Thursday, November 8, 2007

opacities

My mother drove down to visit last night. When I came home from work, she was sitting in the living room, a laptop on her lap. "Let's go out to dinner," she said and I put on a sweater and a coat. Walking down the hill, I pulled my hands up inside my sleeves. "Are you all right?" asked my mother. "Just a little cold," I said.

The restaurant that we wanted to go to had a sign on the front door that said "Closed For Private Event," so we went to the Chinese restaurant next door. "I think we went here last time I was here," said my mother. "I think we're sitting at the exact same table." I examined the watercolor scrolls on the wall and realized that she was right. My mother ordered tea and I asked for water and we both read our menus. There were so many things that we didn't want to talk about that we said almost nothing at all.

I explained what I was doing at work. My mother told me about the book she was working on. The waiter brought the food on a huge silver-colored tray and we watched him use a spoon to roll the moo-shi neatly into its wrappers. "I've never seen them do that before. Have you?" asked my mother.

She spooned out rice and some of the chicken dish she had ordered. "These are wonderful," she said, "Would you like some?" "No, thanks" I said and concentrated on using a chopstick to poke holes in the Peking ravioli. I thought about lots of things, most of them sad.

We ate slowly and, when we were done, the waiter brought the bill and two fortune cookies. "I prefer the vanilla ones to the chocolate," said my mother. I cracked my cookie open and read the fortune out loud: "Faith is not only belief. It is also full." "Full?" said my mother "That can't be right." I passed the piece of paper across the table. "I think you're right," I said. "It must be a misprint or maybe a mistranslation." "Probably," said my mother. We stared down at our hands, considering, but, in the end, neither of us could even guess at what the fortune writer had been trying to say.

25 comments:

thailandchani said...

full of.. richness, comfort, .... (your choice)

Julie Pippert said...

Wow. This was so richly written, it felt luxurious (and a little intrusive) to read. That's, by the way, meant as very complimentary.

Julie
Using My Words

Christine said...

i could see your hands disappearing in your sleeves, hiding.

like your sadness.


and like julie and chani the perfect word for this piece is rich.

Magpie said...

A poor attempt at a play on "faithful".

I'm sorry that you weren't able to clear the air with your mother.

slouching mom said...

What a wrenching, gorgeous post. God, niobe, this post struck me dumb.

There were so many things that we didn't want to talk about that we said almost nothing at all.

So much pain in this line. I'm sorry.

Amelie said...

Same line as slouching mom.
There's a lot of uncomfortableness and sadness in this post. I'm so sorry, Niobe.

The Oneliner (Christina) said...

your relationship with your mother is heavy. i think all mothers and daughters have conflict, but yours so much more intense.
and that makes me feel bad for you, because it would make me happy for you to have her to lean on right about now.
sorry about that.

Catherine said...

I don't know how you do it. I think I would have exploded by now.

Eva said...

You and your mother--it's all very frustrating for me as an observer. I feel like I want to mediate!

Amelie said...

And just because I've been wondering since I read the first lines -- she didn't come without asking you first, did she?

niobe said...

Amelie: No, I knew she was coming. She just got there much earlier than I had expected.

Julia said...

I am sorry all these things are still hanging in the air, unsaid.
That is a bizarre fortune. What did your mother's say?

Which Box said...

This is what it's like with my husband. (when we're not arguing.)

It shouldn't be this way with anyone, but definitely not with your mom. I'm sorry.

meg said...

Niobe, I wish that the unspoken words between you both could have been spoken.

I would have been glad of the silence with my mother, because then I would not have had to hear hurtful things...but that just shows you how bad things are with my mother (i.e. beyond repair).

I hope for a little repair for you and your mother. I really do. Oh and by this, I mean I hope your mother tries a little more.

Artblog said...

I agree, I don't know how you contain yourself. You speak so freely on your blog.

HUGS

Tash said...

You could cut the tension in that post with your chopstick. I think I would've stabbed my poor ravioli to death. Full of nothing, perhaps.

Aurelia said...

I don't know how you do it. If I wasn't able to speak to her freely, I'd just have to leave and never speak to that person again.

I'm amazed at this.

niobe said...

I think, in this case, it was pretty clearly as much my fault as hers. I'm hoping that we can get past this.

Because my relationship with my mother has been one of the casualties of this past year. Before, we had gotten along very well for years and years. Since the twins' deaths, we just can't seem to find any common ground.

thrice said...

But how do you get past it without honest conversation? Will your mother really be satisfied with solely-weather-talk in your relationship? I hope not, but then again, I would be satisfied with solely-weather-talk with my mother, but only because the alternative is absolute lunacy.

Beautiful post, I'm just sorry that it has to be your real life. {{hugs}}

Lori said...

Niobe, This is painful to read not only because I ache for you, but because it strikes a chord with me. My mother and I had a close relationship for years, and my infertility and loss seems to have driven an irreversible wedge between us. It has improved with time, but I am certain our relationship will never quite be the same. And, in my case, it is truly no fault of hers... or mine... it just is.

My Reality said...

Your writing, once again, amazes me. If you mother could only read some of your words, perhaps it might help you to reconnect with her.

I am not suggesting she read your blog, but perhaps you could write her a letter?

ms. G said...

Niobe, I am not sure how you can say it was your fault too. Do you mean just the awkard dinner, or the loss of relationship?

Just from what you have told us, I see the loss of relationship as mostly her fault. She didn't step up to the plate, and she still isn't. What can you do? Force her? That would never work.

It seems as though you can't find any common ground, because she wants to deny your loss, your grief, and what happened. Pink elephant in the room?

This post made me sad. I'm sorry, Niobe.

Jitters said...

You mention your mother is a writer. Have you read any of her books? I don't believe her actions are correct, but I am wondering if she is coding her justification through her writing in some way.

Sorry about a bad dinner, that feeling resonates and saddens.

niobe said...

Jitters: I didn't explain this in the post, but the book my mother is writing is a medical textbook. She's actually a psychiatrist. I'm not sure if that makes it better or worse.

Rebecca said...

I think that makes it worse - she would know how to bridge gaps. Somehow, as daughters, we forever remain hidden.