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Thursday, August 12, 2010

A package from Mom

I walk in the front door and see what is sitting on the dining room table and instantly feel the gratification of a child that was able to jump out of the pool and run dripping wet into the street and catch the ice cream truck in time.

A Box.

Just for me.

From home.

Holy fuck it's exciting. I can't decide whether to clap or rub my hands together like Gargamel.

In a frenzy I would be embarrassed if anyone saw, I attempt to pick the tape off, tear it, gnaw it off with my teeth and exasperatedly grab my keys to try to sever the bitch open so I can get my prize.

The box flaps open and reveals some mauve colored tissue paper and an envelope with my name on it on top. Ignoring my instincts to toss it aside and bite my way through the tissue paper all the way to the Reese's peanut butter chips I know are in there, I carefully open the envelope and pull out a piece of flawlessly folded notebook paper and my little heart sinks and my conniptional joy wanes and a dumb lump takes over my throat and a coup is declared over my tear ducts cause I know what I'm going to see.

Not the words or the message in the letter but the handwriting parachutes off the page and glides over me and I suddenly recall all of the things I had seen with this exact penmanship in a turbulence of affection and anamnesis: birthday cards, lists of chores, checks to cover my rent, notes on the fridge of things needed from the grocery store, the pages of the journal she kept when she first got married to my dad that I had found that one day while I was snooping through her shit, letters to a small child that lived too damned far away from her mother, letters to Spain that tried to hide a heartsickness and hope that this wouldn't go on for much longer.

She had upright letters that were a series of perfect arches that stood tall and bold, large and confident, so perfectly aligned with the horizontal page lines it was almost scientific, reminding me of how brutally intentional she was, how you could never accuse her of not wishing to do things exactly right, how her only failure was in the actual execution of the things she had in mind to do, but never in the fervency with which she penned them, with which she had in her mind to do them. The perfection of the print of this letter informed me that my mother had sat down with several pieces of paper, had written some things, didn't like the way they looked, crossed them out, frowned at the strikethrough, then started the letter again, then accidentally placed her coffee mug on the page, cursed herself and then started a new page, blemish free after getting another cup of coffee. I had seen her do it before. She was a perfectionist printer with nothing to do except send care packages to her daughter in Spain that needed packed brown sugar and Midol P.M.and the thrill of getting something in the mail to make it through life.

I had given her a list of things I needed but she always sends some extra things in there too: a new skirt, bobby pins, a DVD for Luis. I imagined her carefully crossing things off an impeccably composed list with her perfectly precise handwriting, a list perfected after many inferior lists had been discarded, smiling inside at the forgiveness inherent in a deliciously blank sheet of paper. I know this because I do it. It's not the shit that gets done that's important, it's the zeal with which the list itself is created and the thought that goes in to each and every item: in what order it will be listed, what the item will be called, what information if any will follow it in brackets, what items should be included in a sublist of any one listed item. If I could only fucking consummate the shit that gets immaculately committed to paper, well, I'd just have all my shit together now wouldn't I?

This is the day to day I don't see of her anymore, her lists, her post it notes everywhere, always signed with a perfect little heart. And then I look around at notebooks I have lying everywhere, grocery lists and scraps of reminders and half literate paragraphs of potential blog posts. And I realize she is in my day to day. I notice my letters arch with the same bold intention to do shit right and I know I just fall short in the executing of life part. I know that my hand curls over the pen just like hers does. I step out of myself and know I even have the same expression on my face right now. She's always right here with me. I just look down at my hands and see her. When I scrawl my name on a credit card slip, it's her, with the same curly, flowery ambition.

And then I slowly and calmly open the tissue paper and my fingers lightly kiss the items that she had touched several days before and damn do I ever miss her.

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People in the Sun August 12, 2010 at 11:41 AM  

Distance is slowly pulling me apart from my parents. I see them once a week on Skype, and once a week I know them less. They sent me this link to a video from Israel. Over half a million views on YouTube, most of them probably from me watching again and again, wondering, "Who ARE you people?"

Blues August 12, 2010 at 12:14 PM  

Wow, that video is eerily similar to shit my family sends me about how pretty soon we're not going to be allowed to mention the Holocaust in public because it will offend 'some Muslim'. Usually I ignore it, but the other day I lashed out at my stepmom, copying all 100+ friends and relatives on the email. I couldn't take it anymore. I have my limits.

flutter August 12, 2010 at 12:37 PM  

I, wow.

Florida Girl In Sydney August 12, 2010 at 5:25 PM  

Thank for making me cry beyotch. Where are my fucking Reeses Peanut Butter Cups? Yeah, I've turned into my mom too, even from a million miles away.

formerly fun August 12, 2010 at 5:38 PM  

I wish I missed my mom.

Isn't that terrible?

Not that she hasn't done wonderful, thoughtful things for me but our relationship is so complicated by this other stuff that I think I've built a wall around me that's near impenetrable. It's for my own protection but still.

So I guess I miss missing her.

Zen Mama August 12, 2010 at 8:14 PM  

I feel the same as Formerly Fun. I miss that I don't miss my mom. I didn't miss her when she was alive and I don't miss her much now that she is gone but when I see a woman my age, with kids in toe, and a loving, tender mom there to help ease her burdens a bit, I usually cry.

Because I never had that. God bless your loving, tender packages from your mom and God bless the lists. It's the lists that sustain us.

jen August 13, 2010 at 8:41 AM  

i'm with formerly fun on this one.

i love my mom to pieces, but i wish she missed me. and if only that made it easier to not miss her.

these things are no less complicated by the missing or distance - near or far, we are always an imperfect reflection of a perfect, idealised relationship, the mother looking back at us in our own mirrors.


Ellie August 14, 2010 at 11:07 AM  

I love this post.

Can you not get packed brown sugar in Spain. I've been looking for it.

Fned August 21, 2010 at 3:42 AM  

My mom never sends care packages and we never skype. If we speak on the phone once every 6 weeks it's a miracle.

But I miss her everyday and I know she misses me everyday.

I've called her in my moments of need and she's always been able to tell me exactly what I needed to hear, even after all this time appart, even across all this distance.

I loved your blog.

Kono August 23, 2010 at 5:23 AM  

For years my mother and i barely had a relationship because of the divorce, now we have one because of my sons and i'm glad i got it back, when she takes them for a visit she seems to always bring me something, cookies or cheese puffs i ate when i was a kid, but this ain't about me, this post was beautiful and fucking beautifully written. cheers.

Lil August 26, 2010 at 3:49 PM  

As usual, I am in awe of the way you craft your posts. The set up and telling of the story and how you so deftly bring it around to your point. Brilliant.

Also? I learned a new word from you today - anamnesis. I'm a vocabulary junkie so this was totally the cherry on top of a hot fudge brownie sundae. Thank you! :-)

A Free Man September 7, 2010 at 10:38 PM  

I don't get a lot of care packages anymore, but then neither do my parents. I had hoped that the distance wouldn't matter, but seems that it does. Moreso than I thought.

Here In Franklin October 10, 2010 at 3:47 PM  

C' promised!

Michi January 17, 2011 at 1:54 PM  

I love packages from mom! *sigh*

Tumbit February 27, 2011 at 3:38 AM  

Yay! - I've got my mum coming over later this week with my red-cross humanitarian aid package, to make life comfortable for me for a furthr 6 months.

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