It's a funny thing when you turn 27 and you look back on your life and say, "gee I think my parents have finally grown up". I accidentally said that a few weeks ago but have only come to learn that anything I accidentally say are the things that I need to say, the things that I want to say. More people should wade in such honest waters.
I did watch my mother grow up. My father too for that matter but I am talking about my mother here because she and I have had several self-reflective conversations on the telephone over the past few months. The conversations are generally prefaced by me saying something like, "oh I realized I do that thing that you do, that thing where you create fantasies in your head about all of your loved ones hating you." We both do that. We find our "individual" by making sure that everyone else in the world is away from us. We want to be alone in our individuality because no one gets us.
Over the course of my life, my ma had a really serious case of the hate imaginations. She's grown up because in the past she didn't realize she had a hate imagination and now when I bring up my hate imagination and how I realize I got it from her, she reflectively says, "oh yea, I do do that. I should stop doing that."
I have this vivid memory. It was just months after my parents got divorced when she and my two big sisters and I went to live with her parents so she could get her financial and professional feet on the ground. This memory I have of this particular moment is really something. I don't even know if I can write it to you. I wish I could squint my eyes and squeeze into all of your brains so that you could feel it how I feel it. It is especially strong when I hear that Rod Stewart song that goes "young hearts be free tonight...lalala". I picture me and my ma and my two big sisters driving on the open highway in a '91 Toyota Camry. The sunroof is open, my hands are out the window doing that swirling thing that wind does to your hand when it forces it back but you keep rolling it forward. Just four babes on the road and as the song goes, "don't let them push you down, don't let em push you around". I get that this memory is a cliche but I was only four years old. I consider myself ahead of my time. To be so young and thinking up cliches.
Maybe if you listen to this song right now you will really feel what I was feeling:
Again, I realize I only had four years of life when the memory was created, but at the time I felt like me and my ma and my two big sisters were best friends ready to take over the world. Free women, with more options than we could handle.
To quickly sum up the next 23 years of my life watching my mother, it went sort of like this. Me and my ma and my sisters move to Parma. My ma dates men, fights happen about boyfriends and families. Me and my ma and my sisters move to Maryland, Ma gets married, fights happen about husbands and fathers and sharing. Ma graduates from college, fights happen about fathers and money and love. Ma gets a teaching job and buys a house, fights happen about living and love and money. Ma has a new baby, fights happen about jealousy and neglect. Ma gets a master's degree, fights happen about fathers and love. Ma gets an even newer job, fewer fights happen about money and love and fathers. Ma builds a new house, fewer fights happen about fathers and sharing and jealousy. Ma is happy, little to zero fights happen about fathers and husbands and love and money and sharing and jealousy and neglect.
Ok now we are caught up to present day.
The point I am trying to make here is one that I do not know. I find that sometimes I have to dabble with thoughts where I have no connection to "the what" that I am trying to figure out in order to help me figure out "the what". What I do know for all its truth is that when I thought of the notion of the individual and when I heard Rod Stewart telling me time was on my side, I immediately thought of the years it took for my ma to become a confident individual. And while it is still a work in progress, I know she needed to stop worrying about me and my sisters so much so that she could really dig deep into her own self. Or rather that she needed us as individuals to figure out herself as an individual. Or rather that we robbed her of her individuality and she is making up for lost time. Or perhaps there is no such thing as an individual when we are trying to organize ourselves as societies and communities and families. Or that...umm...Oh heck! I don't know!
Listen to the song again. It feels good.