My father didn’t believe in God.
He believed in Edgar Cayce and Harry Houdini. He believed in the Rosicrucians, the Masons, and the Illuminati, in secret societies with secret handshakes. He believed in secret decoder rings. He believed in Jimmy Cagney, George Raft, Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson; in Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney. He believed in Maria Ouspenskia. He believed in gypsies and crystal balls, tea leaves, palm readers, mind readers, spiritualists, mentalists, and elegant confidence men. He believed in a place for everything and everything in its place; that no good story should be ruined by the truth, but the best lies needed a teeny bit of it.
My mother isn’t sure about God.
She is sure that she’s prettier in pictures than she is in real life, that everyone deserves to be treated equally and fairly, that she makes the best noodle pudding in the world. She believes in civil rights, gay rights, women’s rights, and every other kind of rights you can stand up for. She believes there are always three sides to every story, that my father could not have survived without her, that food is love, and that there was no way out of her marriage.
I believed I would be dead before I was 24. I believed if I were never born my father would not have been so angry, and my mother would not have been trapped. I believe if I was never born she could have left, or stayed and they could have had a wonderful marriage. I believed in vodka and blackouts, in being numb for as long as you could manage. I believe in country music, cowboy boots, bare feet, and books. I believe my mother makes the best noodle pudding in the world. I believed my father could read my mind.