I was twenty-four when I took myself back. Yes, it wasn’t until I was twenty-four that I discovered I contained something called a self, and this self wasn’t merely an extension of her. I discovered I had a me inside of me, and this me could potentially be mine to shape instead of hers. I learned I had agency and I could leave. And for the first time in my life, I consciously decided to be myself and not my mother.
However, I did wonder what I would be like without her influence. Perhaps I would discover that, unlike her, I was a severely uncool person. You see, I’ve never admitted this to anyone, but ever since I was a young girl, I have secretly fantasized about being an average, invisible, completely normal and uncomplicated person, living a completely normal and uncomplicated life.
In these fantasies of mine, my name is Sandy and I have long, straight, light brown hair. I live in Redondo Beach in a 1980s apartment complex called Las Palmas. I have a popcorn stucco ceiling with a dark wood, highly lacquered fan hanging from it. My apartment is decorated with seashells and baskets. In my living area I have a set of brown and tan nubby overstuffed couches surrounding a brass glass topped coffee table. I have pictures of butterflies in my bathroom and pretty peach colored towels folded neatly in my linen closet. I have potted ferns and an African violet along the windowsill in my kitchen. I wear denim jeans and pink fitted T-shirts. I wear brown sandals. And I am having a very satisfying affair with my nice, middle-aged neighbor, Larry. Larry has a slight paunch and facial hair. We have barbecues together on the weekends, where we like to sit outside drinking pina coladas and listening to smooth jazz and maybe even smoking a little pot. Later on we go inside and experiment with different positions from The Joy of Sex. There are almost no books in my apartment, and only a few ancient copies of National Geographic and Sunset magazine. I have a job as a receptionist in a dentist office on Main Street, I drive a tan Toyota Corolla, and I have a tan, longhaired cat named Speckles.
Sometimes in this fantasy of mine, I imagine myself sitting alone on the beach after work and watching the sunset. As I sit there, I contemplate my new life. I even begin to have doubts. Was I right to leave her behind? Was I right to completely cut her off like that? Was it cruel and selfish and weak-minded of me to choose to live as I do and not like her? But before my mind gets too carried away in these reflections, I quickly regain control of the ship.
And immediately after the sun disappears, I drive my brown Toyota Corolla back to the Las Palmas apartment complex and I walk up to my second floor unit. Once inside, I change into my favorite beige sweat outfit and microwave a frozen Weight Watchers lasagna dinner. Later on I watch a nature show on whales. When I start to feel sleepy, I wash my face, brush my teeth, and lie down on my pale blue, ocean patterned sheets. The smell of night jasmine drifts in from my open window and I can hear the tinkling of the seashell wind chime on my porch. Soon I am fast asleep, dreaming the normal and uncomplicated dreams of a normal and uncomplicated person.
Photo by Jim Mead