From the August 2010 magazine.

GENIUSES AND ALCOHOLICS

AT MY family reunion two summers ago, my husband and I were the only sober ones in the crowd. My uncle had planned a beautiful walk through the woods, accompanied by a sweating bagpipe player, to a stream on beautiful Bowen Island, where he promptly cracked open plastic glasses and scotch and made a toast to his long dead and alcoholic parents. The smell of the alcohol alone was enough to send me packing. Later that night, my uncle "fell" out of the second story window of his bedroom. Sleepwalking or suicide? It depends on how you look at it, I guess. Oh, by the way, welcome to my family.

If you go back through my family tree, my dad's side is lined with geniuses and alcoholics: a boy who didn't speak a word until he was 4 and then spouted full sentences. He later earned a full scholarship to college. His brother committed suicide. My dad was in remedial reading, then went on to Yale, but then got kicked out (cocktails, anyone?).

-- SARA S.

Vancouver, British Columbia

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