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What Love Is
“That's the cat's pajamas!”
That's what she said to me after I told her I loved her.
Did she hear what I'd said? Did she understand what that meant?
I mean yeah, she was a crazy b**** with no self esteem and huge expectations for the rest of the world, so maybe it's like, she never really thought she could love, but she knew I could. She knew I did, because I told her. Why couldn't she at least say it back?
She could lie, I didn't care.
I just needed her to say it back.
Mom never said it back.
When I was a kid and lived with my mother still and we would get ready to go on walks through the park on cold Sunday mornings and she'd be tying a ribbon into my hair to make me look good for all the trees and the flowers in the park, and I'd be watching Sesame Street, and I'd ask her what love meant when Elmo told his stupid goldfish and his d*** camera that he loved them. She said it was like a batch of cookies.
“Cookies?” I would ask.
“Yes,” she would answer.
And that was it. That was the end of the conversation.
The first time I saw Forrest Gump on TV she was in the kitchen, and Forrest was telling Jinny that he wasn't a smart man, but he knew what love was. So I went into the kitchen.
“Momma, I'm not a smart girl, 'cause I never been to school or anything like that, but I know what love is, Momma.”
She was just pulling cookies out of the oven.
“Do you?” she would ask, not even looking at me.
I knew what love was, Momma, and I still know.
You didn't teach me, though. You never told me.
“The bees knees?” I asked Katherine.
“Yeah, that's really rad, baby.”
She jumped off her treadmill and came over to kiss my cheek.
“I love you, Kat.”
She would smile.
“You're seventeen, Amy. You don't know what love is.”
I was seventeen, and I wasn't a smart girl, but I knew what love was.
I knew better than Elmo did and maybe almost as good as Forrest did.
I'd been living with Katherine for five years now, after Momma fell down the stairs of our apartment building and broke her neck.
“Do you love me, Katherine?”
She smiled and winked at me.
"I don't know what love is either, Amy. Just let the blue cloud open the door.”
“You know, clouds are white and all the same. Find something different. The blue cloud.”
“I don't think you're saying that right.”
But I didn't know. I need to find something different, she said.
So I left three weeks later after Katherine fell down the stairs of our apartment building and broke her neck.
I needed to find something different.
Maybe than I could find love.
That's what she said.
And maybe than someone would say it.
I had to leave.
I wasn't a smart girl, but I knew what love was.
And it wasn't no f***ing cookies.