When I was a child my room was at the top of the stairs,
where I could (and did) listen to my parent’s conversations
between themselves and other neighbors into the night.
I believe I learned more about being an adult in those late night listenings
then I did in the normal process of growing up,
how a parent could love a child who drove them crazy
just by being who they are;
how a parent is never as certain as they seem
and still somehow be strong.
I learned you could be a parent
and flirt. Preferably with your own wife.
I heard more truth in those late night bridge games
in the room below my room
than I was told for most of my life,
until that day
my own life fell apart.
Then, and only then, did my parent’s truths come out
It was a strange thing to hear the struggles
from their own lips, no longer distanced and protected
by hallways and stairs.
An initiation of sorts, a realigning of stars
that despite the honesty of it,
never felt comfortable,
for either of us.
And yet. And yet.
There was a new strength in that painful honesty.
a palpable thing, a world changed,
yet not as much as they believed.
For the nights at the top of the stairs had changed me,
prepared me, taught me
that things are never as they seem,
even with the ones who love us most
About this poem
A lesson I have learned many times, until I finally really learned it.