“But! Everything that HAS been — has not been forsaken
Oh, I have kissed everyone: From paupers, to the kings.”
When motha breaks shit down — she destroys it. “Half-assed” — is never her way.
And it is also brutal: Our love for each other. Unmistakably human. Faltered and stubbornly redemptive. This love — has been three decades in the making: Some screwball tragicomedy that not even I, in my sickest mind, can think up.
(Yes, I may be young to some. To others, who have witnessed my Americanized Tinker Bell version, I may appear full of hysterical delight. I AM — all that. As you wish. But I am also a faithful lover of the human race; and for that, for years, I have been willing to risk my heart. And yes, I have seen some shit, loves; and I have seen love — go to shit. Still: I have withstood it all. And if you tell me it does not take a sick mind to keep coming back for more, then you and I just happened to speak two unrelated languages.)
Motha descended upon this town yesterday, on a witch’s broom, by her own admission. She was late upon arrival (not typical to her chronically anxious character); but when she finally came down — she crashed. Noise, voice, hair — it’s all so loud with her! And when I first embraced her, I did NOT wonder how this tiny woman, standing two heads shorter than me, could contain so much life.
“Jesus,” I thought. “No wonder!”
She stepped off her broom, fixed her hair (to no avail); and as we walked home (I, sturdily in my flats, in control; she — all woman, chasse-ing in heels), we both unleashed our unwritten stories, the gypsy descendants that we were. Flipping our disobedient manes to the wind, we took turns making each other laugh. Motha laughs easily, readily; but I’m the only one to get her going at her own expense. I, on the other hand, am much more reserved. In my other parent’s ways, I chuckle, if that. But then again, this messy and magnificent woman knows how to get me out of control; and so I become like daughter like mother.
Immediately, I suspected: It would be different with us, this time. Normally, motha doesn’t take a “nyet” for an answer. She doesn’t give a flying fuck about my “boundaries” or my Americanized need “for personal space”. Her life’s is too short of a privilege to miss out on encounters. “Half-assed” — is just NOT her way. But when she heard of her daughter’s two week ailment, she fucking imposed! She invaded! She came — to heal and to care — a maternal duty that has never been demanded from her by her self-sufficient child.
The medicinal witchcraft was whipped out as soon as I shut the door to my home.
“These eez forr you! And these — eez forr you!”
“Jesus,” I thought. “No wonder she showed up with a suitcase!”
(I’ve learned to never expect things from our love; and perhaps, that’s all for the better: In the end, it has taught me how to love and to let go. It has taught me — how to withstand.)
Motha’s invasion carried us to the shore. We attempted to bask in the sun, but mostly we froze in the late afternoon breeze. She has called up someone with a yacht in the Marina.
“Jesus,” I thought. “No wonder she’s got more connects in this bloody town!”
And there would be many more: Random people I have never seen before, coming out of the woodwork. In every neighborhood where I chose to take a break (to catch my breath and drink up a doze of reality), they would deliver advice and meds, but most importantly — my returning hope for humanity, in dozes. Before I knew it, matchmaking was happening, via the service of a handsome woman with a magnificent ass. Someone was handing me a free cup of tea of dandelion root. At a Ukrainian deli, where motha has finagled for me to use a bathroom, lipsticked mouths of old women were hollering at their grumpy butcher in the back:
“Let our girl pass! Let our girl pass!”
A woman cashier with the face of compassion looked at me and said:
“Put that weight down, youth. You’re carrying too much.”
Oh, I have never seen this city like this, loves! I’ve learned not to expect much compassion from strangers. But last night, the city was different: It — was teaching me to withstand.
In the evening, there would be more tales and more witchcraft. Motha whipped out her gypsy songs, then YouTubed a bearded bard to accompany her dance:
“When love, tender by its habit, gets tired to please this mortal coil with hope,
I’ll bring the rest of my bloody life up to a burning match!
Because it is better to get burnt by love — then to run from it.”
“Happy song! Happy song!” — motha insisted while sitting on my floor and shimmying her shoulders (a gypsy dance move apparently).
Eventually, there would be food, too much of it, just the way we, Russians, always insist. There would be some strange sparkling wine, bitter and spicy like ginger, and immediately intoxicating. Ancestors’ recipes were followed. Instructions were being recycled. Words, voices, stories, anecdotes — it’s all so loud with us. (When I offered some soaking salts for motha’s bath, “Vhy?!” she said. “Just poot zem in yourr soup!”)
And when it all subsided and each woman lay down in her own bed, lullabies of forgiveness covered everything with their white noise. As the week-long insomnia surrendered to what would be my first night of 10-hour dreamless sleep, I heard the bard’s voice and my mother’s breathing, ever so loud:
“And for the gift of our encounter,
I am ready to forgive my fate for everything.
So, here it is: The wonderful happening
That gives meaning to an empty word ‘to live’!”
Had I not forgiven my every love, I would’ve missed out on too many stories worthy of my hope, I thought. I would have discounted too many faces, dismissed too many loves. But haven’t you heard, loves? “Half-assed” — is just not MY way! Because to withstand it all — and come out on the other end, still willing to love — in my motha’s fashion, I’d rather go all in.