why now? that's actually what she asked when i called. well, lately, i've been feeling like my life is on hold. stuck. like i'm in a purgatory of sorts. without roots there are no wings, as they say. the absence of blood family has been making my life feel somewhere between full and empty, and i wanted to change that. besides, i've been having an intense feeling of rootlessness lately...a lack of personal context. a tree with no forest, you know? i've been feeling like an orphan, which is weird because both of my parents are still living. it's just that, for a number of reasons, they've been out of reach.
i used to be really close to my mother, actually. but there were some things that happened in my childhood that i've been having trouble forgiving her for. i confronted her about them three years ago, and we had a very hard, very emotional conversation about it. it opened up so much for me. rage, actually. pure, white-hot rage. and i started to feel unsafe around her because of the nature of what had happened. it was like it all happened yesterday.
needless to say, things were really awkward afterward. she kept trying to get in touch with me by email, but i honestly had nothing to say. i would click "reply" and then stare at the blank window for an hour or more before hitting the "cancel" button. what to say? what could i possibly say?
we had a brief reunion a couple years back, just before my niece was born, and we saw each other a few times around then. it was actually pretty good between us for a while, but then the shit from the past started coming up again. i think it was in connection to my mom caring for my little niece. kids are so vulnerable, you know? brings up fierce protective, shielding feelings in me...along with whatever the opposite, experiential, childhood side of that is.
but, lately, i've really wanted to call her. i wanted to be the one to make the step and mend the distance. for the sake of family. i want a family.
what would i say, though? what would she say? would she want to talk to me? would we get frustrated or hurt in all the usual ways and give up on each other again? i wasn't sure what to expect, but i knew it was getting past the point where the distance between us could reasonably be bridged. i felt a looming expiration date on our relationship. because there does come a point of cooling (or irrelevance?), when a connection atrophies. it can happen no matter the former importance of the person. i don't talk to my dad, for example. i've fallen out of touch with my first love. i'm barely acquaintances with my former fiancee. (a la somebody i used to know.)
if these incredibly important connections can fade into the background, anything is possible. i *so* didn't want that to happen with my mom. despite our differences and the ways that we falter and fuck up, i do love her. i love her so much, and i didn't want the past to hold us hostage anymore. besides, the tension between giving up on the relationship and giving in to the urge to call was getting unbearable. i decided i would call and try to collapse the inertia. at least something would happen. we wouldn't be on hold anymore.
i held the phone in my hand for a good 30 minutes before dialing. i thought about how hard it had been to come out to her, and then laughed to remember how well it ended up going. all the same, my heart was pounding, and my stomach was in knots. i dialed the number, and then stared at the digits on the screen. it took me another 10 minutes for me to press the "call" button. why is this stuff so hard??
that was around 9pm on mother's day. i had hoped to call her on the saturday, the day before, because the high drama of making contact with her for the first time since 2010 on mother's day seemed a bit much. but saturday came and went, with me mostly ignoring the phone and my plan to talk to her and la-la-la-ing throughout the day with my fingers stuck in my ears. i organized my new place, napped, thought about calling, distracted myself from those thoughts with music and busy work and then spent an inordinate amount of time reading things on facebook. and, would you look at that? the day was over. it was definitely too late to call now.
i was all set to avoid calling her on mother's day, too, but then i went to my yoga centre for our weekly satsang, and the whole thing was about mothers: biological mothers, spiritual mothers, divine mother. all the songs were about mothers and mothering. by the end, i threw up my hands in the air, and i said, "okay, okay, universe! i'll call!"
i sang one of the songs from satsang all the way home, "mother carry me / your child i'll always be / mother carry me / down to the sea..." the light in the trees was beautiful as i walked past the park near my place. dogs were rolling around and playing together on the grass. all the park benches were full, and traffic was gentle. i was hopeful and excited about the possibility of a reunion with my mom. it felt ripe. like it was time. i felt ready for anything.
the trouble with this kind of poetic, triumphant state is that you eventually come crashing back down to earth. (i never remember that part. oops.) she answered the phone, and i said, "hi mom, it's me. it's luna." a stunned silence, and then, "oh. hello." not the epic, grateful reunion i had been hoping for, but at least she didn't hang up. in the long silence that followed, cello music started to play in my chest - you know the kind of hum when you're feeling everything all at once? i think that was the part i wasn't prepared for...for the full emotional summary of the past to flood into me before our conversation had even begun. i started to regret calling.
there were three or four moments in the first few minutes that i wanted to hang up. i really did. some of the things she said. ugh. and there were points when she was completely, compassionlessly silent. when she expressed her obvious surprise that i was still in a relationship after two-and-a-half years, i felt pretty done. (you know how parents can do those passive aggressive things that cut you deep deep deep? she's an expert at that.) but i breathed in and out and stayed on the phone. i kept deciding to stay. every mend happens one stitch at a time, and it sometimes seems as though the two sides are never going to come together again. but they do. and so, i measure my faith in this process with my experience of mending. imperfect or not, almost everything will mend.
eventually, we waded into safer territory, like discussing my grandmother's health and my adorable niece and our work lives. that part of the conversation was pretty good, actually. it reminded me of how we used to talk. loose, open, laughing. we agreed to talk weekly for a while, until things between us re-stabilized. we set a date for our next call, and said our goodbyes.
what i wasn't prepared for was the fallout after the call. my god...it was like one of those time lapse videos on repeat. the over-stim was intense. i wept and got angry and wept and called all my important people and ranted to them and then cleaned everything in sight. it's taken a couple days to re-emerge from all that.
am i glad i called? i'm not sure. but this relationship was tugging on my skirt like a needy kid, so i knew it was time to do something. i guess time will tell what's possible.