Tuesday, June 12, 2007

some say it's unconditional, other people just remain in doubt

I wished she had been on my side all those years ago. It was a line in the sand, a line that came between us. The line said, "I'm with the old, you're with the new." The line said, "I know you because of your mother, not vice versa." The line said, "I'm here, you're there." The line separated us permanently, could never be mended. The one adult, the one person of that generation who I thought could really see me- she had, in fact, a sizable and uncorrectable blind spot.

It was no more her fault than it was mine. She knew me to be strong and she wanted me to be the daughter my mother needed. I had not seen her for some years when we had that mess of a conversation in her kitchen. So it was impossible for her to know of the turmoil in my own life. With only a glimpse, how could she see that my life was spiraling downward, that I had felt I had taken one wrong turn on a brief vacation and wound up stranded on a dead-end road with no hope of rescue? I needed to talk to her about that, in retrospect, but how could she have known? Instead, she had given me a lecture at an inopportune moment, and I had been crushed that she so misunderstood me.

It wasn't just that. It was that I was drowning. I was drowning, but since she hadn't seen me sinking, she had chosen just the wrong moment to ask me to carry more water, to take on other people's burdens. I'd felt such heavy weights would surely kill a girl barely treading water. But she only saw my head at the surface, not my legs kicking furiously below.

I wished I had been able to tell her that, that I was drowning, that now was a time for life preservers. But I didn't speak. The words choked my throat and were garbled at best anyway. I couldn't explain myself, so it seemed futile to try to make her understand me.

That is what I regret now, in a different time, in this time when, for a split second, all is set right. I regret that now, because I cannot hug her excitedly and babble about my happiness. Oh, to be sure, she is glad for me, she is nothing but encouraging. But we don't have the conversations we used to have, the stolen ones when we'd both had enough of all the idle gossiping at a dinner party. She would grab me by the arm and in a quiet corner, we'd talk conspiratorially about life.

There are echoes of it every so often. She'll still turn to me at a dinner table to have a private conversation, still sigh with exasperation when my father interrupts to bring the conversation back to him. But the echoes, in some way, just make the absence, the void more acutely felt.

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