What is Expected

There are certain things to be expected after your father kills himself. It’s normal to cry all through the afternoon and evening of the day your mother calls you with the news. It’s socially acceptable to sit up most nights of the month following trying to articulate to your very understanding boyfriend, who has to work in the morning, how you can hear in your mom’s voice that she’d seen her husband hanging from a rope in their garage. After that first month, it’s part of the passage of time for that same understanding and patient boyfriend to be a little less understanding and patient, and in order to save the relationship and his sanity, you, like most people put in a similar situation, reach out to other friends. (He does not use the phrase “driving me crazy,” but you do, to your friends on the phone in the downstairs bathroom.) You reach out to friends from college and upon rehashing the time between the present and the last you heard from them, you realize just how long it’s been since graduation.

At this point, about two and a half months after your father stepped off the roof of his car and allowed his feet to dangle in the confines of the open sunroof, it’s normal to reassess where your life is currently and where it’s headed. Given your sudden and recent realization of how long it’s been since graduation (it hasn’t been that long, by average standards, but your father’s recent passing has altered your understanding and respect for time) and the shamble-like state of your relationship with your boyfriend and your recently acquired habit of drinking whiskey late at night to fall asleep, no one would blame you for wanting to pack up the essentials, clean out your bank account and drive until you feel like you can begin again.

Your boyfriend, at first devastated, angry and confused (as would be expected after three years of living together), would initially adopt your tradition of late-night whiskey as though he were trying to preserve your ghost. Eventually though, he’d allow the subconscious relief to rise to the surface. It would be admissible, even respectable, that he would begin to date again until there was a woman sleeping on your side of the bed, through the night and whiskey-free.

By this time, one year and three months will have passed since the afternoon of your father’s funeral, after which your mother – with you and the aforementioned boyfriend in tow – pulled her SUV into the garage. Upon realizing that she’d parked her car in the same garage she’d considered setting on fire hours before, she slammed her finger on the door’s remote in a frantic repetition, forgetting that each application of pressure caused the door to begin its painstaking journey opposite the direction it was already going. The door, accompanied by its lethargic motorized sound, rose and fell by inches, back and forth until the boyfriend – usually not prone to sudden movements or heroic antics – snatched the clicker from your mother’s hands and commanded the door to finally open and release you.

At this juncture, no one would think you abnormal, even without your father’s suicide as a factor, to feel that you made an impulsive and ill-advised move from home and familiarity, opting instead for something even more jarring and disorienting. It is the thing of parables for you to reconsider, to repack your things, return home.

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