There’s a man sitting on the sofa, a young engineer who caught my mother’s eye. It’s the first and only boyfriend she’s had. She had plenty of men throw themselves at her. It was so funny to see them rush to open a door or attempt to catch her eye. She commanded attention but threw it away each time. She claimed to protect us by not dating for fear a man would hurt her children. She says I’ll push them away, but she doesn’t know how badly I want a father. What does he want from me? How much am I going to pay for him?
That one guy, the only guy, picked me up from school in his sports car. It was the 80’s, Miami Vice was the top show and In the ‘Air Tonight’ was a song no one turned off. ‘RB’ would lean against the car with his sunglasses on. He’d wait for me to come out. He didn’t greet me and walk me back to his car, he leaned and let me come to him. I hated him. I hated everything about him, but I got in the car and he’d drive me home then go back a few blocks to his home where he and his fiance lived.
He treated my mother like crap and my mother lowered herself to have an affair with a man attached to someone else. But the year they were together was one of the best for me because she was distracted and no longer focused all her energy on us kids. His presence was needed. Despite the constant verbal abuse from her, despite leaving us while she goes skiing with him, despite the pain of seeing her treated like dirt, she did give us a little bit of freedom that year. I can’t think of a year where things were that good for us.
That year was a mix of freedom and assaults. There were beatings, shopping trips, assault, formal dinner out, bike ride through fresh air, horse back riding, painting in the theater club, watching my mother cry, crying with her, seeing photos of her and ‘RB’, feeling humiliated by this affair. Sitting at the table with him, his fiance and my mother, wanting to scream, loving her, fearing her and breathing easier. That was the best year of my life under her roof.
She abandoned us, she expressed hatred for me, she purchased beautiful art, she began keeping the house clean, collecting vintage Coca Cola. We see less of her family. I lay on the floor thinking of my own boyfriend, listening to Celine Dion on the stereo. I’d later find out he’s cheating with my sister.
It’s the first time ever that the house has been clean. I absorb every moment of it while carrying the weight of guilt, marked with the scarlet letter. I’m a liar. I’m the crazy one. I’m going to kill mother’s ability to love me….. I apologize for being a bad daughter. I count the times she hits my sister to get an idea of how bad it will be for me. Watching my every step, watching the sun go down on the terrace, having the palms of my hands beaten with a dowel rod, seeing Zaire in her room, having my lips beaten, trying to breathe with my face smashed in the mattress. ….That was the one and only year when her main focus was off her children. I was a Freshman and It was the best year of my life under her roof.
Now I ask myself, what more do you need to know about this person? If that was the best she ever gave you, why would you go digging up details in your brain to know her as more than a sadistic, narcissistic, sick monster in a business suit?
Perhaps some questions are best left to silence. Do I need something good to hang on to so badly that I’m willing to walk through a field of landmines just to pick a wildflower? Faith, I’m tired girl. It’s not worth it, let this go. Let her go and don’t get strangled by the dream that you’ll be satisfied with life if only you knew more about a woman who long ago cast off any semblance of human decency. Let it go.