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30 March 2010 @ 06:07 pm
having been fucked is no excuse for being fucked up.  
my mother keeps most of her clothes in my closet because she's never really sure where she'll end up. she shows up in the middle of the afternoon, puffy faced and with that look that means she's right on the edge, that a million things have gone wrong in the course of a hour, and she says, "i have fifteen minutes to get to an interview in portland and i look like shit."

she goes to my room, picks out clothes and puts them on in the same deliberate manner i remember from childhood, a tall thin woman with a cigarette in her mouth and not a burn on an inch of fabric. she pulls a makeup bag out of her purse. her hands are shaking while she snaps and slams MAC compacts, squeezes an eyelash curler with shaking hands. her hands shake so bad that she gets mascara on her eyelids.

"shit."

it's all so familiar i forget for a moment that i'm 19 and not 9. i take a sponge, give it some makeup remover and wipe off the mascara. i say, "let me," and i take the brush.

she looks in the mirror after putting lipstick on, always the last touch, purses her lips, grabs her purse, looks at me, tired and weary, about to cry.

i tell her, "don't. you have an interview and i just finished your mascara. you'll blow them away, so get there quick." i echo what i've heard my whole life.

a mother is maybe the most intimate story a girl can tell. my mother is maybe the most tragic story, the most elusive, full of longing and a swollen ache, but still she's built me. her movements have taught me that i make the choices i make, strange, unexpected, mistaken, but i make them and i walk with their weight in the sway of my hips and my shoulders pulled back. to be sharp with kindness, vast with forgiveness, completely open in understanding, firm in belief and constant in growth. our strengths and weaknesses compliment each other, know where to go when we have no where else. in a strange way, i'm convinced, daughters do just as much in raising their mothers as mothers do in raising their daughters.