Not long after the column appeared, Kathy [his wife] and Jamal [his son] went to Worcester to spend Christmas with the Ambush family [his in-laws]. I stayed behind in Washington. Christmas no longer meant anything to me, and I preferred putting in extra time at the office to celebrating a holiday about which I no longer cared.Even as a time to spend with family? There's more to this than dissatisfaction with religion, but he has never even described his loss of Christian faith (though he has described many instances of race discrimination by individuals who purport to be Christians).
I started drinking as soon as they left. I woke up sick and depressed early the next morning. All I could think about was the angry reaction to the Post column.He didn't think of his wife and child going off without him for Christmas? He didn't think about whether he wanted them gone so he could drown himself in drink? This memoir gives us the material to see how much of his problems were personal psychological problems. His grandfather abused him and deprived him of love. He seethed with anger and couldn't feel the love he wanted to feel for his family. He had a serious drinking problem. But the conscious narrative is that he was the victim of race discrimination, especially coming from liberals who wanted to herd black people and deny them their individuality.
It made no sense to me. Why was it wrong for me to speak my mind? All at once I felt an overwhelming desire to drive down to Savannah and see my family. I didn't understand why -- Daddy [his grandfather] and I were as distant as ever -- but somehow I knew I needed to be with them. I threw my clothes into a suitcase, grabbed a six-pack from the refrigerator, and headed out the door. Freezing rain had fallen during the night and the windshield of the car was thickly covered with ice, but that didn't stop me. I chipped it off and headed south, drinking beer and watching other cars slide off the road and crash into one another.
ADDED: In the next paragraph -- I'm blogging as I read -- he decides he has to leave his wife "in order to survive." He confesses to "the emotional emptiness at the center of my marriage," but he has abstained from writing one unkind word about Kathy. That's understandable, but it makes the story a little false, and I'm left wondering about how honestly he's portraying his emotional trajectory. He hasn't said anything about sex. And he began studying for the priesthood and believed at one time he had a calling into that life that demands celibacy. There are sexual themes that are utterly unexplored, and yet they will become central when Anita Hill appears on the scene.