I don't say this. I take her around town. I push her from bar to bar. And, finally, after I am drunk driving and she is complaining, does she see the pain I'm feeling. "I want to go home! Right now, Jay!" she says. She has this disgusted look on her face. She sees her son's world, of booze and loose women and loose lips. "I'm too old to be hanging out with these chaps!" Yeah, I want to say. No shit.
It is my fault my mother is border line close to divorce at fifty. Well, no it's not. But I feel like it is. There is this new weight. If she isn't married, who is going to take care of her in ten years? Twenty years? Me. Amazing. I sit in class, listening to people speak, and I am planning point for point for my mother's degradation. I was taught that the parents take care of the children and then the children take care of the parents. So amazingly circle-like. It looks like it makes sense and it does make sense. Upon my mother's visit, me, sleeping on my couch, late, unable to sleep, the couch is so fucking lumpy, I know my children won't be doing this. I will have them and raise them and make them these little representations of me, independent of me but able to preach my gospel, tell my stories, do as I do. And after I raise these little Jarvis', then I'm gonna drive off a cliff when they are through with college. They will cry and all that, but, when they have an epiphany or an insight or whatever, they will kneel and clasp their hands and say, thanks dad. I wasn't looking forward to paying your retirement home bills.
I love my mother. I do. But, come on, she is my mother. I noticed how different we are, would be, when I started getting smarter than her with the book and the pencils and pens. It was after she battled and defeated stomach cancer and became super religious. She found great comfort in God. But, after she survived a battle she didn't think she would survive, she saw this as a signal from the Big G to tighten up and do it right. And I accidentally said something.
"If there is a God, I don't think he'd like that."
do you mean 'if'?"
know you killed my dog, Nita!" he yelled once, walking to
the door, for work. And when the door closed behind him she
giggled, scrambling the eggs, saying Prove it. And even recently,
with her visit, her and her friend on the porch of my home, in
rocking chairs, there is a sense of importance. Maybe regret. I'm
not sure what I'm seeing in her face at this age. Somehow I've
lost the ability to read my mother. Maybe I don't care anymore.
I've spent the decade reading other woman, the body language,
trying to figure out what that hip swing means, what that touch
on my arm signifies. It is all so confusing. And then I take my
mother around my neighborhood, around my block, and she is
swinging her hips, smiling, flirting?, with that guy that waves
to me when I head to class.
"I'm a woman, Jay," she says. No. I refuse to buy that. No. You aren't one of them. No. But there she is, walking around, shaking her ass all around. You know, I think it becomes apparent that, just maybe, my mother has had sex before. Later. I call her because that is what I do. I'm seeing someone? This girl I'm seeing tells me that I'm going to Thanksgiving dinner with her. Oh No. Oh No. There are bricks being laid down on the foundation of this relationship that I didn't pay for. Who authorized this foundation? Who told this girl it was fine to make a commitment with me? What does she see? I call my mother for some sort of solace. She had ended things. Marriages. The life of small animals. I call and ask her how I end this growing thing that might make me happy. I can't risk being happy. What will happen to the narrative? I call my mother and ask her what she's been up to.
"I went back home and spent some time with Thomas," she tells me. Thomas? The husband she left? What is this now?
went to church and we went to dinner and we just spent some time
together," she tells me. What does a smile sound like? I
tell her about the new girl and Thanksgiving.
And I go and eat with this family. I do this. Meet so many people and every one of them is judge compared to my family. And I feel good. I feel right. But then I don't feel right. My girl hasn't touched me all day. We get to a bar. People everywhere and I ask and she says I can't do this any more. Do what anymore? Be with you anymore. And I drive six hours back, broken, embarrassed. Tired. Sleepy. My mother calls.
"Give it time," she says. And I admit that I want the babies, I want the house, the love, the warm bed and love, love, love and she laughs and says it again, give it time. Give it time. Give it time. Be patient. She says. Her voice etched and hurt and different from fifty years. Give it some time. Give it some time. Give it some time.
2007, Jarvis Slacks. ©
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under the U.S. copyright laws.
Jarvis Slacks, born and raised in Hickory, North Carolina, attends graduate school at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. He is also a Teacher's Assistant, instructing undergrads. He spends his free time working on his first novel.