I’m trying to get my thoughts together about my daughter’s visit, without crying about the fact that she’s gone. It was just so incredible having her (and her friend) here. For six blissful days, the house was full of life, laughter and girliness. For six days, Tom hid out, half out of courtesy, half in self-defense from the elevated hormone levels in the house.
For six days, I got to be a mom. I got to hear stories of teenager-ism. I got to see them in action. It was fantastic.
My daughter and her friend are nocturnal creatures. They also apparently require about ten hours of sleep a night, so the only way to see them was to stay up into the wee hours, then snooze much of the day away. I was sleep deprived and ecstatically happy the entire week. When I couldn’t stand it anymore, I brought them coffee and nudged them out of their comas, and they’d begin the day at about 2:00 p.m.
The girl child is 5’2″ and weighs in at about 104 pounds. She resembles a tiny little anime character, or a little punk fairy. What she lacks in size, she makes up for in attitude, but beneath the bleached hair, the kohl eyeliner and facial piercings, hides an incredibly sweet, gentle soul. A few times, she’d come and sit on my lap just to snuggle and talk. We needed that desperately. She no longer lives with me, because she prefers the Arkansas town that was slowly suffocating me to the big Ohio city (Columbus) that was terrifying her. I don’t blame her. Her father and brother and all of her childhood friends live there, and although I was a fish out of water during my
prison term years there, it’s still her shimmering pond.
So we live apart. We talk several times a week, but it’s not the same. I can’t see her smile via telephone. I can’t take care of her when she’s sick. I can’t nurture her over a cappuccino when she’s had a bad day, or tie her to a chair leg until she rethinks her tattoo decisions. I can’t “mom” her. She looks tired to me, and frail. She works and goes to school and gets little sleep. She commutes from her job in the city to her little trailer in the country, and walks three-quarters of a mile down a dirt road in the dark each weekday morning (at 6 a.m.) to ride a bus for an hour to her rural school, where she fits in like a porcupine at a balloon festival. I want to fix things for her, help make her life easier, but she seems happy with what she’s doing. She relishes her independence.
I soaked up my time with her like an ocean sponge. I was the ambassador of my crummy city, driving them around, pointing out the bright spots amid the dilapidation. We cranked up David Bowie and sang at the tops of our lungs, my daughter reaching over and holding my hand as we took our aimless tour.
Initially, I was embarrassed about my fibromyalgia and my currently reduced circumstances (past visits have included mall excursions and intense spoiling), but my visiting dignitaries didn’t seem to mind, so I soon got over it. I cooked like crazy, trying to provide nourishment for girls who’d rather socialize than eat. They loved it. It had obviously been a long time since they’d had a home-cooked meal, and I think my daughter enjoyed saying, “Mommy? Will you make me some _____ (fill in the blank)?” I brewed her hot tea, fussed over her and gave her a million hugs.
As promised, I took them to get their belly buttons pierced. I’m sorry to report that I embarrassed them to death. I’d never been inside a tattoo/piercing studio before, and it was fascinating. I never thought I’d say this, but I loved the guy who punctured their bellies, and felt that their navels were in good hands. I asked a million questions, all of which he patiently and enthusiastically answered. We sort of bonded, and the girls crushed on him a little. He was adorable. I wanted to ask him how he applied his eyeliner so expertly, or if the gigantic, triangle-shaped holes in his earlobes hurt, and I think it’s a testament to my willpower that I didn’t. Still, the girls were a bit mortified by my line of questioning, but afterward my daughter told her friend philosophically, “I kind of knew what I’d be getting into by bringing my mom.” For several days afterward, they sat looking at their bellies, admiring the new barbells that jutted from that place that used to connect them to their mothers.
My daughter cut my hair. A ton of it, hunks of which she handed me as she gleefully whacked more off. Tom loves it, and so do I, only it’s a LOT shorter than I’m used to. I also think the back’s a little uneven, but I don’t care, since I can’t see that part. She spoke to me patiently of “training” my hair, instructed me in the proper use of a straightening iron, and encouraged me to use various
crap products to keep it from wiggling and frizzing (but I like my wiggles and frizzes).
We played Boggle for hours, visited a nearby college town, window shopped, ate burgers and walked around. We listened to music and browsed bad tattoo sites online. We went to the library and rented movies. I gave them free reign of my art cabinet, and they drew and painted and relaxed. They devoured an entire box of Private Crunch cereal, and gave Tom’s cat a lot of TLC.
We exchanged gifts. My daughter brought me a picture, a semi-self portrait that she’d drawn one night while we were talking on the phone. And she left me her David Bowie CD as a parting gift. I gave her my amazing flopping fish salt and pepper shakers (which I’ll tell you about later) and a signed and numbered photo of a ring-necked pheasant.
Yesterday morning, I drove them to the bus station at 5:30 a.m. so that they could make the eighteen-hour ride home. My daughter told me to just drop them off at the curb, so of course I went inside. Every head in the place turned as these two gorgeous, wild-looking girls entered the building. “Watch out for weirdos,” I whispered to them, sort of ironically.
I feel incredibly honored that they made this trip to see me. I treasured every moment. Okay, I’m crying now, and it’s hard to see the screen. Sorry if this is sort of melancholy, but I miss them already.
The “semi-self portrait” that my daughter brought me. She had trouble with the mouth, so this was her solution. The quote says:
“One should never trust a woman who tells her real age. A woman who would tell one that, would tell one anything.”–Oscar Wilde