Transitions are never easy. Ever. The last time things changed should make that pretty clear to you, Janelle. I’m not good at adjusting.
Adjusting to my babies growing up into their own people—that was hard. Apollo was so strong and bright and competent—I knew he’d be an excellent person, an excellent contribution to society, maybe an excellent husband or partner or father someday.
But adjusting to you hating me? That didn’t come easy.
I spent a lot of time doing things on my own.
Whenever you were in the same room, really, I buried myself in my guitar. I excused it to myself: (1) I had goals, this was in the pursuit of something good and (2) you didn’t want me around anyway, so what did it matter?
But Creator, I knew I was just running away. From you, and from Leolin a bit now too. He had grown into a teen with your same tendencies towards feeling superior—there’s nothing wrong with wanting a better life, of course, but it seemed like his natural cheerfulness was overshadowed now by his want to take you as his high-class mentor.
Every opinion Janelle expressed, Leolin joyfully, but staunchly, abided by.
Even the ones about me, though the one’s about my character didn’t seem to stick quite as well as those about my guitar-playing, thank the Creator.
I spent a lot of time with Leo as well.
He really was my rock while I was figuring out how to deal with all that was now so crazy in our home life. He was a constant voice of reason and reassurance.
Boy, was he mad when I told him what she said to me that day. It was me that had to stop him from going out and confronting her—kids shouldn’t talk to their parents that way, no matter how they’re feeling, he told me.
But I needed him more in the moment. I needed him to hold me more than I needed him to stand up for me. And he understood that, like he always did, though I think he worried about it from a parenting standpoint.
I could admit it now—I loved that man. I swear I did. It took me so fucking long to say it, I know it did. It took me so long just to admit it to myself. But he had been living with me for long enough now that I couldn’t justify pretending—I loved him. He was as close to a soulmate as I could ever hope to have.
Other residents of the house, however, were not quite so welcome.
Creator, if I knew how to exorcise a ghost, she’d be gone. All of my suspicions had been proved correct with that apparition. Someone had poisoned by daughter against me, and I was convinced it was Alexia, the dead bitch.
I guess Leo was right. Leo was always right, damn it.
And I was glad that she had someone she could talk to. I wish the person weren’t dead, but at least it was something. She had life experience, to be sure.
And there was always Leolin. Janelle hadn’t distanced herself from him, joy of joys.
Even despite what was happening with you, Janelle, something about knowing that I wouldn’t be in charge pretty soon was bringing me a sense of inner peace. You were so close to being a young adult. And as much as I knew (from my own damn experience) that age had nothing to do with maturity, or how ready one was to take of oneself, I figured that at least I could take a step back. You would have to figure it out for yourself, and I would have to let you.
And in the meantime, I would get to let go of some of that pressure on myself.
Things weren’t great, Janelle. Far from it. You had still broken my heart—shattered it, really—and didn’t seem to care whether or not I picked up the pieces. But Leo was there to help me out, and that was good, and I was okay.
That’s really the best that anyone can ever hope for, I think—that, through all the bad, we have someone by our side who makes it—or tries to make it—okay.
You know, I do wish you had talked to me. I do wish that you will talk to me. Someday, maybe you’ll decide that you were wrong. Or maybe I’ll decide that I was wrong, though I doubt that will be the case. Either way, I don’t want us to stay this way—where we dance around each other, making no eye contact and exchanging no kind words.
I’m not happy, Janelle. But I am content. And I really don’t think that you are. You seem lost, angry, bitter. I hope I didn’t make you that way. If I did, I apologize. All I want for you now is for you to find your contentedness. Seek it fiercely, determinedly, with the same boldness you’ve approached everything in your life, even me. Find your happy. And teach your children, if you choose to have them, to find theirs.