Tuesday Morning: Be the Grownup

Previous

the-queen-the-knight-and-the-holy-child1

The five-thirty a.m. alarm clanged like hell’s bells in my ear. Chris groaned and moaned while I flailed for the “snooze” button. I’d gotten maybe four, five hours of sleep, and none of it good. I hated the day, hated my client, hated my very life for requiring me to wake up right this minute. But google had informed me that the bus to my first client, DeLorean Greystone, of all names, was going to require two transfers, and total two point two five hours. To get there by the promised 9:30am, including walk time, I had to catch the third bus by 8:37am, which meant I had to be at the second bus by 7:58am, and that meant I had to be on the first bus by 6:45am. But the first bus only came at 6:27 or 7:12am. So I had to catch the 6:27am. With an 8 minute walk time to the bus stop, that gave me one hour and nineteen minutes to wake up, stretch, shower, get ready, eat, and get my ass out the door. Not that much time, really.

Chris had another hour or more to sleep, which meant I had to make my way with as few lights as possible, and try to be quiet. I did my best, but I could hear him groaning and rolling over in a huff – he was almost as irritable a bear as I could be, when it came to interrupted sleep. I checked my phone and saw thousands of updates from overnight. Now I completely understood Trix’s stance on texts. I realized I needed to turn off the notifications, but not now. I was on a timeline, and I worked hard to stay focused and steady in my actions.

As I made for the door, Chris sat up in bed.

“Are you going?” he asked in a groggy voice.

“Well, yeah, I have a client,” I responded, a bit gruff.

“And..?”

“And then I’m going to Timeless for practice.”

He collapsed back on the bed.

:”Fine,” he mumbled, then a little louder, “Fine. If you want to go, just go.”‘

“Fine,” I replied, “That’s exactly what I was planning to do.”

As I reached for the door, he sat up again. His voice sounded a bit forlorn.

“But, you’re coming back. Tonight. You’re coming back.”

I couldn’t hold fast against this openness. I ran over, and gave him a huge hug and kiss.

“I’ll see you tonight,” I assured him.

“Okay,” he sighed, already drifting back to sleep.

I made it out the door with four minutes to spare. Gretel on my back felt like an old friend tagging along. I used the waiting time to listen to Trix n’ Traces again. I heard the music fresh from my practice sessions, from knowing many of the musicians personally. I began to feel my way in. With Gretel and my newfound sense of tentative solidarity, I realized that, somewhere in the night, I had decided: I was in. I was doing this show, whether I sucked or not. I would work hard. I would get better. I would show Chris that I wasn’t some sick person to be pitied. I was a performer, and I appreciated the attention.

My phone buzzed with a call – an actual call, at 7am? I looked to see who could possibly be so rude – surprise! My mom. I felt tempted not to answer, but I knew she’d just call back all day, so I should probably get it over with.

“Hello, Mom.”

She stuttered, like I’d messed up her line by acknowledging I knew it was her.

“Uh, Chrissy, so, happy birthday!”

“My birthday’s not til Friday, Mom.” I felt a little triumphant that she got it wrong – it confirmed my existing position on things.

“Of course, I know that. I mean, happy pre-birthday, then. You’re always so literal.”

“Sorry.”

“Yeah, so, I have a surprise for you. We’re here! In the city! So I can take you out for dinner…for your birthday!” Her strained-cheery words didn’t mask her fear I would refuse. It was well-founded fear.

“No.”

She didn’t answer. I felt a little bad. But only a little. I hadn’t heard enough to tell if this call was even sober, so I couldn’t really take it seriously. I needed to make sure I had her attention before she got any more of mine.

“I’m playing a show this week, Mom, and I don’t want any distractions.”

“I know! Ethan sent me the link on Facebook. I watched you practice yesterday – your style’s changed a lot since those shows after high school. You’re less like a little Jake, more like…”

I felt a bit creeped out thinking of my mother watching my practices, let alone friending my ex-boyfriend. On the other hand, this might have been the first interesting thing she’d said to me in years, so I wasn’t going to let her just trail off, unfinished.

“Like who?”

“Not who. More like, I don’t know, more like…well, like you, all grown up.”

“What does that mean, Mom?”

She laughed nervously.

“Nothing. I don’t know. Are you happy, Chrissy?”

Happy? Did she really want to know? I doubted it.

“I’m thrashing around like a fish out of water.”

“That’s always been when you’re happiest.”

I hated when she asked me questions but really just wanted an easy answer. I wasn’t surprised, so why did I get disappointed every time? We didn’t say anything for awhile.

“Can I come to your show? Maybe…”

“No, Mom.”

“I haven’t had a drink in eight months.”

“Congratulations. Again.”

