On Tribes and Family

JP: Tomorrow perhaps on the drive out [to Prescott] I might talk about why I offer more support for my friends than my family.

PM: It doesn’t it matter because in fact I have a better relationship with friends than with family, and that goes for children and siblings and mother and father….

PM: You elect, finally… We’re free to elect our relationships. We are free. We don’t have to… We can also elect not to reproduce, which I didn’t know until it was too late. But nobody tells us this. At least in my generation there was nobody to say “you don’t have to do this.”

PM: And nobody told me how to avoid it or anything. And then when we did know how to avoid it, she didn’t agree and didn’t do it. So there came a couple more…!

PM: Actually I think one of the most important things that I learned is that you choose the people that are important in your life. It’s not necessary… Of course the tribal thing is very strong and the primary tribal thing is the family. The next one is the community, the next tribal thing is the country…

JP: or maybe the region

PM: The region, especially if you’re from the south, and Kentucky, and Harlan County — you’ve got to read up on Harlan County — and then it grows to the nation, then it should go to the world, but it doesn’t. It shrinks immediately back to the tribal.

PM: So the primary tribal thing is our family and most people, that’s the — in the — what game, master game? — the family game is the no game, and for most people in the world the family game is their game. And that’s the most important thing. And that’s absolutely… and for Spain and all the Catholic Mediterranean countries, and for France, the family is the unit which determines almost everything about your life.

PM: For Remedios, her sons and daughters, and her mother and her father, that’s the most important thing. I’m a satellite like, what’s the smallest moon…

JP: Deimos, around Mars, or Phobos?

PM: So no chance I’m gonna be important in her life. But that is almost a universal thing.

PM: But why? It doesn’t have to be. I escaped it early, before you… before I even knew your mother. I was already outside that. Unfortunately for you guys. But you’re okay, no?

JP: Yes, I’d say life is good.

PM: On the other hand we do need to have some sort of dedication to at least one other person as we go along. And it can change, it can change. So I was really dedicated to Donna, and then I wasn’t. I was dedicated to Marie, and then I wasn’t. I was dedicated to Lois, then I wasn’t. And to Stephanie, then… she wasn’t. So that’s all by way of saying I’m really sorry that it happened to you. But it was happening to me.

JP: None of these things happen in isolation.

PM: Poor Donna, what she went through. Poor Donna.

JP: Not only with you but with Rhett.

PM: But still I suffer sometimes thinking about poor Donna. There’s one photograph that Jennifer sent to me of Donna has a thing over her head, looking downward, with her eyes closed, looking so sad.

JP: That was a fairly young photo, wasn’t it?

PM: Oh, god. It was a heartbreaker, a heartbreaker.

JP: But Jennifer will also… I sent her a picture of Mother… Heather had a little garden at a school and Mother was just sitting on a bench looking down, and I caught her off guard and took a picture. I sent it to Jennifer and she replied ‘Oh, she looks so sad.’ No, she wasn’t sad. I just happened to grab a picture without warning her to smile. She was just looking at something on the bench, a flower or something. Maybe that’s Jennifer’s persona is…

PM: Yeah, everybody comes with their own personas. I remember when Donna and I wandered about the countryside in Tallahassee collecting flowers and blackberries.

JP: I remember your mom saying “Oh, that’s what they call it now.”

PM: But we were in love, and we were dedicated to each other, and then circumstance blew us out of the saddle. But here we are. We’re all still surviving. I think the one who had the worst experiences along the way was Gretchen, and look at her…. she’s okay. She went through the worst of all of it, if I understand correctly what I’ve heard so far. God, it’s unbelievable, a nightmare. And look at her. She’s strong. She went through all of this stuff. She survived.

JP: She’s energized.

PM: She’s amazing. I mean you had it easy.

JP: I did.

PM: … compared to the girls, no question. Gretchen had it really … I’m hoping this time that she will tell me…. Why do I want to know? Why do I want to know? Perverse. It’s perverse. I want to know. I’ve heard bits and pieces and it’s absolutely horrible. Nothing I’ve ever heard is worse, nothing, I have to say. And look at her. For this I admire her 100%.

JP: I give all my sisters kudos for what they endured. I think highly of them even when … [About pouring more Scotch] you’d better not.

PM: One more, and that’s it. If I can sleep, fine. If not we’ll be a little late for the 10:00 appointment. I don’t do the… this is very abnormal. I don’t do this. So why am I doing it tonight? Because here we are.

JP: Because here we are. But we can do it with something other than Jameson’s.

PM: Bah!

JP: Bah!

PM: Irish whiskey can’t be beat. If you want the truth, look to a bottle of Jameson’s. That’s the way I look at it.

Recorded 10 October 2014 at my house: 141008-000144-patrick-on-tribes-and-family.mp3