In Praise of Parallel Universes

Janice Konstantinidis
8 min readSep 13

A Magdalen Laundy Tale — Families.

In that arresting blur between reality and fiction, in that dimly lit space where every experience seeps into the marrow of your bones, there I was a witness to the derelictions of others, shaped but not defined by the pervasive inattention and indiscretions that populated the landscape of my early years.

My father, a living homage to the intoxicating allure of neglect, was the storm whose gusts I couldn’t escape — inebriated not just by alcohol but by the seduction of escaping the tether of responsibilities. My mother was the anti-matter of my universe, her absence as weighty as a black hole, sucking every sliver of stability out of my fragile existence. I was her concession to a sinking ship, the unnecessary weight offloaded to keep herself afloat.

Deposited into my grandparents’ home, I stepped into an archive of human decay. This was not a sanctuary framed by picket fences and punctuated by Sunday roasts; this was a museum of lives untended, of dreams deferred. The air was thick, laden with stale reminiscences and stagnant regrets. It was as if I were walking through cobwebs — each filament delicate but altogether unyielding, attaching to me as though I were another relic in their mausoleum of missed opportunities.

My grandfather was an unpredictable amalgam of agitation and intermittent clarity — a man whose cognitive decline had replaced wisdom with volatility. My grandmother was a frozen chapel of religiosity, her body gnarled by arthritis, her spirit calcified by years of self-imposed moral rigidity. They were the erosions of time and temperament, their outlines blurred not by the softening touch of years well-lived but by the ceaseless chipping away of compromise.

It was not a home. It was an immersion into a state of existence that contaminated your very essence as ink taints water, unfurling in plumes of emotional disarray. Was it the inheritance of my father’s sins or the environment under my grandparents that mired me in a perpetual state of trepidation? The lines were indistinct, smudged by the weight of the unspeakable.

Where familial affection became a precious rarity, my years at Dover Area School were an oasis. A sanctuary. If my grandfather’s resentment and beatings lay like a heavy fog over my existence, and my grandmother’s constant criticism scratched at my self-worth like a persistent crow, then school was the patch of sunlight that scattered the mist…

Janice Konstantinidis

I am a lover of fine cheese, my dogs, my garden, knitting, photography, writing and more!