I have a unique and creative family. Or at least, that is how they refer to themselves. I am not convinced that the words ‘creative’ and ‘bat-shit-crazy’ can be used synonymously. Or that sticking needles into someone’s photo can cause them tooth-ache.
We lived together on a farm. A family farm, possibly the most beautiful piece of land I’ve ever seen (and I have travelled widely.) My grandmother lived down the hill and my father’s sister, a few houses away from ours. My father would (very jokingly) ask me when leaving the house, if I was going to visit ‘Priesterslaagte’ (my grandmother’s house, she was very religious) or ‘daggafontein’ (my aunt’s house- because creative minds almost always indulge in a bit of recreational drug use.)
To me we were always more in line with ‘Dallas,’ the series. Minus the oil and the extraordinary wealth. ‘Morning drinks, afternoon drinks, evening drinks’ applied and also ‘blood is thicker than water but not thicker than oil.’
Family feuds were a regular occurrence (creative people have creative temperaments) and drinks were thrown in people’s faces. Sometimes someone would storm out in the dead of the night and do jumping jacks in the middle of the street (stark naked) in an attempt to catch a lift to get the hell out of there (that makes sense, how?) Or someone would decide to drown himself in the river because death is a far better fate than life with a family of assholes.
We didn’t have the best reputation (as you can imagine.) After a dramatic event someone in town would start spreading the news: ‘Guess what that crazy family did this time.’ But we’d laugh among ourselves and say that ‘they just don’t understand us because we’re much more creative than them.’ And, ‘we were born in the wrong country, the wrong decade- there must be a place in this world where people like us are celebrated.’ Er yes, on a funny farm (I realise now.)
It’s a peculiar thing. You can’t pick your family. And very often you despise them. But who else would understand and love you as unconditionally. In the Prince of Tides Tom Wingo says that ‘I learned that I needed to love my mother and father in all their flawed, outrageous humanity, and in families there are no crimes beyond forgiveness.’ If I had a choice, would I pick differently?
I think I’d have to want to be a completely different person to want a different family.
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