Scene 4 popped into my head tonight as I was about to go downstairs for a smoke. And the rest just came out, and I put them in chronological order. So you’ll just have to suffer this blog-like indulgence. That’s the problem with stream of consciousness writing.
My father comes into the house, whistling. His face is beaming and with a hop in his step, he rushes up to me and announces it’s a glorious day for a motorcycle ride, do I want to go?
My mom is concerned and swears that he’d better drive extra cautious, like this time will be diferent.
My father gets the helmets. Nobody really asked me if I wanted to go, not really. I really hate going, because I know the only reason he wants me to go is because my little arms will have to hold onto him, and that gives him a thrill. A thrill right out in broad daylight, in public, and no one will know. He yells through the wind to hold on tighter, and I guess I must comply, because despite it being beautiful and freeing on a bike, it’s pretty scarey being on Hines Drive with it’s curves and all the unpredictable drunken people partying along its edges. My long hair is a tangled mess. Taking the helmet off always rips a handful out.
We get home, and he knows I know what his motivation is.
Daddy, I say, looking straight into his eyes, can we go see Annie? I really want to see Little Orphan Annie in Detroit.
Well, it’s really expensive honey, but we’ll-see-what-we-can-do.
Yeah, that’s right. You better…or no more motorcycle rides.
I don’t know what it is I can’t take, but I have to leave. I don’t even remember what the upset was, but I have to go. I have barracaded my door with my bed and my dresser, and my toychest is under the bedroom window, which I have opened and am trying desperately to climb out of. If I could only grab hold of the lilac bush…
But the dresser and bed are sliding and the door to my bedroom is opening, and just like the door always opens when I don’t want it to, there I am again, dreading what’s next, helpless. My dad pushes the furniture aside and my mom follows him in and asks me what I am crying about, and I sob because of course I don’t know and I can’t tell her.
I can’t tell her what it is to be manipulated and to manipulate at the age when you should be playing with dolls. I can’t tell her how it feels to be a living doll. I can’t tell her I’m afraid of everything and everybody and mostly of breaking her world apart. I can’t tell her I’m the other woman. I can’t tell her what it’s like to be an alien in this world. I can’t tell her because she is color blind and relationship blind and so sad about her life.
My dad moves the furniture back as if nothing happened. My mom tells me that after I’ve washed my face, dinner will be ready.
On the street corner, in front of my house.
New neighbor and her daughter come over to introduce themselves to my mom. I am what, ten years old? yet she gushes over me as if I were four years old. She starts stroking my hair. It’s so soft and silky and long and black. She talks slowly to me, to make sure I understand her words amid her squealing with delight. She just loves almond shaped eyes. She just always wished she had almond shaped eyes. I am stiff. I don’t say much in response. Her daughter Cara is bubbly and vivacious. She says, “yes, m’am!” like Opie does on the Andy Griffith Show, like she really enjoys sucking up. My mother is in love. I don’t say, “yes, m’am!”
My mom gives her a polished tumbled amethyst rock. Funny, she never gave ME one of her tumbled rocks. She chastises me, “Why do you have to be like that? Why can’t you be more like Cara?” Cara looks like Annie Wharbucks. I look like I-don’t-know-what. No, wait. I look like the Chinese sex bomb in Flower Drum Song. How the hell can I say, “yes, m’am!” cheerfully?
So I’m sitting at the park, near the baseball dugout, the one closest to my church, sneaking a cigarette, and my friend asks me about my birth mother.
“Do you think she was a prostitute or something?” (I can hear the hope in her voice – they all wished I was the illegitimate daughter of a lady of the night)
I shrug. “I dunno.”
“Do you ever want to meet her?”
“NO. Why would I want to do that?” I frown. “Families suck. Why would I want a second one?”
(incredulous) “But aren’t you even curious?”
“So what if I was, WHICH I’M NOT. We couldn’t talk anyway. Whoever the hell she is, she’s in KOREA. Like I know how to talk that! (I didn’t even know what it sounded like)
(silence…) “Oh. I forgot about that.” (long pause) “Wow.” (romantic jealousy emanates from my friend)
Same dugout, different time.
I’m making out with a boy, also from my church. It dawns on me that we are having the same conversation as Scene 4, only we’re not speaking the words. I suddenly feel like I am my mother. Why do I feel so dirty?
I finally realize it’s not really me he wants to be with, but the idea of my mother.
Small house party, Seattle. It’s the post grunge, emo era and Michael’s slightly talented artistic friend is playing Dinosaur Jr. adnauseum. His rich Korean American girlfriend walks in. She’s slender and perfect and should be a model for L’eggs pantyhose. She name-drops designers, while proudly wearing her alternative long-haired white boyfriend like a street smart badge of honor. She has it all. A broken nail is suffering for her.
Later, Michael off-handedly mentions to me how gorgeous she is. “What about me?” I jest.
“Oh, yeah. You’re made from good Korean peasant stock.”
Of course I am.
I’m just an orphan, probably daughter of a whore.
Somehow, my first mom doesn’t seem quite so vile now.
I’m sure she is/was a good person.
And being made from peasant stock is just fine, thank you.