I forgot to mention about how I love black coffee even though she brews hers so it is nearly transparent
It only took a hiccup I couldn’t control. My breath caught in my throat, and I blinked, and then I was sobbing.
It’s Mother’s Day.
The Moth has been unflagging in her support of my staying in Los Angeles. In Austin, she and I saw each other at least twice a week, and some weeks more, but I don’t think less than that very often. She once loaned me her car for 10 months because mine didn’t have a/c, so I drove her on errands. When I returned her car, it wasn’t a month before there was some mishap that fucked the oil pan and it was rendered unworthy of driving, so I was her taxi again. I stayed with her for a week in September when I was unsure of my future. She didn’t mind me, didn’t grow impatient with some other body in her space, which wasn’t huge.
Close? We are oddly understanding of each other. She doesn’t freak out over my body mod luv. She doesn’t expect me to change what I’m doing if she rolls her eyes about it. She doesn’t offer unsolicited advice. (mostly usually.)
I miss her a lot. We talk daily. She’s one of my alarm clocks, but the last one, because she doesn’t like mornings. Usually by the time she calls I’m perched on a chair at coffee, killing an hour before the bus. She’s one of my biggest fans, and I can’t shut up about how great I think she is.
A friend made an excellent suggestion for a present for Mother’s Day. She said once she had gotten a wooden box and put inside it slips of paper upon which she had written her favorite memories of her mother.
Which is so fucking much better than a book about economics or something I had thought to send her. Unbelievably much better and I owe my friend endless thanks.
I found a box at tenthousandvillages. It’s made from cinnamon. I knew it was perfect. Did you know cinnamon was a tree? The box was hand carved by a Vietnamese villager. (My purchase will benefit he and his family! (or something))
I searched for while for what kind of paper to use. I looked at sites with paper made from silk, which I really liked, but couldn’t figure out for fuck anything how to order and I had no idea what amount I needed.
I happened upon an Etsy store offering 30 sheets of 4x5inch handmade paper for the exactly right price. And the paper was exactly right. I ordered it before someone else could sneak in and do it ahead of me because everyone thinks the same as me all the time. (I’m not serious.)
I started working on what I would write on the aforementioned sheets of paper. I put this on googledocs (or drive now, I guess) so I could do edit this on whichever device was before me. I wasn’t consumed by this project, but I thought about it a lot. I was happy about it. It wasn’t until a couple days ago that I started worrying about how today would go for either of us.
I kept the secret of this endeavor from the Moth. (About me and presents: I get unreasonably excited about giving people gifts. I don’t want to wait until your birthday, or christmas day or whateverthefuck day. I want you to have it yesterday, god, the suspense is killing me, I’m so excited, please, can you just open the one from me nownownownow?) I would send to Bro under a pseudonym he & I jointly created: Isaac Artemis. (Isaac was the parent of twins and Artemis is a twin, for those readers unbothered by mythology.) It was she & me in that moniker.
Before shipping, though, I had to write out those nuggets of memories. This morphed a bit from the original idea based upon input from Ipso, and I flipped most of them into things I remember and what she taught me, though some of these are just “you’re the fuckingmostawesomest” except in more limpid prose
Following is the memory register. I settled on 13 because it’s her favorite number and today is the 13th.
Bravery. You told me once that upon the morning after our move-in to Melvin Ave, I introduced myself to everyone on the street. With my name, address and phone number. At 6am. Though I am 33 years older, I continue this fearlessness in most things in my life.
Eggs and Life. I found a book called Cook-it-Quick: Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less (or something). I made an omelette. It was the last recipe in the thin volume (which had a dark green cover and gold lettering and a drawing of an analog stopwatch), and I thought I could do it. I think I was 9 years old. I approach all things (ok most) as that kid, who can do it because I think so. You, you never once gave me cause to think there was any reasons otherwise.
