Just recently I entered into an on line conversation about a contemporary issue with a complete stranger. I did this on my own volition.
I championed ethics, precedent, and a need for civility in how we dialog as a society. The stranger I willingly approached proceeded to visit my profile make inference about my person from some quickly gathered facts. He was even charitable enough to give me a “pass” because of the neighborhood I grew up in and where I attended High School. Education is drastically lacking in East Los Angeles in his estimate. I found all this mildly ironic and decided to exercise my Troll-Policy and cease to engage the person.
What dawned on me is the lack of discipline to argue arguments on their merit. It also emboldened me with quixotic sense of purpose to not devolve to personal attacks when I engage others. It is a personal policy…feel free to disagree.
I have heard and seen my mom cry many a times in the last 40 years. I’ve been responsible for some of her tears.
This past weekend she broke down long-distance on the phone but her sobs were much different from those I’ve witnessed…but still recognized. From a file buried deep in my memory bank I recalled a moment of sadness of hers from over 30 years ago. Late one night I awoke and heard some rustling near my bed. We hadn’t had power for days and I had come accustomed to the darkness so I spotted her faint silhouette quickly. There in her cot she cried. It was silent but distinct and I got the feeling that if my sisters were not sleeping nearby it would have been much much louder.
Last Sunday on the phone this woman I’ve known all my life tried her hardest not to crack but couldn’t help herself. Her Mexico house has intermittent power, my grandmother (who she’s caring after) had a hard fall, she got some odd news from a doctor, there’s no water readily available to her neighborhood and a boy up the street from her died when a light-pole fell. The weight of all this is resting heavy on her shoulders and she had to reach out somehow.
It was hard to hear her. Harder to know that all I could do was just listen and give her what little reassurances I could. I feel like I did that night when I was a kid…not able to help my mom when she needs me most.
No one ever truly gave us a road map.
We’ve borrowed bits and pieces from others but a lot of it we’ve figured out on our own. I suppose we are and continue to me an amalgamation of all the texts, those late late night calls early on, some shouting matches, tears, the comfortable silences, the hand holding in the car on long drives, the quick pecks before jetting off to work, the longing kisses in the warm Florida rain, the times we’ve played telephone with the kids and all those hearty laughs.
That’s the path we’ve paved for ourselves indeed and still we know there’s many miles left to go before we forever fall asleep.
Pulling rank isn’t something we like to do here at Casa Torres.
All members of the clan (including dogs) are encouraged utilize the home’s amenities at their leisure or need.
With that said, there are regular times in the morning when dad has been up a while, he’s been walking about doing morning chores, he’s had second cup coffee and may find himself in need to use the privy.
At those times, that parent reserves the right to commandeer the bathroom over the objection of a yawning and lumbering 6th Grader.
We had a pretty bad argument today as best of friends sometimes do. It involved these two ruffians tearing apart a wax paper square that once held my bagel. There was glaring, yelling and general admonishments.
We seem to be past it now.
While at the kitchen table working on her division homework my youngest paid no mind to the television broadcast on. TV is usually not on during this time at home but I figured that it was old news and she usually tunes them out. Her eye caught the loud and shocking explosion and I noticed that she put her pencil down for a moment and was transfixed on the screen. Then she snapped hear head my way and asked if what she was watching was real and if it was happening “right now.” Her brother, who had been emptying the dishwasher, quickly blurted out to her that what I was watching was 9/11 and not to worry. I paused the re-broadcast and rallied them by my side to talk for a few minutes about that day and what life was like after. When the discussion was done they went about their afternoon and I was proud that I’d assuaged fears.
Later in the eve after a round of riotous tickling had stopped and they were settling into bed, my youngest still breathing heavy, asked me if I was sure mom’s flight back home later in the week would be okay. Before I could answer my son blurted to her to not worry because “mommy always comes back safe.” I nodded to her in agreement, kissed them good-night and flicked off their lights.
I then stood outside their bedroom in the darkness…speechless.
Hugo Fun Fact 666: Clowns that don’t smile. Toilets that don’t flush at Open Houses. My children hovering over me when I awake from a nap. Uncorking a radiator cap from an overheating car. A rattle coming from an unknown source on a hike. Looking over the side of a tall bridge. A malfunctioning ATM card at the Grocery Store. Loosing line of sight of my youngest at the mall during the Holiday season. Not knowing where my phone is the morning after I’ve had too much wine. A near empty gas can on a long stretch of highway in Central CA late at night. Finding an odd bump on my person. Closed door meetings in the office. Earthquake weather. Clowns that smile.
My mother never asked my sisters and I if we wanted to come to the United States. This land was thrust upon us and yet we love it. We learned its language, we merged our norms into its culture, we are raising families and we naturalized.
Our story is not unique…I would venture to say it
“Got it” his yelp trailed off as the passenger side door closed shut behind him. I sat there a moment watching him walk away and thinking that my own father would not have let me get away with that flip of a good-bye.
My parents were different though and each morning at drop off or each night at bedtime we had to tell our parents we loved them whether we felt like it or not. I recall countless times when I kissed my dad on the forehead before going to bed while seething inside about his latest trespass I had perceived. I recoiled when my mother demanded that I give her a good-bye hug the morning after she had told me she wasn’t going to pay for brand name sneakers. I didn’t care for those moments. Now here I was, limp in my seat questioning whether I should demand the “I love you too” I feel I have earned. The light honk behind snapped me out my pity party and I drove away from the Middle School.
A cup of freshly brewed coffee waited for me at home…it would certainly perk my spirits.