Tues Oct. 31st—Halloween
Yesterday I forgot Jen had Writers’ Club and would be at the school at 4. I didn’t get home until 6 and it was 6:30 before I found her—still at the school—crying. I felt so guilty and sad and hurt for her and mad at me and despairing over my mind. . .
I want to stay home tomorrow and read my book—no more pressures, expectations or pain.
I remember that day. One of the few days from this whole period of time that I remember well. I didn’t remember that it was Writer’s Club that kept me after school, but I remember waiting to get picked up. When I realized she wasn’t in the parking lot, I walked around to the street to watch for her car. Other cars came and went. The sun was hot, but the weather was pretty fair. I walked around on the grass. I sat. I stood and shook out my legs.
A car stopped and some other student’s mother offered to give me a ride. I thanked her but said no, my Mom was on her way. That was at about 4:30.
The sun started to creep toward the mountains. The temperature dropped, as it does in Colorado once the sun weakens. I wasn’t dressed for hanging around outside at night; I would get far too cold. My throat swelled up and my eyes started to leak.
One of my teachers saw me as he walked from the outbuilding to his car. He offered to drive me home, too, or call someone, or bring me something to eat. I thanked him but said “no.” I said that she’d figure it out, that she had forgotten me, and she’d race here first before checking messages or anything, so the best thing to do was wait. That was probably after 5 o’clock.
I thought about walking home, but I had just made that walk a few months ago, and it had taken me 5.5 hours and I was severely dehydrated. It’s farther than it looks—about 10 miles as the crow flies, but more than 20 by road. In reality, I was 4 or 5 miles closer to my house than I had been that other day, but I didn’t know it.
I sat down, pulling my extremities close to conserve body heat. The sun was settling in behind the mountains. I don’t even remember if I watched the sunset, but I probably did in order to distract myself.
To keep myself from wondering if she’d tried to kill herself again.
Maybe no one was coming for me. Maybe she’d succeeded this time, and no one would realize what was wrong until tomorrow morning. I’d be here all night, then. There are no taxis, no convenience stores. There are houses not too far away. I could knock on doors until someone could let me use the phone, but I didn’t know my sister’s number, only my mom’s. I don’t think I even knew my soon-to-be-boyfriend’s phone number by heart back then.
And if my mom hadn’t tried to kill herself again, and had just forgotten me, what was that about? Does she *ever* think of me? She didn’t when she ran off, that’s for sure. And she didn’t when she laid around the house for days on end, not going to work. It was always so hard to get her attention, even when she was awake, and it was nearly impossible to wake her up if she was sleeping. What if she’d gone home and taken a nap? I wouldn’t see her until tomorrow then, either.
Perhaps it was time to trek those 10 miles again.
I was taking my time deciding, wondering if I could make it through the pastures in the dark, or if I would tick off the bulls by trying, when I saw her car. I ran out to her.
When I opened the passenger door, all I could smell was KFC. Mom had stopped on her way to get me. As much as I recognize the gesture now, at that point, I wished she would have skipped the KFC or waited until she got me. That was 10-20 minutes of waiting and feeling abandoned that she could have spared me.
She apologized, but in a way that said that it wasn’t her fault. So it was never a real apology.
Unfortunately, this episode wasn’t the last time she forgot me. It definitely etched itself into my mind. Whenever someone is supposed to pick me up, but is really late, I am 15 years old again, stuck, abandoned, wondering if anyone will notice I’m stranded and alone. Now, I start walking home after about a half an hour of waiting. But I still cry.
It’s silly, because now that I’m older and can afford to call myself a cab, I still cry. I hate that feeling of abandonment. I hate it. And I felt it so acutely my whole life. I’m happy to be alone, but extremely unhappy to be forgotten. Perhaps that’s why I developed a wild personality—so people wouldn’t forget me, or couldn’t forget me.
But if your own mother can forget you, so can everyone else.
Mom, I don’t want to seem overly harsh, but that was coming just 6 months after you really abandoned me with your suicide attempt. I did not make a lot of trouble for you, contrary to your beliefs. I was almost self-sufficient and about 8 months away from my driver’s license, which was when I became completely self-sufficient. But when I needed a mother, you failed. Over and over again.
I know you know you failed, since you asked me if you were a bad mother last year. I told you no. I know you tried. You didn’t intentionally forget me. But you also didn’t consider me. I was a burden to you. Over and over again, in your diaries (and I know I felt it in real life), I was a drag to you. Do you know Dad told us that it was our fault you tried to kill yourself? Yep. And I walked around with that.
For twenty years, if I didn’t hear from you, or if you were late, I wouldn’t know if you’d finally offed yourself for real this time or not. I lived with this fear of suicide over my head. That part was relieved when you passed, because you couldn’t do that to me anymore. It sounds terrible, I know, but it hurt, Mom. It hurt every day. You can’t undo trying to kill yourself.
You complained more than once that no one ever forgave you for what you had done. But the truth is, you never stopped doing it. Every day you died a little death. You chose to hide instead of confronting your fears. You chose to lose yourself in things instead of thinking about your family.
That day became a poster of every day. You were hardly present; either sleeping or just not around. And I was perpetually abandoned. Not just once, not just that one time you forgot me, but every day.
I know you tried.
I tried, too. And we survived it. We are haunted by these moments that seem to sum up our life experiences. You, as the little brown girl. Me, as the girl pacing in the grass of her high school, waiting for her mother who never seems to arrive.