This is uncomfortable.

A week ago, I composed the most uncomfortable email I’ve ever had the displeasure of sending. This has been the year of awkward family confrontations. My grandparents were the recipients; in this email, I confessed–with attempted tact–that I had disowned their son. I was squirming with discomfort after I hit send, then I kept squirming for seven days because that’s how long it took for them to respond.

During that time, I asked myself the questions I thought they’d ask so that I could best prepare my answers. I believed I could role-play my grandparents in my head, which is impossible because they’re so old that Opa told me how he no longer sees Napoleon as a figure from a long time ago. Yet, I still obsessed over my grandparents’ anticipated response.

I considered pointing out that my siblings and I all moved out long before we were legal adults. I’d perhaps point out that we also all lived far away from our parents at one or more times in our lives, and it wasn’t to pursue a post-secondary education nor a career. I could mention how kids don’t put a thousand-kilometre buffer between their loving parents willy-nilly.

Also, I was to point out how it would make the most sense that, up until now, I was the one who appeared to have the healthiest relationship with Dad, especially considering how I’m also the child who’s lived outside his area code for the longest. After all, he’d been mostly wholesome during our epistolary relationship.

What disappoints me the most is how I didn’t realize the problem with him sooner.

For one week, I dealt with this all-consuming worry while things were slow at work, not granting my brain any distractions. I drank bottomless green tea and held back tears. A few days ago, I asked one of my superiors if I could help elsewhere, knowing that I’d be tucked away in the basement, out of public view. The list of people who have not seen me cry at work is… short. Who wants to be known as the person who cries at work?

A shivering Lemongrab holding his knees turns around. When he is facing forward, his rind splits off his face, exposing his bugged-out eyes.

At last, my phone notified me of a new email in Outlook from Opa. My heart started pounding. I had spent the week setting myself up to expect the worst. Was all that mental preparation going to pay off?

Opa kept his response to this matter short, “I have nothing to say much except that worn-out cliché that ‘nobody is perfect’ and that counts for you and me as well as for everybody else.” He then went on to tell me about how, as a child, he once ate resin to impress somebody. Randomness is hereditary.

I’m not out of the woods yet. Dad’s known to bad-mouth my siblings for not visiting or calling him. But, he doesn’t know me, so he’ll have to invent reasons or get petty.

I asked him years ago to not say anything to his parents about my tattoos, mostly out of convenience: the tattoos are not difficult to cover up, although I’m doubtful everybody in the family kept a lid on it for sixteen years. This can’t be new information to the grandparents. Anyway, I’d tell them not to worry and that I have only ten tattoos, which is true. One of them is a 7″ dining room chair on my rib cage, so nothing weird, at least.

The awkwardness must stop. This branch is about to snap off the family tree.

Rather than ending this post on a positive note, I’ll end it on an educational note.

  1. Did you know that you can suspend air-activated hand warmers by putting them in a food storage bag, purging out the air, and then freezing them? This information isn’t written on any of the packages I’ve seen, and the manufacturers don’t advertise the fact. Why would they if they’re trying to turn a profit? The hand warmers still have a 7ish-hour lifespan, but if you only needed them for an hour, you could make the same packet last a week.
  2. Did you know that competitive neti-potting is a thing? A friend showed me this video of the Nose Cleaning World Championship. Wow. Gross. It was more of a marketing campaign, which doesn’t change my opinion much. Gross. How was that campaign successful? I lost all interest in trying a neti-pot, and I’m typically open to new, strange experiences.
  3. Blogging isn’t dead but reinvented as Reddit posts. I’m a fan of r/AmITheAsshole and r/IDontWorkHereLady. I enjoy contemplating the actions of others when it doesn’t involve me.

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