Over fifty years afterwards, when I’m looking at my childhood (and want to mature as a writer), the question of where to start hangs over me. Irving has changed significantly, from a small town to a huge metropolis, so going back there wouldn’t help that much. By and large society has changed too; apartments have replaced many of the houses; the neighborhood where I grew up is no longer on the outskirts. From today’s perspective, the division that separated my family from the family next door would not have occurred in 2008 (thank God). Silly? No. The stigma that came with divorce and wife-swapping then…the scandal then and my parents’ holier-than-thou condemnation of our neighbors over it…was mitigated by two divorces in my own family.
My mother the Sunday school teacher, the Southern Baptist believer, held herself up as an example to us, and, was the reason why we rarely played with the kids next door, as they swapped homes with their mothers. But my mother, whose biases in the earlier fifties seemed well defined, had to change as crisis occurred in her family, some of which had to have challenged her beliefs. I don’t know for sure. I had by then moved out of the home: we never talked about these things…the reasons for my sister’s divorces. Her faith formed the basis of my mother’s life; it was, as I have to admit, a positive part of her life: it made both of my parents happy. It was where they found their friends, there and within a travel club. And as their son, and a writer, I think I have to come to grips with who they were. But the young man had so defiantly condemned their so-called narrow-mindedness in the past, only to wonder how much of it had rubbed off on him. When I write my next short story about the two households mentioned here (Matt Freese I’ve started), I will look at all of this as honestly as possible: and I’ll find out