Tuesday, February 23, 2010


It had been quite a year and this was not officially summer yet. This year I had taken the family secrets across enemy lines and told anyone who would listen all the things the family kept undercover. This year in which the landscape of my life, past as well as present, had so radically changed.

And while I did not have the kind of clear images that Michelle called The Visuals, I was absolutely certain clear pictures would come into focus. And meanwhile, I did not a think that I was being unfair to talk freely about Peter being in the dread CIA while I, quite heroically, was on the other side. Or to tell all these people from other places about the family’s fake British accents, their fake war hero, their focus on fake Gothic Princeton and other correct places. And cruelty to children, and my mother’s alcoholism, and the patterns I saw emerging as my cousins died young, and worse.

Sometimes when I concentrated while alone it seemed like there was a dark haze settling in that made it very hard for me to see what I knew had to be there. And sometimes I got off the subject as other images appeared.

At the same time I was exposing the pseudo aristocrats who summered in the White Mountains I could dream of moments when I was turning 16 and had what seemed to me a sensitivity to nature worthy of Keats and Wordsworth, and found that I was popular in our summer gang and not quite so unpopular now at school, and found that girls liked me. And always remembering that, although the - view of the Franconia range of the White Mountains may have been the official family view, those mountains were also a part of my own sensitivity and evolving sensibility, my own, distinct from anything anyone in the family alive understood and felt and saw.

And while I was exposing the place, I did, almost in spite of myself now, see more that was not all negative. That maybe my adventures that took me geographical far from the place might in some way maybe even be tied to indelible admiration for the adventurer that Gaga had been before he turned conservative.

Though even when I was on the attack I did not completely rid myself other memories. Such as that time Peter and I walked up to the caretaker’s house to get some eggs and Peter did something that made me feel so betrayed it was as if my life were over. But Nana did not just accept, as the others would, that I was in the wrong, that anything said by Peter had to be believed. This was when she asked a very loaded question I did not think I would hear in the family. She asked me, me the bad, slow twin then, the question, What’s wrong?

Nana who went to plays and concerts, and could discuss with me the books I was reading in the summers, even Turgenev, which I had found in Gaga’s study and which no one outside the family seemed to have heard of.

And now in 1986 I was relating all this before people who could not possibly side with that distant past version of my brother. I was making fun of the good boy/smart boy twin, always favored above me. I was making fun of all of them. And I sometimes spoke now about sexual and other things that probably, certainly, had been done to other children in this family.

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