, gladly carried that ball and chain.  She planted lots of fruit trees in her backyard, which was very East L.A.  She went to mass every Sunday and didn’t serve meat on Friday, whereas my mother had become a Lutheran and took us to church with people who were the whitest of the white.  Irma’s mother, who never learned English even after 50 years in the United States, lived with her, which was a Mexican tradition.  There were little white lace doilies all around the house with framed photos of Mexican relatives.

Maybe it wasn’t that Irma and my mother were so different, but that they were too much the same.  They were both terribly strong willed.  There was something in Irma’s voice that was always harsh, never smooth or refined.  She was always ready to make a bathroom joke.  My mother could be harsh, too.  Any decision she made was law, and anyone who questioned her authority was attacked mercilessly.  In her later years, she adopted a motto she had heard in the movie, Dolores Claiborne, and relished saying wielding it.

“Sometimes, the only thing you have left is to be a bitch.”

That was inevitably followed by a sly, self-satisfied smile.

My sister used to play with Joaquin's sister

My sister used to play with Joaquin’s sister

Our families tried to make the relationship work.  I sometimes went over to their house and played with Irma’s son Joaquin.  I played army with him, hiding behind brick fences and shooting at the other kids with my finger.  I looked with pity at Joaquin’s sunken chest, and envied his great talent in art, and the fabulous pictures that he drew.  Irma cherished her son, held him up high on a pedestal.

Then one evening, our family was invited to Irma’s house for dinner.  I don’t remember much about the evening except the end of it.  Irma was starting to get a little drunk, and as she turned the dance music up louder on the stereo, my mother objected.

“I’m sorry, Irma, but we’re going to have to leave,” my mother said.  “We have to get up early tomorrow morning.”

“No, stay!” Irma said.  “It’s Friday!  The party’s just getting started!”

And with that, Irma grabbed my father’s hand and pulled him into the living room.  My father tried to resist, but Irma was so insistent that it would have been impolite to pull away, so he humored her.  Irma moved in close and tight, lambada-like, dancing in a way that shocked my mother.  My sister and I watched in astonishment, as well.  The song went on for the longest time, and then when it finally ended, my father pulled away.

“We have to go,” he said, and we were gone.

Our family talked about that evening for years afterwards.  Irma drank too much.  Irma was too East L.A.  Irma was vulgar.  In our family, Irma was a symbol of everything my mother had left behind.

IMG_0044 croppedYears later, as college students, something unexpected happened.  Joaquin and I became best friends.  Unlike his mother, he turned out to be quite cultured and charming.  I shared my writing with him, and he showed me his artwork.  The first time I got drunk was with Joaquin in a little bar on Second Street in Belmont Shore, and we talked about T.S. Eliot and artists’ colonies, slamming our fists drunkenly on the little black table like we imagined they had in Paris in the 1920s.  We felt that we were rising above our family feud, embracing forgiveness and graciousness.

Strangely, though, history was about to torpedo our lofty goals.  Two years later, I developed a serious crush on a young college classmate named Angelina, talked incessantly about her.  I was angling how to turn a friendship into a romance.  One night, I had a party.  Joaquin and Angelina ended up making out in the backyard, and then went on to spend the next four years together. They became the consummate cozy couple.  They traveled to Europe together and even caught a parasite together in Egypt.

I was monumentally angry and hurt.  I didn’t talk to either of them during all that time.  I was carrying around a scar the size of East L.A., which is nearly eight square miles.  Everything I went through was seen through the lens of hurt and betrayal. Even the novel I was writing was, I now realize, all about betrayal, and we all know that novels are a snapshot of one’s soul.

Hacienda Heights walk d

Soon, however, I heard that their relationship had hit the skids.  She had become disillusioned with him.  She had started dating around.  One evening out of the blue, Angelina showed up at my front door unannounced.

“Hi,” she said, leaning against the doorframe.

“Hello,” I said, confused.

“I was just driving around and I thought I’d stop by,” she said, a seductive lilt in her voice.

I slept with her that night and the circle began to close.

In the years since, the betrayals have been forgotten.  It’s been years since I’ve seen things through the lens of revenge.  As they say, it takes too much energy.  Not only that, but if you get close enough to anyone, even the most faithful person in the world, they’re bound to betray you in some way or other.  I recently published a novel, the lovely What Happens to Us, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DSSN5SU, and it was a relief to realize that it isn’t in any way, shape, or form about betrayal.

LACMA Picasso b smallerIt still amazes me how betrayal can move down through generations, reoccurring in different times and situations.  I wonder sometimes if betrayal is genetic.  Joaquin is still one of the most charming people I’ve ever met.  He lives halfway across the world now, but every so often, we have long conversations.  They are not vulgar.  They are not fueled by liquor.  They aren’t filled with bathroom humor.  Irma is dead and gone now and time has healed many wounds.  Sometimes, we feel like the best of friends again, wounds all healed, everything forgotten.