It had now been a week since I'd written and mailed the letter to my mother's address. I wondered if she got it. A part of me wished it'd gotten lost in the mail. I hoped something went awry in midtown and all letters going to the Bronx were on lock down. Maybe the anthrax scare will come back and threaten all mail known as snail in the tri-state.
Writing the letter proved to be a daunting task. I didn't want to write it. I kept putting it off. Kept filing it under "not that important". I'll get to it when I get to it, I'd tell myself. After all, it's not like she's going anywhere -- I have all the time in the world! Ultimately, I knew that these were lies, but it didn't stop me from pretending to, or wanting to believe my own lies. I could find any excuse to put in front of writing this [expletive omitted] letter.
Underneath it all, I had a fear of maintaining something that I wasn't sure I was ready to handle. So the longer I took to write the letter, meant the more time I had to deny it, or push it away, further prolonging the opening of this box of mystery that is - My Mother.
I gave myself a deadline and incidentally waited until the very last possible minute before the post office closed for the day. But I did it. Phew, that wasn't so bad. Rather painless, actually. Took all of 7 mins to write. My father, who I'll save for an entirely separate post, would ask, "any word from your mother?" To which, I'd respond, "nope, nothing yet."
It was sunny on that Saturday morning, 2 days before Sandy hit. I was walking to class, and stopped at a coffee shop. It was a 12-hour class, so, naturally, I wanted to get my coffee on. It was there that I received a call from an unrecognizable 718 number. For some reason, I didn't even think to hit the F you button. I just picked it up - without a thought.
It was her. And she used my full name. No one calls me that. But, this could not have been worse timing. I was about to head into class, where I would be out of communication with the outside world for the next 12 hours.
I sat in class for the first couple of hours, not really knowing how to stay present. I couldn't get out of my head. Holy shit. I just spoke to my mother. Like it was normal! And I'm going to talk to her again tomorrow? Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. Brain! Stop! Focus. Look alert.
The next day, I gave her a call, as I said I would. And we spoke for a half hour or so. It was like talking to that old relative who you never ever see, and they recall when you were "this high", and you know nothing about them. She asked about my dad - they were married once. She told me what her favorite foods were, and I was surprised to hear that she loved fried chicken. She told me that her favorite singer was Carole King. "Oh, I like Carole King, too. I've been listening to a lot of Joni Mitchell, and Janis Joplin lately." She paused. "You have good taste." [Yes, I know - said the music snob inside of me]. That little statement felt good. In a weird, twisted, I've-been-seeking-your-maternal-validation-for-28-years sort of way.
We set a date to meet. It was the Saturday after Sandy ravaged our area. For me, there was no Sandy in my life. I was up to something BIG. I was going to MEET MY MOTHER for the first time. A friend of mine once made a promise to me that if I ever decided to do this, she would support me by driving me there. Well, that friend came through in the end [like a BOSS! Shout out to Mo]. We headed up to the Bronx that day, not really saying to much to each other. I guess there really wasn't too much to say? I don't know.
When we got to the adult home, I checked in with the receptionist. She called Her and said I can go up. I headed for the elevator and tried not to look around or make eye contact with anyone. I have an extremely sensitive nose don't hide my reactions to odors very well. I'm not even sure if the place had an odor because I held my breath -- just to play it safe. This elevator sure is taking a long time. Impatience wants to creep into my personal space, but I don't allow it. I hear the ding of the elevator. Finally.