Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.

 

Is That a Skeleton in My Closet?

Today is the 55th anniversary of my mother’s marriage to my stepfather, who ultimately became an important and beloved part of the lives of my sisters and me. It wasn’t easy at first. I was an awkward teenager, unsure how to relate to this man who had just entered our family, and I was saddened by the divorce that had made it possible. Divorce was unusual in 1958 and carried a hint of scandal. It was even more of a scandal when my grandparents had divorced 40 years before, and it was front-page news when my great-grandparents divorced in 1892. My great-grandfather, the son and namesake of the most prominent political figure of the day, was 17 and seemingly unstable when he eloped with an older woman, an aspiring actress who, according to news reports, had quite a flair for the dramatic. What followed, as the boy’s parents sought an end to the marriage, was truly soap operatic: the publication of bristling letters carrying such lines as “for an impure girl can never make a pure woman;” accusations of spies posing as hotel guests; a charged trial in Deadwood, South Dakota – and my three-year-old grandfather caught in the middle. I thought of all this as I read of Tuesday’s enactment of a same-sex marriage law in Minnesota, the 12th state in the country and first in the Midwest to have one, amid prophecies of doom for the American family and the republic itself. From where I sit, I think we’ll be okay.

Cerberus at the White House Gates

The Tea Party, the IRS and Me