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the emperor

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Dec. 18th, 2007 | 10:20 pm
location: 58
music: commanding, setting direction, creating order from the chaos
posted by: brickred in pagesofcups

an awkward phone call with my mother: has anyone told my aunt that nobody's coming for christmas? does anyone think there's something wrong with this? do you realize the repercussions when on christmas day, I travel alone to be in the place we have always celebrated, my entire life? how I will leave behind my sister and brother, who inevitably will want to see their cousins, who will want to come with me -- who I will want to bring along -- but cannot?

to this my mother replies, "luckily, I still get to make their decisions for them." this drives an icy wedge between us.

on the opposite end of things, I begin to hear from members of my family as though I am an individual rather than the member of a unit; rather than my mother's daughter. my aunt peggy emails: 'sorry we will miss you on christmas; congratulations on finishing the marathon.' my cousin, through myspace: 'beth, amy, and I want to hang out with you over christmas -- you know, go letterboxing, or get drinks, or paint the town red. call us.' my oldest cousin (the one who, when I was five, locked me in a basement closet) calls and invites me to run a race with him, says he would love to show me his new house, & the renovations. cards from my aunt -- the estranged one -- contain $20s and thanksgiving trivia (complete with a separate answer sheet); I can feel her reach out and I reach back across the miles. I imagine myself a shoelace, and each of them a loop: threading in and out, a long sinuous expanse, becoming the common bond. recreating the things that tie us, if I am not the thing myself.

I feel like one small unsure voice among this ocean.

how can it be that it's I who is the most equipped to understand the consequences of my family's actions and inactions? and yet over and over I can't escape the clarity of it, the way everything spreads in front of me, domino-like. how they frustrate me! does anyone but my mother know that I am in the singular position of knowing how it is on the other end of 25 years? does she even know? that meeting one's estranged family after 25 years is full of gratitude, and despair: gratitude at being given the future with these people, and despair for having forever lost the past? what I want to say so clearly, as clearly as a bell that rings deep into your bones: one day, years from now, when you regret this decision, you will never be able to go back and undo it.

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