Saturday, July 23, 2011

Love of a City and a Moment of Awkward - or vice versa

EDIT: I wrote all this on July 8th... and then figured I'd wait until I had pictures put in to share it... but I'd been so busy... so I'm putting it up now, and I'll have to share pictures another time.

Oh hi there blog. How you doing there? What? What's that? I only posted three times in June? Whatevs. I post when I want.  You don't own me. My post count is, including this one, at 46 now, which is more in one year than my average, so shut up.

So I'm back from Michigan. Did I mention I was going to Michigan? Yep. I guesstimated originally that it had been about fourteen years since the last visit TO Michigan, but I was incorrect. I mean, I was right, but my math was off, or my mind was off, or something. I knew that it was the summer after eighth grade. And without thinking I thought "fourteen" and so decided that had been how long it was... but fourteen is how old I was, so it was eleven years ago. Meh, still. Over a decade. OVER A DECADE since we'd seen some of these people. A handful of them visited us around the time I was sixteen I think, (so 9 years ago) but other than that.... that's a long time to not visit. My dad said it was because he remembered the last visit being incredibly expensive. He has now realized that he was wrong. Only about $130 to drive there from here, and that's including the two hours we got lost. Not so bad. He has now decided we'll be visiting more often.

I was... anxious, thinking of this trip. Currently, I'm unemployed, still living at home, never went to college... a bum. And I likes to avoid awkward questions. And people. And sunlight. Eep.

Luckily, there were only three such questions, and they were dropped fairly quickly once answered.

I also learned something new. And I will share it with you. The moment of awkward. It wasn't awkward for anyone other than myself, but that's plenty when considering I'm me.

My mom, when referring to my dad's side of the family, has always said they hate her. They judge her. They look at her funny. It's why she never goes with us during trips to see them, why I wasn't surprised she had a ready excuse this time around. She's always twisting things around to make herself the victim though. It's what she does. Cut to three years back, when she gave me this sob story about how, at one year old, I kept reaching for my dad instead of her, and so she assumed I always hated her, and from then on she'd always kept me at arm's length emotionally. I think she expected me to feel sorry for her, to feel bad for reaching for my father when I was ONE. Are you kidding me? You've been holding that gem against me??? You waited over twenty years to use it? You've got to be joking.

But, back to the story, I assumed all that talk about the family was all just her trying to get me to feel sorry for her. I've now learned that her assumptions and accusations about the family might not be far-fetched... and understandably so.

It appears that, when I was around 1, (This must have been an important time in my life. I alienated my mother AND all this...? Geeze.) my mother took me to the Philippines to visit her family. She then called my father in crisis.

I had been kidnapped.

And the people who took me were holding me for ransom. $10,000. It would cost $10,000 to get me back. My dad was a wreck. He contacted his entire family to gather the money. One of my uncles urged him to get NIS involved, (it's called NCIS now - naval criminal investigative service - my dad was in the navy back then) and so he did. What did they find? My mom. And me. Just chillin'. My mom made up the kidnapping. She wanted money for her family, so she thought she could fake a kidnapping to get her "rich american in-laws" to pony up the dough. Because she was in the Philippines at the time, the US could not do anything legally against her, and because she'd done it against people in the US, the Philippines felt it was also out of their jurisdiction to do anything either. Though I don't know... if you fake a kidnapping, do you normally get in trouble? *shrug*

Just when I thought.... just when I thought I couldn't be surprised by her anymore... what? WHAT? I assure you, I kid you not. My genius mother decided she was going to get $10k from my dad and his family, and her plan was to pretend I was kidnapped. Bra. Vo.

Now, mind you, I've heard a small part of this story before. Only just months ago, my mother brought it up in passing. She'd told me that when I was a baby, she pretended I was kidnapped and called my dad to ask for ransom money to get me back. That was all she'd said, and while I was curious, (How much, mom? Did he find out? WHAT HAPPENED?!) I knew - by the way she'd said it - that if I asked questions or pursued an interest in the story in any way, she would find a way to try and twist it so that she was the victim. And she would again, expect me to feel sorry for her. So I made a non-committal sound and dropped it. I told a couple of my friends just a couple weeks ago, and felt only slightly bad that I didn't have any further details on the subject. (It was either walk away with what I was given, or stay and bang my head against the table while my mom continued her sob story.) Welp, I have more info now, mingo. There you go.

The awkward part of this? I found out about it via my uncle's book of family history. The story is listed there, under my dad. Everyone else has stuff like, where they were born, their children, their spouse, their jobs... but added to my dad's section, is that story. Wtf? Other than that, the only other tacky info in the entire book is under one of my aunt's, about an ex husband, but it's not a specific story, just some general info that's not very polite to be keeping in a family history book. (especially since it's an EX HUSBAND) I mean... really? REALLY? 

When someone asks about you, do you say "Hi! I'm so and so from this place, I work here, I have these kids, and when my oldest was 1, my wife pretended she was kidnapped so she could basically steal $10,000 from my family to give to her family. What about you?"

