Have you ever seen The Family Stone? Being at my parent’s house really brought out my inner Amy this year: a bitchy, opinionated grump, fresh out of fucks to give. In my defense, this isn’t homeostasis for me. I was having really intense Endometriosis pain, and even the simple act of smiling was feeling like a heavy lift.
The pain came and went in excruciating waves, draining all of my energy, so my patience was absolutely non-existent. Everything was grating on my nerves, and I began to think the Grinch wasn’t so unreasonable for just wanting to be alone with his dog during the holidays.
And then came Christmas Eve.
My Mom, Stepdad, and I gathered in the living room to watch Don’t Look Up, a satirical movie where Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence plot to save the world from a planet-killing comet. The planet has six months ‘til total extinction. Christmassy!
The lights dim, and everyone settles in comfortably. My family is extremely chatty. I am not — even on a good day. But today is not a good day. The abdominal pain is so bad, even my basic word retrieval is suffering. Sentences are trailing off mid-way, a weird mix of words and sputters.
Not having to make conversation for the next couple of hours is the greatest gift of all.
My Mom is fiddling with the remote, but technology exasperates her. “I can’t get the damn Netflix to work.”
“Do you want me to do it?” I ask.
She cuts me off, frustrated. “NO!”
I must have looked startled. “I have to learn to do it myself.” She says, sweetly, softly.
But she gives up, hands the remote to me, and I hit play on the movie.
“Hallelujah.” I think. I’m completely flattened and really looking forward to tuning out.
The movie begins. Onscreen, a comet is going to kill us all in six months.
“Turn the volume up!” Says my Mom. “Your Stepfather can’t hear.”
Mom: “The remote, honey! YOU NEED TO GET YOUR VOLUME HOW YOU LIKE IT.”
Mom: “Jessica, GIVE YOUR STEPFATHER THE REMOTE.”
Me: “I did, it’s sitting on his armchair.”
Mom: “Honey, JESSICA PUT THE REMOTE ON YOUR CHAIR. THERE. It’s RIGHT THERE.”
Stepdad: “Oh.” *adjusts volume*
I wrap myself up in a blanket, ready to get into it. The first fifteen minutes of the movie go by. Now onscreen, a tense scene in the Oval Office. The room is dead quiet.
Stepdad: “What’s this movie about again?”
Mom: “Just watch the movie, honey.”
Quiet now, I am able to follow the plot. “I love Jennifer Lawrence.” I think to myself. “So talented. Where’s she been?” Half an hour goes by. My Stepdad decides to get up and mess with the fireplace, which is directly adjacent to the TV.
Stepdad (now blocking my TV view): pokepokepokepoke fiddlefiddlefiddle
Me: *cranes neck*
Stepdad, oblivious: pokepokepokepoke
Finally, he seems to get the fire how he likes it. He can’t seem to feel me mentally willing him to sit back down with the invisible telepathic daggers coming from my eyes. Strange.
Setting the poker down, he sloooowly turns around — but not to return to his seat. I realize he is playing human rotisserie. Now warming his backside, he is blocking even more of the television screen.
I wait. He stands there for another five minutes. I stop craning my neck, now resigned to the fact that I’m simply not meant to see this part of the movie.
He sits again. Sweet relief!!!
Another ten minutes go by. THE COMET IS STILL GOING TO KILL US ALL! He stands up again, this time shuffling over to the pantry. He returns with what appears to be a snack-sized bag of chips.
Stepdad: *opens crackling bag loudly*
Me: *dagger glare*
Stepdad, still oblivious: *fishes around loudly in said foil bag*
Me, still glaring: *audible, exasperated sigh*
Stepdad, ever still oblivious: cronchcroncronchcronch *smacks lips* cronchcronchcronch
He finally finishes, crumples the bag, and sets it on the side table. I breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, I can understand Leonardo DiCaprio without every third line dampened by ASMR Fritos.
Stepdad: *fishes around side table*
No. Could it be? No!
Stepdad: *pulls out the second bag of chips*
Me: *swallows scream*
20 minutes later, he is asleep in his chair, snoring at a decibel that could only be described as rip saw.
The movie, two and a half hours long, still has an hour to go, and I barely know what’s going on. I’m aware I’m being a complete pill, but I can’t veil how annoyed I am. I chide myself for being such a petty bitch.
Meryl Streep trots across the screen, playing a sexed-up Trumpian President. She’s gaslighting her constituents and pandering to a billionaire tycoon.
“Make the Apocalypse great again!” I think.
My Endometriosis pain is at a ten. I’m suddenly overwhelmed by emotion. I begin to weep quietly, mostly in frustration with myself. The movie is so loud, my Mom doesn’t see my crying. For the best — I’m being such miserable company, and I feel awful about it. Who would want to deal with me when I’m like this?
I wipe my face. I’m tired. Maybe a comet doesn’t sound so bad.
Just in case we forgot he was there, my Stepdad snorts loudly in his sleep.
The movie is finally over. I nurse a Kleenex, sniffling. I head to bed, flipping through the reviews on my phone screen.
A message chimes on my phone, my boyfriend. He’s smiling in a selfie. “Miss you so much.” He texts. I smile. I miss him, too. Even on my worst days, he still loves me unconditionally. I blow my nose. “I miss you too!” I say. “Just two more days ‘til we see each other.”
My Mom has left the back porch speaker on by accident, and it’s hammering loud Christmas music against my bedroom wall. I get up to help her turn it off.
“I love you, Bug.” She says. I shrug weakly. “I love you, too. I’m sorry I was so awful to be around tonight.”
She smiles and waves me off. “Honey, you are in pain. Don’t worry about it. Go to bed, try to get some sleep.”
I want to hug her, but walking across the room feels like a mile at my current energy level. “I love you, Mom. Night.”
“I love you too, Bug. Merry Christmas Eve.”
“Merry Christmas Eve.”
My boyfriend texts me again. “I miss having my teammate.”
Laying in bed, I switch my phone off. My brain fog clears, and a heating pad tempers my pain. I think about one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s lines from the movie. He’s at his dinner table, surrounded by family and friends, recounting memories and breaking bread, even as the world falls apart around them.
“We really had it all, didn't we?” He says.