Mom's husband's Wii is making chirpy, friendly noises in the living room, as I interrogate my sister at the dining room table. I've stuck my new digital audio recorder in front of her to ask about her memories of our teenage years. Mom's bratty cocker spaniel barks like it's defending the homestead from zombies.
Sis: "Tony was doing tattoos down in our basement."
Me: "What? Tony was doing tattoos in our basement? I didn't know that."
Sis: "You didn't know that?"
Me: "No. Where was I?"
We talk a while, then I ask when my parents split up. No one can remember exactly when.
Mom: "He left at least three times."
Me: "He did? I only remember once."
Mom: "There was that time he went and stayed in a tent."
Me: "Why did he do that?"
Mom: "He was mad about something."
Mom: "I don't know."
Me: "How come I didn't notice any of this? Tattoos... leaving... "
Sis: "Cuz you were reading your books. You were in your room reading your books while life went on around you. You were always reading your books. Until you got a job at Roy Rogers, and then you were always working."
Mom: "You were ... escaping."
Some things never change. But at least I come by it honest.