Or say, you're writing a short bio of yourself, is that something you include? It bothered me that my uncle felt it was necessary to include that story in the book. But what was even worse? How everything fit together once I knew the story.  My mom thinking the family judges her, (HOW COULD THEY NOT????) how sympathetic some of our cousins were to our family "troubles", (that was when I was a child, I don't remember specifics, just the feelings of confusion) how my mom and dad ALWAYS used to argue about asking his family for money - my mom would complain that he was always too chicken to ask, he'd always say to me later that he was ashamed... (um.. HELLO... he basically begged his family for $10k to get me back from kidnappers... oh wait, never mind, I wasn't kidnapped. How would YOU feel about asking for money again? I know he was as blindsided by that lie as his family, but he's still married to the woman...) whenever our cousins would say things like "well, you know how our aunts like to gossip..." I always got the feeling that the "gossip" was directed toward us personally, and would always just agree with them, because I'd rather pretend I knew wtf was going on, than asking them wtf was going on... it felt like something I needed to find out from parents, ya know?

Geeze, I can only imagine the crap that went down when that story was actually taking place. You picked a winner there, dad. And to know that after all these years, he's still married to her? Damn. That's... fun.

But enough of that...

All in all, I had a good time. For the most part. I don't like large crowds, so the party (grandma's 80th) and the day after were a bit uncomfortable, but eh. I survived. And only required a minimal amount of hiding.

It seems the lottery is a big thing there, wherever we went that had a tv was usually tuned in to "keno" or "daily pick three" etc. Buying gas is a gamble too, they raise the prices on the weekends and holidays - but sometimes it would go up at random during the week too. When we arrived on Wednesday, gas was at 3.49. By Thursday it was 3.59, and I think the most I saw it during the weekend was 3.99. Tuesday morning it had gone down to 3.69, and in four hours, it was back up to 3.89.  Crazy.  Price jumps like that don't happen that often over here. Maybe a few cents here and there, and occasionally a big jump.

I found it... a bit sad, I guess, that the local news had a "death notices" segment every morning and every night for "mid-michigan".  Basically, the obituaries. We don't have that here... but that might be because our local news is "Chicago-land" and it's quite possible our death count is a bit higher. 

I fell in love with Bay City. Seriously. It's hard to describe why I loved it, but I did. I loved how within five minutes of my aunt's house, they were able to show us my other aunt's house, my cousin's, where they grew up until they were seven, where they moved after that, my grandma's house growing up, where my grandma and grandpa lived for three months, my great aunt's house... it just went on and on.

It seemed like a pretty large town at times. On the wiki, it says the population in 2010 was 34,932. Which is much less than where I used to live (Aurora) which is almost at 200,000.  But currently, I live in a town not far from Aurora, and that town's count is 30,355... so Bay City and my town are about the same in size. It felt larger sometimes, and smaller at other times.

 I'm prone to getting anxious whilst driving - especially when it's a drive that involves roads I don't frequent, and the tension I suffer whilst on highways? Awful. I get more anxious/tense during higher speeds. (Chicago highways have 55mph speed limits. I know people tend to go at least five over, but REALLY?! THAT'S FAST YO!) I didn't get that at all in Michigan. Even during the two hour drive by myself down to Ann Arbor. Where the speed limit is 70. I was going anywhere from 75 to 90. And I was fine.

I fell in love with the feel of it I think. It felt like home. Which was odd, because I never lived there. And also odd, because I don't really know if I've ever felt "home" where I have lived. (Unless you count an online world, which I won't, for simplicity's sake.)

My cousin - or, I've been informed - my third cousin, has a house there, and is looking for a roommate to help with bills. She offered the second bedroom to me. And I seriously considered it for the entirety of the week. I mean, currently, I don't have many ties here. I have my friends, my family. But really, I can keep up through Facebook and the like, no? I only actually have a handful of friends irl, I'm certain we could keep in touch through text, email and FB. Same goes with family. I even brought the thought up to my dad.

He doesn't want me to. (".....please don't go. Then I'd have no one but your mother to talk to.")  His plea made me rethink. He's always seemed to not really care what me and my brother do, never puts in an opinion on decisions like that. Well, no, it's not that he doesn't really care, but rather, he lets us make our own decisions, and keeps his opinions to himself. So for him to actually say "don't" was odd. And made me realize that I would miss talking to him. My brother's never been one to talk to my dad, whereas me and him, we can talk for hours. It amazed my ex once. J was at his puter, and I was at mine, and my dad knocked on the door at around 1am to talk about his day. We talked for two hours. J couldn't believe it.

And then thinking about missing my dad...  I would be sad to leave my friends too. Sometimes it feels like we don't hang out so often already, and leaving would obviously mean no more hanging out at all. (Well, for me.) I enjoy their company, I have the most fun when we're just sitting around, bored out of our minds, but we're together, so I like it. Seriously. If I were to plan my own birthday celebration, it would be just us, hanging around. Maybe watching a movie or playing a board game I'm terrified of playing. (a few of my friends are competitive) My birthday's in December, so it's unlikely that I'd ask to play at the playground, but it's not like I haven't requested that in the past. (We totally did that for my 16th birthday party. And it was COLD) Not saying I wouldn't make friends in Michigan, but if I were to live with my third cousin, it'd be safe to say that "partying" would be a normality of life. And I'm just not that type of person. Bar hopping and going dancing and junk? Meh.

That being said, I've promised my friends here that we'll go bar hopping sometime.. or something like that. Mainly because I did in Michigan, and they like doing that too, and I don't really but I did in Michigan so why not yo? Or something like that. It makes sense to me. Won't kill me to do that on occasion. Might be tricky to do so without cash though, in Michigan everywhere was like, $1 a beer. Dunno how much that is here. *shrug*

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