Mother and I

May 7, 2008
By Simmone Bray, San Jose, CA

She spoke to me with the abrupt crudeness one might use to speak to a dog. A bossy manner, with a lack of censorship and sensitivity within her voice.
I always responded the same. A few carefully selected words, handed out with a blunt, indignant tone in an attempt to tell her I could care less about her opinions. Yet it rarely quietened her.
Armed with a clinking glass of ice and whiskey in one hand and a cigarette, (more ash than tobacco) in the other, she’d judge me, the mistakes I’d made, or the mistakes, that in her eyes, I was inevitably going to make. She could speak for hours about how I was the foolish woman she’d always wished I’d never become.
I believe she thought of me as her pet. A lower class animal, although badly trained and disobedient, eagerly awaiting her guidance and her love.
And I suppose that in a lot of ways, I was.
I’d heard so much about the love of a mother, and I wanted so desperately to have a part of that. But instead, I’d disappointed her. I’d grown up and found myself, and within me, nothing resembled her.
I’d come home with my hair cut short, and stripped of any natural colour, with dirty hands, and dirty knees from exploring things that ladies should have no interest in. I wore black during the summer time, and refused to wear the dresses that she would carefully lay out on my bedspread when company arrived.
It was times like these, where our stubborn differences shone, that we would fight. Not the clenched fist and sharpened nails fight, but the verbal kind, where what isn’t said hurts more than what is. (“I’m sorry.” was not a phrase within my mother’s vocabulary.)
In her eyes, I’d done everything in my power to rebel against her, and her dream of me becoming a lady.

What I never told her was that I had grand illusions for the two of us too. They were always of past experiences where we were young, and life had not yet left its harsh impression upon our skin, but just like her, I longed for a different relationship.
I once had a dream, which, although ephemeral, I’ve relived so many times I’ve almost led myself to believe it once occurred.
I was five years old, with long blonde hair, it was tied, by her, in pigtails with pale pink ribbons, because as she’d say, “Pink’s for girls who’ll one day be a lady”.
She was young, and pretty, (worry and wrinkle free), in a flowing dress that to me, resembled springtime. We were in a park, surrounded by nothing but the radiant green of nature, and the sun was slowly turning our skin to a light shade of red. I was on a swing set, feeling the exhilarating breeze press past me, as she pushed me higher and higher. As the swings flew back towards her outstretched hands, she pushed me once again and said, “My dear, not even the sky could stop you from reaching the stars.”
My vision may have never occurred, yet it’s the most tangible and treasured memory I have between us, and I wake up everyday with the hope it wasn’t a figment of my imagination.
That there was a moment within my life, where we loved each other completely.

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