February 6th, Zoe and I went down to an upscale mall to return a couple things she'd gotten for Christmas. My mom got them at a Nordstrom in California and brought them with her for the holiday. While Zoe liked most of the stuff, she hadn't liked a jacket and leggings. We needed to take them back and get something she did like.
I was a little nervous about making this trip. I always have this low level anxiety going to a store that caters to the more affluent. I have this fear that the staff will be snotty and rude.
And it's not like I haven't done anything upscale. I've done upscale. I've done upscale in a big way. The Christmas I was sixteen I attended so many black tie holiday parties with my parents my bought me three formal dresses. Three, so that I could rotate which dress I wore based on what area we would be going to that night. I could wear the black ruffled dress to a party in our hometown and to a party in Orange County. Then wear the straight-skirted black dress to a party in our hometown and a party in Orange County. Since so many people attended the same parties we did, I wouldn't be seen in the same dress twice.
We were once invited to a wedding as we were friends with the groom but didn't know the bride very well. She asked her fiance if his friends understood that renaissance faire costumes would not be appropriate for this event. When I heard this I waved my finger around in the air yelling "She doesn't know ME!" for quite a while. Do I know what 'black tie optional' means? Ohhhh, it was a good thing she wasn't standing in front of me.
I still love valet parking. Valet parking is one of the best things ever. I really like getting dressed up and going out for dinner or to the theatre. I happen to have a general sense of insecurity that makes me think I'm going to be laughed at if I leave my comfort zone of the funkier parts of town.
I countered this by getting all dolled up. Full skirt with lacy underskirt, did my hair up in victory rolls, broke out my clear, plastic bowling bag to carry. Lipstick. Lipstick. Lipstick.
Zoe and I successfully returned the jacket and leggings for store credit. Ten minutes later Zoe had picked out a watch with a blue band and pink face, a purple cloche hat and and a cushy pink bathrobe with flowers and peace signs on it. She wore her hat and her watch while we had lunch in the cafe.
I said "It's nice for us to do things just by ourselves, isn't it?" I asked her
"Yeah," she replied. "Doing girly-girl stuff. Because I'm a girly-girl." We just had the nicest time.
But when we got home she and her brother started fighting. And I was the only one who could do anything for them. Immediately, I was being pulled in five different directions. The kids, the house, the fact that the kids needed doing for and Scott was in the middle of an online game. He's also the one person I want attention from, but he's stressed and doing his own thing.
That day I felt like I had no tears left to even cry, I had given them all to my children. I had poured my soul into them. I defined myself by them. I am their Mother. But they want more from me. I was trying so very hard to cling to the one last scrap of myself I was trying to save for myself. In that little scrap were all the things that were so far from the Suburban Me I'd become.
Me, when I was 16 and could tell when a guy liked me because he'd let me wear his jacket. And when I pulled out my cigarettes I'd ask for a light, knowing his Zippo was in the inside pocket of the jacket I was wearing. If he really liked me, he'd reach in the pocket himself for his Zippo to light my smoke. If there was extended eye contact over the flame? Baby it was ON.
Me, who knew when the bars stopped carding so I could go see Scott's bands. Often I didn't even leave the house until midnight.
Me, who stood with my friends Kevin and Susi on the dock in Disneyland where you boarded the Mark Twain paddle boat. We were standing there because you could watch the boats queue up for Fantasmic. The sailing ship Columbia came by with a pirate hanging off one of the ropes waving and saying "Ahoy me 'earties!" when I lifted up my shirt. Oh, the look of utter surprise on his face!
Me, who went out with my friend Marlyna one night. An hour later we had two neat lines of strawberry margaritas in front of us, sent over by male patrons. Five for each of us.
Me, who once gave one of my classmates a ride to his cocaine dealer's house. The following Monday he gave me and empty vial with a note in it saying if I ever wanted to party.....
Me. One of Kathye, Susi and Me. Me, who snuck into Kevin and Susi's house with Kathye and hid Kevin's underwear all over the house.
Me, who liked to walk in between the sheets on my grandmother's clothesline while they were still damp until I was 22 years old. I only stopped doing it because they moved.
All these things that made up Me. The Me before I became a mom and lost myself for a while. And now I'd gathered the few little scraps I'd uncovered and was guarding them zealously.
Please, please, I wanted to beg them, let me have this. Just this. It gives me the strength to raise my arms to hug you. It helps me remember that I can't teach you to be your own person I am not my own person. It's going to help me get through your teenage years. So I can remember how confused and hurt you are when they don't call, when you're not invited, when you're suddenly snubbed.
Apparently, now that I'd gotten a little scrap of myself back, I wanted a little more. Time to start learning where the appropriate place to draw the line was located.