[personal profile] sinnamongirl
My father is an alcoholic and a drug addict. It wasn't the worst in my childhood; he'd gotten clean and sober and replaced drugs with religion. That's another story entirely, the religion. One feature of my life, starting when I was maybe 10, maybe 12 or 13, was the knowledge that we didn't talk about what went on at home. Dad didn't start drinking again until I was 14, but even before that, I remember my mom telling me not to talk about our home life - not with friends, not with teachers, not with fellow churchgoers. I knew that was wrong, but I also didn't argue. One feature of life with an addict of any stripe is silence. Silence maintains the structure. Silence is fear, and control. Silence for my father was validation that he was doing nothing wrong. Silence for my mother was maintaining the precarious balance of life. Codependency is a bitch.

We moved around, a little, after the drinking started again, including moving back to the home of my heart, and ultimately moving to a house on the lower slope of a beautiful, if potentially deadly for the stupid, plateau. I've mentioned, then, my fear and dislike of rattlesnakes, perhaps touched on my absolute loathing for black widows, somehow forgotten the cougars, but have not yet mentioned the coyotes.

And, you know, as much as one wants to make the coyote out to be a misaligned but noble and beautiful creature, reality is that they're often mangy and crazed looking. Still awesome - I'd still fully try to tame one if I found it as a pup, my last thought as it gnawed my face off, "but it's so cute!" - but they're... often not the most impressive animal in the kingdom.

Oftentimes, I would get off work, go out with friends, smoke weed and drink cheap alcohol (at the time, $5 got me a bottle of Night Train or Thunderbird and a bottle of Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill to wash it down; definitely did the trick, though there's a horrible irony in drinking and smoking weed in order to cope with my father's drug and alcohol problems). I told my parents we were watching movies, normally. Since dad often didn't want me in the house, to the point where some nights I wasn't allowed to sleep inside the house so would drive to parking lots and sleep in my car, or at friend's houses if I could find them before they went to bed, even if they thought I was lying, it helped keep the peace at home if I said I was watching movies with friends. Always, always keep the peace.

At the same time, if people knew I wasn't sleeping at home, it would count as "telling" others about our home life. It would raise questions, possibly concerns. It would make it a lot harder for my parents to keep the silence about dad's addictions. I would sober up and drive home - or sometimes not sober up and drive home. For my life, that is the decision I regret the most, and I cannot shake that regret, of my past choices about driving impaired. If I could get home before dawn, I could rest, avoid my parents, make it back to school or work on time.

It was this hour, the blue hour, the hour just before the sun rose, that the coyotes started to come through our yard. I'd get home, park, trudge upstairs and get some water or coffee, then go out onto the upper deck to smoke my final cigarette before sleep. Only a few miles from the river, we often had a fog wafting through the valley, which diffused the light into a soft shell around the house. Before the sun peeked over the horizon and the clouds turned to pink and orange, the world was a misty blue on top of the greens and golds of the valley. Every morning for an entire summer, a pack of coyotes coursed over the road, up the hill, and cut across our yard to circle the plateau on their way to wherever.

This was the only silence that calmed me - myself alone, the gentle sky, the quiet air, the aura of the coyotes' intent focus - halfway between "normal morning commute" and "really important coyote business." There was always one coyote about 15-20 feet behind the rest; I never knew (and still don't) if that meant he was an outcast or the rear guard, but in typical high school fashion, I named the straggler "Holden," and empathized with him every day. In hindsight, if that was a rear guard coyote, it was probably a different one every day. But at the time, all I saw was that lone coyote, not part of the pack but determined not to be left behind. It was never a clear-cut metaphor; I never realized I loved that coyote so much because it was me, and the pack was my family. I do remember the peace that spread over me; if I missed them one morning, I missed them the entire day. Life moved on; I went to college, they went wherever coyotes go, but for one summer, the blue hour was the only hour I knew peace.
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