My mother has come and gone, leaving me as wiped out as a Gelfling drained of its essence. Perhaps my attempts to drag her all over the city to wear her out—an effort that proved near impossible with her stamina—did me in, instead.
Visiting the Fashion Institute of Technology museum, strolling the waterfront near the World Financial Center, checking out a street fair on the Upper West Side, and attending Vespers at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, all in the span of four days, would exhaust anyone.
The truth is, we hadn’t seen each other in four years. That’s a lot of time to make up for. This could be why she followed me from kitchen to living room and back to kitchen, simply content to watch me play with the Beast or make dinner or enjoy a baseball game on TV. No matter how well intentioned and enjoyable, all that togetherness can be quite taxing. Not to mention how tiring it is to keep in check the mother-daughter detritus that naturally bubbles to the surface.
Or maybe I’m spent from all the talking.
For as different as my mom and I are—she thinks Leno is funny, I’m a Colbert girl—I learned we are exactly alike in two distinct ways: 1) we can’t fall asleep if our feet are cold, and 2) we talk. Constantly. We each have our own running external commentary on our lives. I’ll announce, “I have to blow my nose” to no one in particular, she’ll relay the news crawl at the bottom of the television screen. I end every statement with, “’kay?” She reads out billboards. And we both come with a soundtrack that signals our rising up and sitting down, “Ooomph!” We don’t just breathe, we intonate our inhalations and exhalations. Know what else I learned? It’s really f***ing annoying! Between her randomly reciting the names of stores on the street and me commenting on the eyelash stuck in my eye, I readily welcomed the jackhammers outside my window that drowned out the playback of our nearly identical sounding voices in my head as I tried to fall asleep.
“I’m thinking of taking a vow of silence,” I told the Hubs hours after she left, “though I’m not sure how long I can keep it up.”
Ever supportive, he replied, “At least do it when I’m around to enjoy it.”
Mom’s trip was not without one memorable incident:
“Do you know how surreal it is,” I recollected with the Hubs, “to wake up and realize your mother is in the bathroom while your husband is taking a shower . . . in the same bathroom?”
He replied, “Do you know how surreal it is to BE taking a shower while your mother is going to the bathroom in the same bathroom?”
Yes, you read that right: this was how my mother began her visit, the morning after she arrived. Failing to recall, or completely ignoring, Rule #1 (“I’m a writer, you’re fair game”), she barged her way into our only bathroom, even after the Hubs said, “Gimme two minutes to finish my shower.” The Beast, hearing a new voice and forgetting we had company, awoke from a deep sleep to let out an equally deep bark and I bound out of bed to hush him.
We neared the bathroom, my eyes blurry and my senses still half-asleep, and I heard the shower running and my mother talking to Hubs.
“Are you both in there?” I nervously called out to the partially closed door.
“I had to go,” my mother sang back, before I heard a toilet flush.
Trying to process the absurdity of the moment—tough to do at any time of day, let alone six-thirty in the morning—I paused then said, “I’m going back to bed and hopefully forget this ever happened.” I never made it. I stayed up, figuring I owed the Hubs a decent breakfast for his pains—after all, he would surely need another ten minutes in the shower to scrub the episode from his brain. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Husband of the Year.
Of the three of us, only two were stunned by what had happened. I told Mom she shouldn’t feel embarrassed.
“I don’t,” she said, matter-of-factly.
“But you should.”
Perhaps my mother thinks being humble is beneath her.
She wasn’t the only one to have had an embarrassing moment that weekend—though, I’m proud to note, I was rightfully mortified by my mishap—but that’s for another post. I need to catch up on some much needed sleep and get back to normal.
Oh, and for those who may be wondering: Whether or not I had a mustache, Mom didn’t say.
Before I go, I wanted to give you an update on my graphic comic story: If you’re in New York City this week, come to Comic-Con at the Jacob Javitz Center this Friday and stop by booth #2547 anytime from noon to 2pm. Leigh Walls and I will be signing copies of “The Gathering, Vol. 4,” which features our piece, The End of an Afternoon’s Street-Fighting. You can meet us and the rest of the GrayHaven gang, hear about upcoming projects, and maybe even get some souvenirs to take home with you. Hope to see you there!