“Come on, Chrissy, don’t be like that.”

“I’m a little short on energy to be handing it out willy nilly, Mom. I’ve got a lot of balls in the air right now. I can’t take care of all your emotional needs.”

“Harsh.”

“Yeah, well, be the grown up.”

“You, too, Christine. You’re twenty-five now. Be a grown-up. Come meet me, as a grown up. Maybe we might find something in common.”

This approach felt familiar.

“You’re in therapy.”

“Yes.”

“But you’re on the road. With…?”

“With Bill. Yes.”

“So, what good is it, Mom? You change everything but the thing that makes it hardest, and for what?”

“For love, Chrissy.”

“Yes, I know that’s your answer. But you’re choosy about where your love goes. Maybe more of it goes into yourself than anyone else.”

I cursed myself for saying that, when I had been so determined that I wouldn’t inflame anything in this conversation. I just couldn’t seem to let her off the hook. She sobbed on the other end.

“You’re very hard on me. I did my best. I do my best.” I could hear the snot in her throat. I pictured her splotchy wet cheeks, red-rimmed eyes, thick mucus hanging from her nose, and it kind of turned my stomach. I had some compassion, small and weak against the crowding disdain. We’d had this conversation so many times that I felt like I was trapped in a bad play.

Her bright voice bordered on shrill – she was forcing herself to be nice with me.

“We all have to make the choices in front of us, when they are in front of us, with what we have. Maybe I should have had more, I mean, I wish I had. Would I do the same things now? No, but now you’re all grown up and I don’t get to try again. So all I can do is ask you to…meet me as someone you…don’t already hate.” She choked on the last words.

“I don’t hate you, Mom.” My automatic response, with a sigh of impatience. How many times had she needed me to tell her that?

“Are you sure?”

Something about her inflection stopped me short. Did I hate her? This time, I paused to really check in. I found it hard to pick out any particular colour from the dense tangle of my emotions. From a distance, my feelings could be mistaken for a black yarn-ball, though close-up scrutiny revealed multi-faceted threadwork in all the colours of the rainbow. I rarely chose to look close up – it was too hard. I sighed. I didn’t need a magnifying glass to know that what I felt wasn’t hate.

“I love you, Mom. So that means it’s really hard for me to ride your roller-coaster with you. It makes me hurt. If I didn’t love you, it wouldn’t hurt, right? So the next best thing is to just make distance, you know? Ask you to keep your craziness away from me. Please.”

She hiccupped, and I heard her softly crying.

“Shhhh. Shhhh, Mom, take a deep breath, okay? Breathe with me.”

We breathed together for a minute. Finally, she seemed to rally.

“All I can do is just keep going, Chrissy, and take the days as they come. I want to see you for your birthday. We pull out Sunday so you don’t have to worry about me hanging around and bugging you. The coincidence is too perfect. Let me come.”

“I’ll leave your name at the door. I don’t want to see you there. Don’t come backstage. You can wait and I’ll come out when I’m ready, after things die down.”

“Thanks, Sweetie. Thank you.”

“Um, you’re welcome. I’m going to go now.”

“Okay, bye.”

I pushed the red button and held it down, so the phone hung up and turned off at the same time.

I arrived at the closest bus stop to 60204 Roslings Terrace Way at 8:57am. I worried I was too early, but I should have been worried I was too late – I hadn’t accounted for the half hour walk from the bus stop at the edge of Terrace Gardens and the actual address I sought. Each property held at least an acre, so walking from one number to the next took more time than one might have expected by urban standards. By the time I arrived at #60204, I was actually 2 minutes late, and sweating like a pig.

I rang the doorbell, angelic chimes answered by a woman in her fifties, wearing a black jogging suit.

“Yes?”

“Um, I’m here for…DeLorean? From…Your Kinda Music?”

“Huh? Miss DeeDee? You wait here.”

She closed the door in my face. I heard her voice shout, and a younger voice command, and the door opened again. I heard the last of the older woman’s mumbled irritation, which I was sure was not meant for my ears. I entered a lobby three times the size of my apartment, marble and other expensive materials I didn’t even know enough to name surrounded me on all sides. This lobby sent an unmistakably clear message of wealth and top-of-the-linedness, a determination to always BE the Joneses, and a demonstration of the means to do so.

“This way,” beckoned the woman, leading me down a hallway into a gorgeous music room. This room had clear soundproofing, a grand piano, a full drum set, five electric guitars, mics, a full set of sound equipment – they were ready to record! I wondered if the dad wasn’t some kind of musician or something, with the room so fully decked out. Yet I felt something sad and lonely about it, as though all this equipment sat, unused and unloved, day after day.

NEXT

Leave A Comment...

*