Distances of Various Kinds

April 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve upset my mom. I could hear it over the phone, the way her voice would tremble into an almost hysterical high note before being quickly swallowed, quite valiantly in my opinion, into something closer to her normal tone.

But what else was I supposed to say? She kept asking me, like every time before, why I never call, never return any of her messages (voicemail, text, e-mail, letters). I couldn’t simply say, “Because I don’t trust you.” God, it sounds awful even to me. She doesn’t deserve it, considering, lord, just everything she’s done for me. But yet the feeling is there, not so much a distrust as just a general lack of it.

This time, she was telling me that every time I decide to change my life course I need to tell her and my dad. I recently switched from premed to psych/ILVS and neglected to tell them, though at this point it’s really only selecting different courses for this fall than I originally planned. Not really a big deal yet so I thought the conversation could wait till summer when I could talk with my parents in person instead of facelessly over the phone. Well, maybe not my dad since he’s always gone but she was telling me to tell her at the very least. That I need to let them know and talk it over with them and listen to their advice, yadda yadda ya.

And here I am, lying on my bed with my phone lazily pressed to my ear, thinking how I can’t seem to communicate with them, how do they expect me to tell them of anything when I go mostly unheard in the family, preached to/scolded/guilt-tripped rather than listened to, how everyone seems to have difficulty, myself included, in just reaching out to each other, how our connections to each other have grown so thin and tenuous and cold that I feel I could snap it so easily and drift away without a single bite of pain, and then I suddenly just say into the static silence,

“We really aren’t close at all, are we?”

There’s a pause, enough for me to think oh shit.

And then she says (and look, there’s that note, her voice is rising), “What do you mean?”

And I try to explain but I know I’m butchering it, botching it up, and I just want to drop the fucking conversation. But I can’t, that’s just how I am, I blunder on because I want to make her understand, believing I can fix it, fix everything (but not that, that can’t be fixed, it’s too late).

“It’s hard to talk to you.” We don’t mention my dad; we both understand that nothing can reach him.

“What do you mean? Just because we’re not the average, overly-enthusing American parents that say, ‘Oh look we’re so proud of you!’ over every little thing and give you hugs all the time?”

“I’m not making comparisons, I’m just saying how I feel, how things seem to me.” (But a hug every so often would have been nice; it’s too late now, hugs are too awkward in this family.)

“Oh really? You’re always sleeping when you’re here!”

“But that’s because I’m tired.” (Don’t say it’s because my dreams are preferable.)

“I know that but you’re sleeping all day! Surely that’s enough. Wake up at a reasonable hour and we’ll ‘talk’ all you want. Come on, let’s have ‘conversations’ this summer.”

I despair. That’s not how it works. I don’t respond.

And then she starts to preach at me, her voice wavering higher and higher, (is preaching her defense mechanism or something? It’s so fucking annoying, I hate being preached to, STOP PREACHING AT ME)

How could you say that? After all we’re doing for you? How many parents let their child do whatever they want? How many parents let their child do as they please with their money? We don’t keep tabs on you, we don’t check your money usage, how could you say that? How dare you pick out all the flaws and take for granted all the good things. Are you saying we don’t love you? That we don’t care about you? How could you say that?

No, that’s not what I’m saying at all, stop putting words in my mouth, why can’t you understand, it’s not always about money or material freedom, listen to me, oh I give up, this is precisely why I don’t– can’t talk with you, with any of you, I’m not picking out good or bad things I’m just trying to point how I feel things are, how I feel that it’s too late to change anything, what are you saying, of course I’m cold too, what do you expect when I don’t think there’s a connection to follow up on, don’t know you, grow up feeling more comfortable spilling my guts to teachers, friends, psychologists more than I do to you?

I cut it off with the best excuse I can think of. “I have homework to do so I’m going to hang up soon.” Bullshit.

A pause, then, “Fine. Remember to let me know this week when you’re flying back so I can buy the tickets before they rise up in price.” Her voice is sighing as she speaks.

“Right.” Click.

And I just lie there on my bed, the expected tears spilling over. There’s only a few though and they dry quickly.

I wipe my eyes once before sitting up and smiling at my friend sprawled on my pink carpet. “Sorry about that. Ready to go?” She doesn’t understand Japanese, which means my mom and I could have been talking about the weather for all she knew.

“Don’t worry about it. Ready to go when you are.” She gathers herself, grabs her purse, and stands up. I quickly riffle through my closet before abandoning the jacket idea, it’s a balmy 65 tonight, and swing my bag over my shoulder.

I pull the door shut with a resounding thud.


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