I started and, as quickly as I made the decision to begin, I stopped. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t in the right place. Opportunity is knocking so I’ll just share the beginning.
All It Takes
I don’t know how to even start. People hear my stories and, if they don’t know my mother, they think that I’m the crazy one. All my life I’ve been driving people away that don’t understand the level of insanity that I’ve been enveloped in because naturally, they cannot relate. Sometimes I’m unsure as to whether a memory is real or embedded into my subconscious by my abusive mother. I was told stories over and over again until it became a part of me, a part of my history. This story, to the best of my recollection, is true and it is mine.
It was a bright, sunny morning when I went out to the deck. She was lying on a lounge chair, soaking up the rays of the sun when I came out with my bowl of cereal. I don’t know why I was always trying to find my own food but I remember that it happened a lot. Her skin was the color of tanned leather and equally tough looking. Her hair was so light that in comparison to her skin, she resembled that of a Palomino. She placed a hand near her forehead to shield her eyes as she turned her face toward mine, her blues eyes glistening with tiny pupils. When she realized what I had come out there for she hopped up and told me that she’d get me some milk. As she walked past, she mentioned that I should not put water in my bowl. I never understood why she thought I would do such a thing.
I don’t remember much of my childhood on a grand scope. I only remember bits and pieces of mostly disturbing things. It was a rare occasion that something positive stuck in my head. The trips with my dad in the car, I remember some of them. I recall being in the Cabriolet, with the top down, wind blowing through my father’s flattop, listening to the hits of the 80’s on the radio and thinking, “This is the coolest guy in the world.” Every now and again one of those songs will come up and I’m immediately taken back to that place where I understood that I felt differently when I looked at my father from when I looked at my mother.
It felt like nothing was there when I looked at my mother. There was no real emotion coming from her eyes when she spoke to me. When my dad would come home I could see the slightest set of wrinkles from the corners of his eyes when he greeted me with a, “Hey sis,” as if his eyes were smiling too. Mom would dismiss us all day long and when dad came home, she was the attentive mother that we wished she was while he was away. All day long we’d be out in the forest exploring new places, staying wary of poison oak, rattlesnakes, and scorpions. Dad taught us how to identify mountain lion and bear tracks, as well as signs that they were in the area and we did our best to carefully avoid these places.
At night, she’d come in with warm pudding sometimes, with that thick layer on top, my favorite part of the dish. She’d serve them in my great-grandmother’s bowls as far back as I can recollect. I remember feeling the bumps on the bowl as I greedily ate all of the chocolate that was presented to me. I remember being confused even then, to have a mother that dismissed me during the day, only to turn around and be the attentive mother around and after dinnertime.
We’d sit at the table, all five of us, feeling suddenly transferred into another home, one where our whole family was normal and loving. I remember taking my father’s dish when I was finished with my own. Fondly, my father would look at me and thank me, following that with my nickname, and I’d bring our dishes to the sink with a sense of pride in successfully showing my father that I loved him. I don’t remember if we even talked, or if we sat at the table silently, simply happy to finally be acknowledged.
When my mother told me stories of when I was a baby and how I would coo when my father came home, she would have a twisted sort of look on her face. The level of resentment toward my preference for my father was all too evident in the expressions and tones of her voice. It was as if she told me these things with her jaw so tightly clenched that her words came out in a strange sort of way, in a way that made spit gather ’round the corners of her mouth, a way that made me feel unsafe. Monotone words would reach my consciousness with a sense of bitterness at the comparison of affection I displayed for either party. This is how I remember feeling, as if it was wrong to love one parent more than the other. She never gave me a chance; every time I tried to hug her or cuddle up next to her she would push me away and convey that my actions were less than desirable and that my tenderness was not only unwelcome but it was insufferable. My heart would ache and, feeling dejected, I would avert my attention to the beauty of the woods, where I still felt a sense of magic and wonder.