Disclaimer: This is a little reminiscent of my CWM series, but remains separate from it in various ways. Who cares anyway, right? I didn’t wish it so, but most of this is a played out reality. It reads a lot more melancholic than it is now — these are my thoughts spelled out as amateur analyses of memories I don’t want to completely let go of yet. And isn’t that what evincing is for?
“Ma? Are you still mad at me?”
Silence, sighs and shuffling gaits. Ma is still mad at me.
After her speech I imagined her sighing, perhaps rubbing her forehead of the talkative ache that had developed, then pretending to regain her composure for her friend whom she cared about.
I imagined her smiling as she spoke, “How are you?” her voice was probably soft and quiet.
I sighed, “I am” there was some needed pause as if to give me room for thought, like I hadn’t even decided for myself yet how I was, “okay.” I said eventually.
I imagined her fixing her listening eyes and turning on her alert neural connections, so that when she didn’t say anything I knew that there was space for me to break through, like rivers would through weak dams or like breaths did through stifled sighs.
“I mean, now I’m okay.” I revised my answer, “Ma came back today. My brother and I didn’t end up travelling yet but that’s fine I guess.”
Those initial clumps of river water that came just where the dam had been lifted were smoothing out, flowing serenely in the orchestra I always wanted them to before anything was built in front of them. So I became imbued with some metaphorical embrace that gently removed some bitter flavor — I didn’t want to tell her about my ‘issues’ yet; I loved articulating good memories to her in pretentiously poetic adjectives that even make me cringe at times. And it was enjoyable anyway.
“This past week was so nice without them,” I began “I spent so much time with my other family. And I confronted them about that stupid thing I told you about. They explained to me that he just wanted to fill me with as much love as possible.
He’s such a good listener, so when I talk to him about how stupid and broken I am, he hugs me to sort of bandage it. It sounds cringeworthy, but it’s actually nice.”
“That sounds so nice.” I pictured her slightly tilting her head, engrossed into a tale the same way she would be when her nose was in a book.
“He got really sick a few days ago — after I had been sick. He said it’s because he loved me, so he got sick like me. My brother, uncle and I drove up to him in the countryside. Best road trip of my life. Ma would have killed us if she knew we went with the car, whatever though.
She thinks she’s above their class. They live in a lower socioeconomic class — much lower, but honestly they live much better than I ever did. At least, that’s how I’m starting to see it. Screw affluence if it takes away the little happy things they live with. I know that concept is in like, every movie, but it’s for real. Ma grew up with them, like that, and she was never arrogant about her money until now. After her fight with her brother, she sort of assumed this character, very aggressive, abhorrent and always on the offensive. And very ‘justifyingly’ so.”
“Oh, that’s not good.” Perhaps her eyebrows stiffened in some expression of worry. The plot is experiencing trouble. I’m starting to speak about issues.
“It’s fine, it’s such a defence mechanism. Like, extended projection.
Anyways, there was another day that our uncles stayed over and we made the best meal together. The best winter soup. And duck, our uncle told us that his brother loved duck. It was such a warm comfortable night. Then another one when my other family came and we turned on this really cute heater that looks like a mini bonfire. It’s so cold here now. We put on some animation movie, and some of them snored as the device continued to play noise and color.
He’s literally a cartoon crackhead, such a child at heart. It was the coziest, most warm week of my life. And it felt like months and months — and I didn’t feel bitter about it ending. He has become my best friend. He made me pants from scratch, dude!”
“He can sew!”
“He can do everything it’s insane. And he knows Kung fu, and he learned Hebrew, and he’s basically a scholar, and he also dabbles in chemistry or engineering or something, and he’s the best dad, and he’s an artist, and his voice is amazing. But he’s stubborn, and he’s too much of a ‘feeler’, and he has so little capacity for commitment of any sort, and he forgets all the time, and he says a lot of words that he doesn’t live up to. And I love him forever.”
“He sounds like a really charming man, really impressive and warm.” Perhaps she knew the story was about to end.
“Yeah, I think so too. With his awful qualities intact.” I laughed.
“They are gentle flaws.” I imagined her calm, composed.
“Yeah. He also has this tendency to ridiculously simplify everything. Everyone hates it in him except me. His siblings make fun of him all the time it’s so funny.
Last night after dawn we stayed up talking for so long. And he told me so many things, so many personal things. He said I was the first person he’d ever said this to, and I almost felt like we were kids again. Or like we were in high school. You know that adolescent feeling of fire and future that makes you speak without filtering to a stranger you know nothing about but trust for no apparent reason? Like when you had never planned to say things about yourself but are hit with moments in high school where you felt so safe, like when I first became friends with the crew. Obviously I don’t feel this now I am merely recalling puerile memories. But my point is it just felt like what that sixteen-year-old would feel, this safe recklessness — that’s who I was speaking with last night, except he was much wiser, and a little more guilty of things he doesn’t let on.
I think for my personality in particular, that was such an important experience for me. Ever since I was a kid, I had this tendency to get attached to someone, then idolize them so deeply, that one mistake would break me. It would shock me like some electric current and very stupidly so. I still do that a little now, and I did it with him when I first got attached. I removed him from error. And it was so bad. Whenever he would leave our house, I would feel this heavy weight of sadness — it was such a stupid attachment that made me lose self-esteem and confidence. It made me dependent. And it wasn’t forced. Him entering our lives was more like a trigger to something that was always going to happen. Almost like I was always on the edge of falling but didn’t know it from all the self persuasion and quiet I put myself through. At first I blamed him for this, but I guess all he did was shine a light down the precipice and told me it was okay to fall a little because he was going to help me. This is turning into a really lame analogy, bear with me!”
Maybe she sat with a palm on her chin and a slight giggle on her lips.
“Anyways, it was a turbulent oscillation from problem to problem until God helped me recognize that I was always in this alone. And that God puts people in our lives as guides or as facilitators — but they won’t die with us or take responsibility for our actions. That’s all on me, accepting it and taking it head on is my choice, because my other option is to remain afraid and leaning on the mirage of support that exists in this life.”
“Yeah, absolutely.” The tone was getting more serious. The problems were impending, maybe she assumed.
“Then there’s Ma.” I paused, sighed and for a moment didn’t want to continue. For a moment I didn’t know how to, or if there was a point to any of it. But I slowly removed thought from my words and just spoke, “Whose become an obstacle,” what a blasphemous truth! “whom I need to be patient with,” another sigh and realization at some truth I wanted to believe so badly I wasn’t a part of — that I was fantastic and those stopping words were my only hinderance, but I was hampering my soul too, and not admitting it would be building a dam again but with my own hands, in front of my own river, “and I haven’t been patient.” I admitted sombrely.
I don’t want to speak of the details. I don’t want them to engrave themselves onto my heart as neatly as the good recollections have been etched. I want to do better to carve better memories than these. My friend understands. She knew Ma. Everyone knew the real Ma.
“You know, when you tell me this stuff it’s so hard to imagine,” her eyebrows were probably stiffened, her voice tender but sad, “Because Ma, the one I know, is so different. I get sad thinking that she changed so much.” Maybe a shaking head, then a stifled sigh.
“I know,” I felt the subdued ambience of quiet being sprinkled with trinkets of sad, “I was reading old journal entries the other day, and in them I had expressed so much love for her. I was so attached to her. And I trusted her with my soul. I don’t know how it got to this. It broke me reading them — I couldn’t even remember what it felt like.”
“Everything God has done is for the best.”
I need to learn how to begin to detach. This was much longer than I thought it would be.