I think I’m going the right way. I have been here a million times before, but just with her as my guide. Strawberry Fields on the left, two verses of “I just can’t give up now,” and then it’s a right. You drive parallel to the park before swinging under the light and hitting a left turn through residential. We lived in an apartment complex growing up. That being said, it was a common practice for us to spend the weekend surveying houses as if they were imminent realities and not just delusion, as if it were a holiday, and the custom was paying homage to people with mortgages. To be so without yet so sustained, a state of mind I would venture to live in, a fantasy. The state of mind that is never satisfied with where she is. But I think it was vital for me to see, the longing, the waiting, and the eventual letting go. Day by day watching, dreaming, and secretly knowing precisely what was needed. I was about four years old when we lost our home and ten years old when I watched her conceive a new one. Perhaps she wanted this particular house, fourth on the block, grayish blue, with wood wrapping around its borders, painted white. But I turned out far too sentimental for her cyclical surveying to be anything less than intentional healing from the most significant conception she’d ever lost.
One day we stopped in front of that extended blue house. I can’t even imagine what she was going through the day she scheduled a house tour for the two of us. I followed her lead as I sauntered into what I believed would be my room and fantasized about how things could be, all the friends I would finally have over. None of which are my friends today. Even then, I knew it wasn’t a reality written for her or me. Children of divorced parents seem to very quickly learn about the needs of others and the imminent submission of their own. It’s a transcending viewpoint, growing up to witness the woman your mother becomes. She’s bought a home since then, with a new husband, and almost like I was 10 again, I watched her hang a slab of paint on the wall and cherish the place it would live in her home. It was her way of keeping the faith and establishing no doubt in what she wanted to create.
I wasn’t always so admiring of her. Growing up, I hated my mom for silent reasons; we both knew it was more profound than disdain. Even then, though, later down the line, she’d transform into somewhat of a God for me, as I followed her lead and felt lifted in her belief of me. She was and is everything I ever wanted to be but that I was too afraid of becoming on my own, too fearful of change. When I was unsure about whether the boy who first entered me would be my husband, she assured me he would not.
“You will be the possible wife for many men, but it doesn’t mean they will be your husband. “
Even though I loved him deeply, it wouldn’t matter. Her words could infect my mind, and in a matter of months, I would tell him goodbye with a voice and demeanor so sure and wise you would have mistaken my words as my own – but they were hers, and she was right; she’s always right. He’s engaged now to a woman that suits him, but the point is her words were law, and I was willingly devoted to them, no questions asked.
Eventually, there is an inevitable process that comes along and strips you of any comfort, it feels like it’s stripping you away from her, especially from her. And just when it feels like you need her the most, like the purpose of your life is on its way, and with her anything is possible, a subtle shift chokes out her words and fogs your vision. Still grasping her hand, you nudge her forward, ahead of you where she belongs, better than you, wiser than you, everything you could never be. But she keeps falling behind, the one you once watched gracefully stride ahead of you is slowing down right beside you. And the truth that I have discovered is that it’s not that she’s falling behind because she is and always will be the most graceful woman you know. But it just may also be true, that so are you. That maybe she was a woman just like you who has had to suffer and survive. You realize that it was you telling yourself that you were stunted and couldn’t be trusted, it was you who elevated her law and her being above the clouds, who fully and wholeheartedly relied on her intuition.
But eventually, you need your own.
And so some days I mourn her presence. I feel the shift beckoning. The reality is underway, the legacy slowly rising, and the little girl maturing. I must need her in a different way and step into our new role of her needing me. Heat flashes pang, her body betrays her, hormones flood her emotions, and she craves rest exponentially. Your mother needs you in a way that warrants you as an adult, as a woman who can conceive her own life and dreams, to see community and purpose in others, a skill I never thought I had. But now the day has come, and one day I will be the mother she has been to me. One day she will grow old, and she will step into the new phase of her own womanhood. And when that day comes to pass, it’s me who must carry her legacy. This moment was always destined to happen. After decades of watching and relying on my mother and avoiding the inevitable change, it’s here, the severing, the let go, so that I may find my own way. So that I may take all that I have learned, and establish my truth, dream up my own dreams. But of course, I miss her and the childish parts of me that still require healing try and hold on. The phone seems to ring longer than before when I call her and need her right away. And although her advice is still the most beautiful sound I know, the most calming and reassuring message to rest on, there is now a deep knowing in my soul that I just can’t abandon. One that is more true to my own direction. I think she feels it too. After all, it’s the same process she had to go through.
The women who lineage before us leave footprints in our story so we won’t feel lost. I still feel lost. A big part of me even rejects the notion that I am ready. But the shift is occurring with or without my permission because nature knows and trusts its own course, only the foolish try and direct it, control it, give it meaning. She believes in me, and that’s all that matters. Deep down, I believe in myself too, and that matters more. The other day I wrote two words on a post-it and stuck it on my mirror.
If I was going to do this, like really do this, it would be done in the most honorable and efficient way I knew. I was going to place it on my mirror and watch it every day. I was going to facilitate a cyclical routine that ensured our eyes met periodically. To establish responsibility for what I create in this world and in myself. I would walk past it every morning, conceiving a new home for myself with only love, one that housed peace, honesty, wisdom, and faith just like my mother did with the grayish blue house, fourth down, on Diamond Head Dr.