Thursday, January 18, 2007

i see her in my hands...

but I lose her in my green eyes. My family says I act like her rather than look like her.

Today she would be 59 and I wonder what her online identity would have been? What cellular service she would have chosen; what tv programs she would watch.

She never used a microwave or even a VCR. Her car ran without GPS and seatbelts.

She posted on her "blog" daily: what we ate, what we said, what we felt. Why the pancakes burnt and how the syrup spilt. Ten years of my childhood laid out for my memory in a daily record book after Noxema cleansed her face at night and Oil of Olay replinished the shine. She lotioned her hands and watched Johnny Carson and waited for my father's 4:00 p.m. shift to end. When she finished writing, she'd pick up a crossword, much like my sister does today at the beach, in the bedroom, at the airport.

She never had time to mess me up. Only a decade to nurture. Only a decade to laugh. Only a decade to wipe away tears and apply a kiss and a band aid when a rock stuck in my roller skates on the rough edge of the concrete and stung my shins and blistered my palms when I fell hard.

I don't cringe when someone says, "You act just like your mother." I don't need counseling because she made me feel inadequate. I don't need therapy because she lowered my self-esteem through my teenage years. I don't need a psychologist to tell me it's not my fault and that I am the way I am because of my condescending mother with disapproving looks when I left home in a too short skirt in my boyfriend's convertible.

It's been 24 years and I do miss her. I wish for what I didn't have with her and what my friends don't have with their mothers, because of course, if she were alive today, we'd have the perfect mother/daughter relationship. We'd share stories about our day and then meet for coffee to talk some more, although I never saw her drink a cup in her life. We'd eat lunch at teahouses and swap our most recent essays. She'd complain about dad and I'd laugh and say, "Mom this is too much information!" She'd tell me secrets about life and secrets about love. She'd listen intently, and quietly, to my complaints that the weight of the world seems to be on my shoulders, and she'd know that I really wasn't complaining, but venting in the moment. And she would agree with me, but artfully slip in a word or two of advice . . . and then . . . transcending . . . we would find cotton candy, buy the pink one, and rest on a park bench eating until our fingers were sticky and our tongues were liquid sugar. We would shop for baby dolls and Barbies and stop by the supermarket to buy the necessary ingredients for homemade sugar cookies shaped like stars and Santas. And then we would go for ice cream, and outside the Tastee Freeze we would look up to remind ourselves and whisper outloud: "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. Wish I may, wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight?"