My brother and I pulled up to the house, and we both immediately breathed a sigh of relief when we realized that he wasn’t waiting outside this time. When we’d come to pick him up last year, we found him already waiting on the porch, inexplicably holding a bag of beef jerky and pacing like a nervous animal. His agitation was palpable as we approached, and it even took him a moment to remember my brother’s name.
So we were relieved to find that this year’s get-together was so far unburdened by anxiety-induced amnesia and mysterious bags of cured meat. We stepped out of the car and made our way to the front door. I knocked, and we waited for an answer. I was 18 years old, my brother 22. It was Christmas Eve, and we had come to a group home for the mentally ill to take our father out to lunch. I have not seen him since.
My parents separated when I was about 6 years old. I remember very little about those days before the divorce. In fact, the only fragment of a memory that I am ...