Mom’s finally had enough. They are separated but he still comes over drunk every night to bang on every door of the house, no matter how late it gets or who has to be to school/work in the morning. However, this time is different because he punches the glass door in. The police take him to jail but no worries, Mom has a back-up man, ready to take his place.
Men are so damn worthless that you can replace them at the snap of a finger. Just be slightly attractive. No, scratch that—be available.
She leaves her planner at home sometimes. She uses it as a diary to document her escapades. “Fun night with Richard, left panties in the backseat. Went to Richard’s office, had sex.” Richard, the married lawyer. Sigh. But there’s hope for me it seems. My dad is suddenly taking interest in my life. I’m playing soccer and softball and he actually wants to see me play. On one of the rare weekends that I am at his home, I hear a woman’s voice. Is that…my mother? It is. They tell me they are working on getting back together and have planned a trip to Vegas. But they don’t end up going because PLOT TWIST: she goes to on vacation with Tony in South Carolina. My dad backs away from me again.
Why do I try to trust those that never have loved me.
Tony is an old man with grey hair, can, and smokes in the car when they sit outside in the driveway. He passes it to her. Since when does she smoke? She takes my sister and I to his house in the middle of the hood. When we return she tells us to pack our bags because we are going to stay there for awhile. Oh goodness, how will I ever pick a book from my beloved collection to take for “awhile”. She says don’t worry, we’ll be back. Reluctantly, we pack a few things and leave. We never return and I never see my things again. On Tony’s street, women push their children in grocery carts down the street. This can’t be my new home.
I will never settle down. I will always be a bag lady, at home but home-less. I’m so tired.
What I thought were cigarettes turns out to be weed. Tony says he smokes it everyday because of his back problems from his military in the service. He has a lot of grown children that live outside of the home and says that I have too many opinions. It’s not a surprise as all of her other men say the same thing. His mama, Ms. Ruth lives a few houses down. She feeds me when they forget to, which often happens. She tells me I’m smart and she likes having me around. She makes me banana milkshakes and allows me to watch the neighborhood through binoculars on her enclosed front porch. She’s the only adult that is looking out for me.
I want to believe in humanity, please let me just believe in humanity.
My mom’s Lupus flares to the point where she can no longer work as a nurse. She becomes even more depressed and volatile. Fortunately she sees a therapist who prescribes medicine which she rarely takes. She doesn’t say it but I’m sure she was told that she is bipolar. It makes sense, all of her direct relatives (with the exception of her father, Papa) are afflicted with some sort of mental illness. Her team of doctors tell her that she needs to be on the liver transplant list. I know this is the beginning of the end. I am twelve years old. My father still skips most of his weekends because he has “things to do, places to see, and people to meet” as he often tells me on the phone. What does he care that I eat infrequently, bathe my mother after I walk home from school, and hope the lights stay on this time?
I must fend for myself. You thought you were taking care of yourself at ten? Well, it’s time to really step up to the plate. You can’t fail.
At some point, they get engaged and Tony promises to build us a house in South Carolina. That never happens and their relationship devolves like the rest of them into a chaotic, volatile mess. I am forced to escape to my oldest sister’s new apartment with our puppy, Emperor. I never get to say goodbye to Ms. Ruth. Several years later, I hear she is very sick. I don’t pray but I send positive energy her way and if she is to die, I send comfort. Thank you Ms. Ruth. I will forever be thankful for the year you kept me alive. Mom says she’s going to move to start over. Just me and her. No more drama, she promises. We move into the same apartment complex as my sister and for a couple weeks everything feels alright. She’s still winding down her relationship with Tony and we don’t have a car but who cares, it’s just us girls starting fresh. She even adopts another dog, Xsu Xsa to make it feel more like home. Several weeks after they officially break up, I walk into my Mom’s room to find a man, Jay in her bed. Shocked, I run across the parking lot to my sister’s apartment and cry for the new life that has once again been destroyed by a man. Mom calls and chastises me for opening her door even though she is the one who told me to after I knocked. She says, I need to grow up and stay outta grown folks’ business.
I really hate her now and every man that walks the face of the Earth. If men would just fall off the face of the planet, I’m sure I would live a happy existence. I will never be so desperate for a man that I chase after them.
Their relationship runs its course and several days late, she tells me about Bill, an old white entrepreneur who finds her blackness “exotic.” He promises he’ll move us to one of his houses in Florida. He only visits in the evening. I begin to wonder if she does things with him for money. They don’t seem to have much in common. Not to fret, he is just a passing craze as she’s already lined up Fletcher, a journalist at a local newspaper. They go on dinner cruises, shop, and whatever else she decides to spend his money on. She doesn’t find him attractive but he will do. To supplement her fun, she simultaneously dates a retired police officer, Reggie. These men care nothing about me, they enjoy whatever time they spend with her and then they are out. As Lupus is chronic, she is extremely ill off and on. They never visit when she’s “on”. They leave me to take care of her.
A man will never be worth my time, they pick you up, take you to dinner, whisper a few sweet words, give you some money, and when the clock strikes 3AM, they drop you off. If you need or want any more than that, you better go to your nearest animal shelter because surely an animal can provide more.
Just when I don’t things can get any worse, in comes “Matthew”. She interrupts our Lights Before Christmas walk to talk to him on the phone. She pretends that we always spend a lot of time together. Clearly she’s only thinking of the days she vomits, spontaneously bleeds, sleeps, and watches Judge Judy. But who’s counting? After she gets off the phone with him she tells me that Matthew is a an attractive electrician who has lived all over the place and she really likes him and blah blah blah. She says he’s going to pay a visit. Of course “a visit” means a sleepover. That night I hear them having a heated argument. He threatens to kill her amongst other things. Her relationships usually spiral out of control but never this quickly.
I know we are in grave trouble Mom won’t listen to me. My oldest sister is the only one who will. She promises she will look after me even though she is a broke college student. She’s the only person I am confident loves me unconditionally and will protect me.
If you enjoyed this post, please read Mom’s Lessons in Love No. 1.