“Mother, you need more hobbies. You like Percy Sledge, can I say you’re a Motown fan?”
Cathy was always the formal one. I don’t know when it happened, this Mother business. She called me Mommy and Momma when she was little, like all kids, but at some point, Mother reared her head. It feels so serious, and so mocking, like she’s saying I’m not really her mother at all. Or that all I am to her is the person who birthed her. Mom and Momma feel like terms of endearment. Sally and Irene never seem snide when they call me Mom. But then again, they don’t call me much.
“I guess so. Your father was the one who loved Motown so much, not me.”
“Well, you need to say something else. What about sewing, you used to sew stuff for us.”
Sewing? A hobby? When the girls were little, sewing was a necessity. A hem here, ripped pants there. I had to make the clothes last through three girls. I had to make sure they put in five years of wear and tear. In front of me right now, hanging in my closet, are two Halloween costumes I sewed over the years – a mouse and a pumpkin. They’re made of cheap, scratchy felt, the kind that makes you sweat even when it’s frosty outside.
“You could say that, I guess.”
“What, Mother? I can’t hear you when you’re talking to your clothes.”
I turn my head to talk to Cathy, and she’s not there. Her laptop is open and glowing. I walk to the bed. She’s not in the room at all.
“Cathy? Where’d you go?”
Her voice floats in from the bathroom, muffled through the door. “I’m just using the bathroom, relax. You don’t have to keep an eye on me all the time you know.”
That’s just it though – I don’t know that. The other women from my walking group talk about letting go of their kids. About how their kids tell them about people they date, staying out all night, even people they have sex with and drugs they ingest.
My kids will always be my kids. Every time I call them and they don’t call back, I check the news for crime reports. I can’t help it. A part of me knows I’m always responsible for them. I brought them here, and I have to make sure they stay here.
Continued from here.
For some reason, I crave Cathy’s approval. The more she doesn’t give it to me, the more she snorts, mocks me, and declares my life pathetic, the more I want her to see that I’m a rational, viable adult. I don’t know why. Sally and Irene both treat me like a regular mom, and I never feel like I’m performing for them. It’s only Cathy. She makes me tear my hair out and scream and yet, she’s the one I call when I need help. Because she’ll be brutally honest with me, which is what I need right now.
So she lounges on my bed, the bed that I shared not that long ago with her father. She types out my online dating profile. She’s making me better, she says. She takes my occasional hikes in the park and turns it into a love of nature, my one remaining loner cat into a caring pet owner. As much as she acts like she pities me, Cathy makes me sound like a kind, warm woman, capable of loving and being loved. Which I suppose I am.
“Come the weekend, you can usually find me relaxing with a cup of green tea at my local coffee shop. I like to support local stores when I can…”
Hearing her read my airbrushed life makes me uncomfortable. I sit at my dressing table and start organizing the atomizers. Not a one has any perfume left in it. They’re relics of my past. I can chart my whole life since marrying Herb by these bottles. The Chanel he bought me for our third anniversary, the Clinique Happy Cathy and Irene wrapped in old comic books for my 43rd birthday. Without these bottles to mark the events in my life, would my life cease to keep going, I wonder. Morbid thought.
Here is an experiment. Enjoy.
“DTF? What does that mean?”
Cathy smirked at the laptop screen.
“It means ‘Down to Fuck.’ Are you, Mother? Down to fuck?”
Wincing, I turned to hide my face in the closet. A burning blush started at my neck and traveled up.
“Don’t be so crass, Cathy.”
“Mother, if you’re going to do online dating, you need to know the acronyms. Otherwise, you’ll be meeting a guy for what you think is a date, but is actually threesome.”
For the fourteenth time in three minutes, I regretted asking my daughter for help. I always regret asking her for help, but this time it seemed like a pretty good idea. I’ve never done this online dating and Cathy has. Since Herb died, I hadn’t thought about dating at all. I was too wrapped up in mourning him and thinking about him. But ever since I turned 60, I’ve been thinking it’d be nice to have someone in my life, to share things with.
When I called her yesterday, Cathy made me beg her for help, first laughing at me for wanting to date, then whining that she didn’t have enough time to come over and “make her mother sound like someone you’d want to take on a date.”
I know you’re supposed to love your children, but you don’t always have to like them.
I woke up in the bottom of the well. No other place I’d rather be.
Billy knew already about the text messages. But did he know what they said?
“I’m 58, I’m not dead yet,” I said, slipping a tank top over my pink bra.
Molly saw two things when she opened her eyes: Leonard had come back, and he’d brought company.
“If you don’t put the dishes in the dishwasher, I will murder you with my hands.”
One minute, you’re going on a third date and sharing dessert. The next, you’re interviewing young women for a threesome.
The last thing I remember is a pair of eyes in the garage. Just floating there, looking at me.
I opened the door, and the Three Tenors were standing my closet, which had somehow turned into my high school gym.
Never again, I thought as I shoveled earth into the hole.
Of all the clothes I could have forgotten today, why did I forget my bra?
I’ve thought a lot about what to do with this blog. I spend a great deal of time every day writing and thinking about writing. Planning writing. Finding things to write about. And friends, I am burnt out.
What I am writing, some of the time, is fiction. Some of it is lines that I’ve mulled over, or turns of phrase. Some of it is short plots. Some of it is humorous, McSweeney’s type lists. It’s all over the place.
And you will get to see some of it. I’m not asking for feedback on any of it. It just that I’m finding my brain escaping to and exploring fictional worlds sometimes, to get away from the real things that I write about every day. I am going to give you a peak into some of these worlds.
Some of these worlds are the size of a sardine tin. Some of them are the size of a high school gym. What I’m saying is, some of these worlds are more realized than others.
When I write things like this, I see the first sentence or thought as about a cubic inch of space. The more I follow that thought, the bigger it becomes. It’s often in a room, and then the room has doors, and then other rooms. The more I write, the more details I see in that space. The more props I give the characters to use, the more they do with them. The more they turn into real people. At first, when I start writing, things look hazy, like I’m seeing through smudgy glasses or fog. The more I write, the clearer things become. One of the stories I’m working on starts in a house. I’m making the characters walk through different parts of the house so I can see what it looks like and get a feel for the layout.
It’s different. I’ve taken fiction courses before (what writer hasn’t) and I’m not always comfortable in this space. But I find myself turning to it as an outlet recently.
So this blog might turn into a fiction space for a bit. Try not to confuse these stories with my real life. They are not my life.
But, just like lies, stories feel stronger when there’s a thread of truth in them.
- andrew weissman
- april fools
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