Posted by VERITAS
As a child and even into my teens, I had some very romantic, idealistic notions about marriage, or, actually, more about the act of getting married, in a very superficial sort of way – a nice wedding, a beautiful bride.
Our family’s home life was – due in large part to my father’s alcoholism and manic-depressive/bipolar mood swings, with depression and rage being the worst parts of these swings for other family members – full of a great deal of stress, gloom, sadness, and emotional/psychological pain, mostly emotional though there was the sexually abusive part as well, though I repressed that part until I was an adult, so I suppose my imaginative idealism about getting married may have constituted, at least in part, some sort of attempt on the part of my mind to provide itself with an antidote to or escape from all the negativity it was confronted with in day-to-day life.
Related to this, when I was maybe around seven or eight years old, I saw an ad in Time magazine for homes in Florida that had their own docks or piers in their backyards so a family could keep its own boat right on the water, which, as I recall the drawing in the ad, seemed to be some sort of well-maintained, well-ordered man-made canal or lagoon. The drawing, as I recall, showed a family having a happy time in the backyard as the father cooked steaks or hamburgers on a charcoal grill, the mother happily readied everything on a picnic table, and the kids played some sort of outdoor game – maybe tag or something.
So I started thinking that if our family could only move to Florida – or, in a way, escape into the “Florida” of the ad itself – then we could be happy. I actually suggested this idea of moving to Florida to my father at the dinner table one evening, but my father, who was in one of his depressive funk’s that night as I recall, rejected my idea with a summary glumness, albeit for the very practical reason that his work was in Nashville (Tennessee, as a professor in the Economics Department at Vanderbilt University) and so it would be impossible for us to move to Florida, and I think that even then I may have sort of realized, just by the way my father rejected my idea – without seeming to possess any understanding or empathy for why I might be attracted to such a fantasy – that even if we somehow could move to Florida it wouldn’t be likely to change things.