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  • Writer's pictureMichael Lenzi

(Re)Collection: Parents Pt. 4

I have found that in times of dysfunction, simple moments are what I remember and savor. Stuff that is unremarkable when viewed in isolation but has great significance given the circumstances. A beautiful contrast.

Right around the same time that my father was cleaning out my skateboard-related road rash with a garden hose, he was in a losing battle with my mom to save their second marriage to one another. After our family relocation to Florida ended in separation then divorce in 1974, my mom moved us back to D.C. and started again.

What made my mom so deeply, intensely unhappy was rooted in this turmoil. I could do nothing for her. But my dad seemed to return just as my mom's wounds would heal. It was kind of cruel, but it seems to be how things often work, right?

In 1976, the heralded Bi-Centennial celebration was in full swing in D.C. My dad reappeared. Then my parents bought a house together on Nevada Avenue just a mile from our apartment above the foot doctor's office. Domestic tranquility again. Then it started to crack apart at the seams as it had so many times before.

My sister turned 13 and began to unravel. She got kicked out of school, ran away repeatedly, and got thrown into the psychiatric hospital on a number of occasions. On and on. Not pretty. And my parents started to fight again. Really fight. To the edge of violence and back often.

Just as my parents had resolved their differences, their differences were once again irreconcilable. My dad moved out of their bedroom and into the vacant room next to mine. He wasn't working and was home a lot for a change. I knew his next move was out the door.

Thus he was around when I ground myself into hamburger meat on my skateboard. He was also around to make snacks for me after school. Now this was something special because he could cook and what he made was always delicious.

My favorite post-skateboard repast was simple. First, he would fry up an egg, toast an English muffin, put a ton of butter on it and make an Egg McMuffin of sorts. Then, he would toss some vanilla ice cream, a couple tablespoonfuls of Taster's Choice coffee crystals, Bosco chocolate syrup and milk into a blender and make a chocolate-coffee milkshake. We would share that. He made just enough that I got another half glass after both of us were served. We sat at the kitchen counter and ate silently. I can taste the shake now as I type this.

Sweet moments amidst a bitter backdrop.

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