I can feel my former, angry kid-self flinging my school shoe in frustration off my feet and it colliding with the glass doors. And then my dad instantaneously bursting into my room, his eyes fixed on the gaping hole.
Woah, was all I could say.
I wake up everyday at my mother’s house, with excitement about what the day has in store, with the same word pressed on my lips.
Woah– this was the most time my mother and I had shared since she left.
Woah– we hadn’t had a fight yet.
I don’t know a lot about my mother, only our shared past life before our migration patterns changed and we parted ways.
I know the obvious, indisputable things like we look the same. That we are both people-people, yet often feel disappointed by friends or lovers. That we laugh loudly and with all of ourselves. And we’re terribly sentimental and messy.
However it’s rather confusing to think her and my dad ever shared the same bed let alone a life of 20 years, side by side.
They are such different people. It must have been like waking up from a dream of many years, and realising your partner speaks a totally different language. And better yet, uses that as an excuse to ignore you.
My mum and my last meeting ended with both of us not speaking. It was my 23rd birthday and we were having a great time, until we stumbled across the unsavoury elephant in our patched-relationship, which was that we had different versions of the past.
In hers she left an unhappy marriage, wth basically nothing and had to start from scratch.
And in mine, my mother departed with my dad’s credit-card, half our furniture and my brother while I stayed behind, along with all the other things she didn’t want.
That night, it quickly became a contest of who was worse off without the other; who was poorer, lonelier, forgotten.
I remember she walked out as I sat crying at the restaurant, draining the champagne and then heading for scotch before my dad called the hotel to cut me off. It was like I was a child again, and my mother had walked out on me- again.
We didn’t speak for years after that.
I remember it was so painful that I couldn’t even talk about her. Her words had scorched, shelled and shacked me, and like a lizard I had grown a new skin in my defence. One that would curl, whenever someone would mentioned her.
But this time around, we purposely avoided the past.
We bit it from our tongues, despite it being the main thing we shared.
I don’t know what her daily habits were or her opinions on things. What she hoped for in the future ( that changed regularly ) or what her favourite dish was to make… how she wore her hair or what she does on a Friday night…
All the little things, that make you feel like you know someone in that moment were all question-marks.
It felt like, for the past decade, she would always exist at a distance.
My dad said she was like her mum- a free spirit. And it always bothered me, as I knew he was right.
My mum was the first person to break my heart, and if I’m being honest, I don’t think it ever really mended. But because of that, so many beautiful things manifested in its place.
Like empathy- I felt my heart grow. Suddenly it was easy, or should I say- I felt I needed to put people inside of it.
But it also hurts so much more when they would leave.
And my writing, another gift. A need to know, an incurable curiosity about people. And why they do things, and how and for what.
At her place, we’re surrounded by things. She always had this habit of buying things and never being able to stop. Thus, her home always looks crowded and full- much like her fridge. Plants perch on couch cushions outside, as there is no space for them in the garden.
Christmas decorations hang from the stairwell, reminding me of how my flatmates told me to take down the birthday stuff a week past, despite my protests.
I should have argued it’s genetic.
Her upstairs floor looks as messy as my lounge room.
Her fridge, splattered with photos of my brother and all the dogs we had over the years.
Despite not touching on the past as much, it’s hard not to be reminded of, or to see she still lives in that time. The better parts of it. And I know my dad does too.
Seeing all this, it reminds me that she’s a good person with a big heart. Which is something I think I always knew about her, even as a child. I just forgot with all the pain.
It was in the way people reacted to her, in her smile, that was always alight in pink lipstick. A black plastic wrapped handbag with red cherries that was stuck to her hips, and this means of lighting up a room, the moment she entered it.
It’s nice to know that even though we’re not a permanent fixture in the others lives, that some things about people don’t shift with time.
That who a person is, all their best parts, they can carry with them through any hard day, and still make it home, whole.
That people and time may change, but a person’s core stays the same.