We have a canvas print in our basement,
it is a black and white picture of a couple
during the 70s.
Grandma has her curly hair pulled back with a bandana
and Grandpa has retro radiator sunglasses on and a pornstar stache.
My greatest childhood memories include the two people in that
canvas print and their trailer Up North in a tiny town called
It was the kind of place you went for a weekend getaway,
with dirt roads and golf carts as the only form of transportation
once you were there.
To get to beach you had to risk your life running across the main road,
and when I doggy-paddled across the pool my Grandpa called me a little fish.
As a kid the memories felt so pure and joyful, thinking about the
Summer days spent with the people I would never stop trying to impress.
It hurts as I grow into a young adult and realize that
Grandma hasn’t noticed that I haven’t worn earrings for eleven years,
because I’m allergic to nickel.
Yet she bought me earrings for my 16th birthday.
And if I asked Grandpa what I was studying in school he’d still be inclined to say
Tom and Carol were married
but to other people when they first took a
liking to one another.
The first of many things that my family
refuses to acknowledge, or find important in our
But it’s the truth, and it can’t be hidden behind the
yearly Facebook anniversary posts my aunt Sarah writes about
how flawlessly faultless as parents
Maybe we don’t talk to Uncle Jay anymore because
he kicked our dog at Christmas,
or maybe it’s because no matter how much he did wrong
Grandma always made him feel like he was the victim.
Maybe it was regret from spending most of her pregnancy with him
smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
Or maybe she just couldn’t bear to recognize that her second son wasn’t as
as her first.
They sold that trailer at the campground when I was 13.
I think that’s when my childhood ended.
I think that’s when I realized that they only saw me when I was a
before all the bigger and better kid(s) came along (i.e. Sarah’s son, the only child that mattered).
Because they only call Charley on his birthday,
and Grandpa would rather discuss the presidential race with the boys because
they don’t get so damn emotional.
But I don’t want to go back to that town three hours north of us.
Filled with old white folk that probably have Trump 2020 stickers on their golf carts.
I want to move forward and accept that sometimes
bad experiences will taint the good memories.
And that just because family is blood,
that doesn’t mean
our bond is just as thick.
Emily Proctor is a recent graduate from Eastern Michigan University where she studied Creative Writing and Theatre Arts. When she was 12 years old, she wrote and published her own novel. Ever since then, she has tried to harness that energy in her adult writing life. Sometimes she writes for Screenrant because her own blog doesn't pay as well. When she isn't writing, she pursues acting, which also doesn't pay the bills. She hopes she didn't reach her professional peak at 12.