Friday, January 18, 2008

Happy Birthday

Little known Petunia Face fact: Who is the only person I have ever had to censor off my comment board? Answer: my mother. Don't ask why. It was very questionable content. Here is the little minx herself, I'm guessing around age 8.
My mom is a study in contrasts. A Southern belle without an accent, a nurse who had she been born in another time and place would have been a doctor, a surgeon. She is a beautiful woman, a fag hag, Mrs. Magoo in a world of sheer cliffs, The Strong Lady at the circus. When I was in the 4th grade my homework was to list other states aside from the United States. My mother made me write the state of ecstasty, the state of despair, a sudden state of panic. She does not drive, has not since I was very young. Her world is small but her imagination is limitless. She stays up until 5 in the morning reading then sleeps until 2pm. She was and is an eccentric, a maximalist in a world of minimalists. All of my childhood she walked around the house naked, her butt emblazoned with a tattoo of a tropical island. When I was 12 and complained because my perfect friend Lisa was sleeping over my mother obliged my request for normalcy and covered herself with a retro June Cleaver see-through apron tied loosely around her naked hips, the palm tree on the tropical island warmed by the sun. I never could tell if Perfect Lisa was laughing or crying. I know which one I was doing.
My mother is a young Ruth Gordan, a working woman's Auntie Mame. Courageous and generous to a fault, although I have often mistaken her eccentricities as selfish, as weak. When Zoey was born my mother told me that now I would finally understand just how very much she loves me. And part of me does but the other part just cannot believe it, this all-consuming appetite I have for my daughter. Has my mom wanted to devour me all along as I do Zoey? Has she really stared at me sleeping? Cupped my cheek in her hand and cried?
In a story befitting Faulkner, my mother's own mother left when my mother was 5. If that sentence is too hard to follow just know this: my mother did not have a mother of her own. So what I would like to tell my mom is this: Yes, I finally do understand just how very much you love me. But because you didn't get to have a mother growing up, don't get to have one now, as an adult, you will never understand just how very much I love you. How as a daughter looking at her mother I don't think I will ever understand you, how I catch myself sometimes, the way my voice sounds singing a certain song maybe, how I am you. How I have hated you, loved you to distraction, feared turning into you, how absolutely honored I would be to be you. So my birthday present to you is this: comment. I will not censor you. Dear Reader, get ready. Happy Birthday Mom.

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