If the 15 year old me could see me today and know that I am actually calling my mother on Mother’s Day, well the 15 year old me would have to pick her jaw up off the floor.
First she’d want to know what I’m wearing. Dark blue jeans, black and white striped shirt, black combat boots. Vintage brown leather jacket, loose like awesome-style. Shaved head, standing in the sunshine. I think she’d approve.
Seriously if she could know that at 27 I would be living in California and stepping outside on a bright, windy day in May to really seriously call my mother on Mother’s Day, she really seriously would probably cry. California!? How’d you get there? Calling Mom??? Are you medicated?
My mother- who never read me a story or braided my hair and always asked me to leave the room whenever my step-father was headed home. Who hated my darker fashion taste and the rest of my appearance, ideas and words. My mother- the woman who actually demanded that I obey my step-father’s racist rules about my friends. The woman who accused me of worshiping the devil because of my red nail polish and black journals. The woman who had wild audible sex with her husband while I turned up the TV in my own room down the hall.
This woman had me in her 30s, raised a museum in her 40s and built her dream log cabin house in her 50s. My mother. Human, after all.
The woman paints like a professional, drinks like a lady, shops like a fiend and hugs like a … well, the woman can’t hug for shit. I could see her for the first time in years and get a pat on the back. It’s true. Hugs for shit. The 15 year old me needed a hug, it must be said. 15 year old me was lonely as fuck.
Back in those days we lived in a hot weather state and spent most weekends lounging on the islands that hugged the Mississippi Sound against the coast. We traveled out by boat and anchored up by shore. I spent whole nights out there in the boat’s cabin rooms or in a hammock up top. Watched a lot of water pass by, watched a lot of waves fall over themselves trying to reach the beach.
The farther I felt from my mother throughout the unfolding years of my early teenhood, the closer I felt to the landscapes of the Gulf Coast. Brown pelicans, surfacing dolphins and old laminated sea maps had a hell of a lot more to say to me than my mother did during those years.
We fought like mothers and daughters do but with the accompanying dragging pain of losing our family and my brother, her son. We hated each other because we hated how life had changed and because we still had to live together. Like Oh damn it wasn’t a dream. But look - sand, ocean, breeze - oh. You’re still here? I spent a lot of time alone.
We trudged through the years together because even though everything else was broken, we were still mother and daughter. But we were that mother/daughter set that comes with it’s very own repel zone, a force field much too alive to give into simple love and support. We could not live together. By the time the 15 year old me was to see another Christmas, I was living in a different state with a different set of parents. It was a great idea of mine: first get the hell out of their house, then sanity will come to me. Well sanity did come, it came unto us all. It just took it’s goodgodamned time getting to us.
This woman has changed y’all. This woman and her husband both voted for Obama in 2008 - for serious. And considering that my hair has gone from dyed red shoulder-length to zzzzzzip, and she actually likes it, I say that it’s for real. I believe my mother has truly morphed into a new version of herself. So what is this? Her 3rd life? Dream house, dream field of flowers alongside, dream creek down below. Most ignorance whipped into knowledge, most happiness found within. Good for her.
I am happy for her. I’m also happy that I am not tormented by her any longer. Seriously. I hated that house and that life. I loved the hot sand and sound of water lapping against piers and all those sunset evenings but I hated going through school and going home each afternoon to a couple of lovebirds that couldn’t stand me.
It’s nice to have a mother that believes in me now but you know what, even more than that- the fact that I had to learn to believe in myself - that no one else would - that I had to do the hard work alone - that is even nicer.
I don’t always get it right but if my mom ever loses her faith in me again, it won’t kill my core. I’ll still have some oomph inside of me even if everything else falls apart. I fucking learned to believe in myself, not because she told me to but because I had no other choice.
Today she’s on the opposite side of the country with her husband and her mother and they’re all driving to a novelty town in Virginia and buying a jar of baby food for the dog. We talked for a few minutes as they careened along the curves of the mountain roads. And it went well. I don’t fault her for living life the way she needs to and she doesn’t fault me for my choices. In fact, it’s safe to say we respect each other.
Let’s be serious, some parents are assholes. But if you are lucky enough to have parents that are former or recovering assholes, then give them a shot or maybe a call - once or twice a year.
Right now I have my own space and that’s enough to make life peaceful, for once. I love being independent from my family, living out here so far away from those years with their houses and their back yards and memories. And I still love the darker fashions and I’m living with my best friend who happens to also be my love partner and we are happy. Making my own family I guess. Doing it my way, our way. This is the new fantasy and I’m lucky enough to live it.
15 year old me, you would love this.