Yes, I’m beautiful. I have this unmarred vision of you, standing on the back porch in Racine. Your hair was white. You had on red lipstick. Someone asked if you were my grandmother. The look on your face was an amazing combination of horror and amusement. Shortly thereafter, we were in California, and you were coloring your hair again. Shortly after that, you had lost a lot of weight. And it wasn’t too long before someone asked if we were sisters. When whomever it was asked if we were sisters, you were wearing red lipstick that day, too. I am unafraid to be take pride in how I look.
Why I wear rings on all of my fingers. I remember one time looking at my grandfather’s hands and thinking that his and mine looked pretty similar. And I looked at my grandmother’s hands and I saw yours. I love your hands. With them, you bring into being most beautiful design: you build and create. Also, they’re pretty.
A Redux Owing. I hadn’t been in LA too long when we were sitting outside the starbucks on fairfax & olympic and we were both smoking Marlboro Lights. You were dressed for work, having come to hang out with me after you had finished. I later wrote a poem based upon you, but it’s a crappy poem, so I don’t remember it well. I’ll write you a better one.
Un re denarii. You learned Scrabble against-the-board, so you taught us Scrabble-against-the-board. (un-re-denarii?) People think I’ll be really good at that game because I have the words things, but without a team I’m rudderless and/or i don’t care a fig about winning. Scrabble-against-the-board taught me that I will do better when I work well with others. It’s one of my dearest principles, and why I say good morning and thank you to everyone I can. As a result, people smile at me, people remember me, people give me things and I have good friends.
She does it all. There are sometimes that I go to work because you would have. Not because I like what I do, my life is all the time that I’m not at work, really. But because when shit was hard, you worked as a housekeeper and a cashier at the same time. Because you make things work out. And I don’t think anymore that if I hope hard enough things will work out. I have hands and feet to make this life whatever I want.
I’ll show you feminism. You never bandied about feminism. You fought the Gang of 6, you moved on and up. You drove 55 miles one way to work, even in terrible weather, in a standard. You routinely don’t put up with bullshit. You do this because you’re strong and capable, and not because the patriarchy owes you something. If you are a feminist, you are wordlessly eloquent, gracefully kickboxing right-wing idiocy, destroying prejudice by never mentioning to anyone that yes, you knew they felt that way back then and what about now, now that you have dazzled them? Because of you, I am good at everything I do.
When you spoke a language I couldn’t learn. I have carried a kind of millstone about (sometimes in my pocket, to be sure), because macroeconomics made no sense to me when I was 19, and you tried so hard to pound it into my head, you were living on Roswell Ave, I had a stupid workbook that was all in gibberish, and printed backwards. I got a subscription to the Wall Street Journal, like it would help. I admire you so much.
Alchemy and High School. I never knew, through high school and all that, that we had very little money. You’re better than an economist, you’re a magician. You should run the Fed.
Girls and Cars. When people say I drive stick better than anyone, it is with pride I tell them that my mother taught me, and I learned clutch control from you making me practice on speed bumps in the Crystal Cathedral parking lot. There are many men who, upon learning this, say something along the lines of, “I gotta remember that. That’s genius.”
ENFP? I am all too quick to judge my spending habits by my handwriting instead of my ledger entries. On the other hand, I know from you that having enough interest in something and learning about it can make one an expert. You might have invented Unschool before latter-day hippies called it that.
A lack of discipline: parenting by example. People are surprised when I tell them i was never grounded. I also say that I’m a fairly well adjusted citizen who votes and pays taxes, despite what the haircut, tattoos and piercings might lead anyone to otherwise assume. You make me want to be myself, in all the gritty glory that might be.
The tulips Tom gave me died after a day, so i dried the petals. The Moth loves tulips, so I used them in the finished product, too.
Here’s the picture I took of the Moth’s present.
Happy Mother’s Day, Emma. I love you. Happy Mother’s Day, Everybody.
(And, if you’re reading this, Happy Amy Day. I love you, too.)