Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dysfunction Junction

Someone I love is doing something that is bad for her: She wants to move to Dysfunction Junction. I've been fighting it for a couple of years, trying to remind her how traveling by rail always makes her sick and how much she hated it when she last lived there.

Yesterday I got a call. She not only has bought tickets to Dysfunction Junction, she’s already packed her bags and made plans to take the kids along.

In the past as she’s talked about how I should give Dysfunction Junction another chance and how it has improved since the last time I was there, I've become incredulous and angry. How can she move back there when it was horrible? Does she remember that the bad roads and ridiculous housing prices and lack of Qdobas made her cry? Sure, her parents lived there, but doesn't she remember growing up in that shitty little town? Doesn't she want better for her kids?

Last night, as she told me about her preparations for her trip to crazy, I just let her talk.

Then I took a deep breath and told her I’d drive her to the station if she needed it.

At some point, you just can’t fight it anymore. You have to sit by and watch people you love take trains to places that are bad for them. You have to watch them take their kids with them. You have to swallow the fear and panic in your throat and accept that there isn't anything you can do to stop them that you haven't already tried--multiple times.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was arrested, imprisoned in a concentration camp, and eventually killed because he was part of a failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler. He said that if there is a madman driving a car toward a group of pedestrians, you are morally obligated to jam a stick in the spokes of his tires, causing him to wreck and possibly die in order to save the innocents.

That story has been going through my head for the past couple of years. Today I accept the truth: I don’t have a big enough stick.


  1. That is a really sad story, and a really heartfelt one, too. I hope she is okay, and that you take care of your worry over this as well. I have a great empathy for all things "others" when it comes to letting go. Sometimes you have to--and keep your stick for a later time.

  2. I have watched good friends--best friends--wilt and die in the town that we grew up in. I moved away from there one week after I turned 18, and I have never looked back. Some places are pure poison, and it's so rough to watch someone you love move back to that.

    And in reply, I love While You Were Sleeping! I am a sucker for a love story too. I just watched Hope Floats the other day--too cute. Just love it.

  3. This is a sad story - but so beautifully written. You have real talent. Thank you for sharing it with us.