Growing Up With a Hoarder
Kimberly Rae Miller grew up in a flea-infested home filled floor to ceiling with junk. Read an excerpt from her new memoir, "Coming Clean," about how she survived her family's secret shame.
Life lessons were dished out over appetizers. Over a basket of buffalo wings, my parents set the ground rules for drugs and alcohol.
"I don't need to know what you do; I just want you to call me to pick you up after you've done it," my father said.
"What if it's late?"
"I don't care how late it is," he said. "I just don't want you getting into a car with someone who's been drinking."
"I'd rather you didn't drink, either. It's in your blood, honey. Your grandparents were alcoholics," my mother chimed in. "If you have to choose, I'd rather you smoked pot—it's not addictive."
"If alcoholism bypassed Dad, I think it will bypass me."
"When I first met your father he drank quite heavily," she told me, looking over at my father. "I told him if he wanted to keep seeing me he'd have to give up drinking, and he did."
My dad went to go "vote," which was his euphemism for using the bathroom, and I started in on my mom. I was always trying to get to the bottom of who my dad was before I knew him.
"You've seen dad drunk?"
"Oh yeah, he was quite amorous. There wasn't a girl in a bar that was safe once your father had a few beers in him."
I could picture him as a silly drunk, but affectionate seemed wholly out of character. I could count the number of times my parents had kissed on the lips on one hand.
When my father came back to the table, we caught him up on our conversation and his grin broadened as he started in on the story of the night my parents met—at an orgy, in 1973.