Friday, October 24, 2014

Chapter Two: The Journey Home










Chapter Two

As the landing launched granola bits up my throat, I secretly clawed the underside of vinyl armrests, and managed a small smile with legs crossed during tales of more fabulous flights from Mr. Mo Money to my left.  Beyond his small head, through the oval window, I glimpsed the baggage train.  It snaked steadily towards us.  A fuel truck also unrolled its trunk-like nozzle, though my brain haggled with: Is she there? Did she come?

Finally freed from my forced friend, I snatched my carry-on from the overhead bin, escaping to the ladies room.  There I purged the relentless questions.  Seconds later at the sink, in the mirror staring back at me I examined the face somewhat refreshed by splashes of cold water.  Quickly brushing my teeth I scolded my reflection.

Okay, Diamond.  Quit it!  You’ll know soon enough.  Try concentrating on something else? 

So, while hurrying through the corridors I did; I noticed: The rumblings.  Rather, the lack of them.  I found I missed the roars from the planes.  When a child, I recalled: It used to be so loud.  So exciting.  Made me know that people were headed someplace.  And someday, maybe it would be me.  So there I was among so many renovations.  Enclosures beautified and silenced Chicago's Midway Airport.

Wow!  Somebody has some money.  Things are really happening since I’ve been gone. Madame didn’t mention anything about this--their completion, I thought.

It’s been four years, I calculated, while doubling my pace on the terminal’s moving walkway.  My flesh and nerves were still jittery on top of this morning’s humiliating frisk for explosives.  Anyway, I survived to stand amidst hugs and kisses; everywhere hugs and kisses.  Happy people.  Crying.  Laughing.  Squeezing.  Making connections.  I observed these building and rebuilding of relationships, as: Is she outside waiting? Has she been there long? again twisted my insides.  As the carousel circled to me everyone else’s luggage.

Finally mine arrived to let me leave.  I took off; constantly searching faces before reaching the arrival curb.

“Hey! I’m here” horns honked much too loud.  Car exhaust fumes massacred the air.  And I thought, tightening my cheeks: I need these high-pitched squeals—like diarrhea.  Where are we?  At a pig farm?  Is all this noise necessary?  Are these giddy people really oblivious of this congestion?  Of the relentless traffic and noise?  The nerve-wrecking taxi fest?  The mess? . . . I’m not.  How can I be? I remembered thinking.
 
The curbside’s constant stream screamed reminders: “Hey, Diamond!  Where’s your Mom?” been these ten long years.

“Somehow I knew you wouldn’t come,” I mumbled, glancing down noticing the wrinkles of my short wool trench between clenched fingers.

I continued mumbling; still pacing.  “To think I actually dressed for you,” my heels clicked concrete in rhythmic frustration.  Yes, impress Mom.  I thought: She should see how successful and mature you’ve become.  Now twenty-two; no longer the eager slippery-lipped child.  No not anymore.

The brown pinstripe suit worked.  No-waist flare-legged pants and fitted jacket accented by a satiny-silk ice blue blouse said, “I look good and successful.”

I yanked on the long blue silk scarf knotted nonchalantly about my hips, thinking: This works too, the scarf picked up the faint thin blue stripes in the suit.  It showed I didn’t take myself too seriously.  Though, my power suit it’s line and color flattered me. 

I’m a product.  Out of necessity.  Mom will get it, won’t she?

She will.  I saw it happening.  Will see to it happening.  Mom shocked after learning of my resourcefulness.  Loving me. . . Okay liking me.  Why not? . . . . She can like me, right?  She has obviously accepted me.  For her invite proves it, right?  Proves that I am forgiven? I tried to convince myself.

I must be forgiven.  And she'll be impressed.  Just wait!   Others were.  I received their admiration.  Just today.  Back in New York.  The uniformed ticket agent, after routine questions regarding baggage, identification, and gate information stated, “I love that outfit!”

Elated, I reached into my wallet and handed her my card.

DDB’S--Diamond Duprey’s Boutique-Type Services,” she read, ending with a low, “I knew it” as the passenger line grew antsy.  “I thought so!  A month ago my friend, she said she met you.  She did.  And she described you.  Just like you are. . . .Girrrl.  You look beautiful!” she said, glancing quickly around, her head bending to verify my license.  Peeking up, her eyes active, she kept going, “I have to tell you.  She loves you.  And I love you.  For her.  What you did for her. . . . . I've gotta tell you.  You’re good,” she finished.

Thoroughly flattered, I laughed taking back my identification.  Thanking her, I said, “Hey, tell your friend ‘Thanks’ for me too.”  I value word-of-mouth.  The proof?  That agent requesting a consultation.  Eager to find out which colors and clothes suited her best.  She begged for “A payment plan, please?” since her finances, she explained, were a bit strained. 

And of course I consented.  I had to.  Before our conversation I had noticed her.  Despite her uniform’s harmony with the airline’s sober blue backdrop, her teased hair and bright colored make-up heavily applied, had me second-guessing my destination.

They’ve switched my ticket from the windy city to Disney, right?  Ah, I get it.  An agent subliminal for sunnier skies, I inwardly teased.

So, I promised her that consultation.  Charitable because of my life’s renewed heaven-bound mobility.  And she handed me her card as a reminder before I floated away from that counter.  ‘Thank-you; thank-you,’ drifted after me.  Of course those extra “thanks” may have been my mental addition, but Mom’s absence sure grounded me fast.

I hugged tight the trench in my arms—fuchsia with striped blue lining in celebration; though, then pointless, as my bubbly champagne-like welcome fizzled long before.  Between the pacing and waiting I tried directory assistance.  And wouldn’t you know it, mom’s number was unlisted.

Great! Should’ve put it in my phone before I lost the scrap of paper.  What did I think?  That I would not lose it because it was Mom’s?

So I stood there like some alien to Chicago, in an unexpected afternoon heat, for a Mom I actually prayed wanted to see me.

This is so like her. . . Unless.  Maybe something happened.  Not that I wanted that.  But, funny, huh?  That possibility somehow stroked my nerves.  Strangely appeased me.  Really funny, huh?  Though I hope nothing serious. . .  Really.  For I needed an actual reason for her absence.  Not a repeat, I thought revisiting one of the last incidents.

Awkward age twelve.  I lingered, a head taller, among friends in the skating rink’s parking lot.  As the darkness increased, I crept near the entrance for another solitary fifteen minutes until the lot cleared of all except a few rowdy teen-age boys passing around the usual brown bag.  Fortunately, a girlfriend’s mother circled back.  “Checking on me,” she said; because, she thought it too dangerous to leave me alone.  She drove me home.

I left Mom that year.  Actually, Madame sent for me.  Bless her.  She sutured the wounds from mainly mom’s repeated stabs of rejection.  But today burst my stitches wide open, while spewing memories burned like battery acid.  Can you believe her making me suffer all over again? 

Maybe Mom didn’t forgive me.  Maybe this is her cruelest trick of all—bring me back to repeat the past.  That would be so her, I thought.  So I stood debating whether to continue the wait; hail a cab; or follow my gut instinct.

Yes, use the return ticket today.  Leave.  Go.  Now.  Before you’re stuck.  That’s right!  Before it’s too late and you’re really stuck.  And you know you will be if she hasn’t changed. . . No, I thought; she probably hasn’t changed, right? I continued.  Probably not.  So, Diamond; go right now.  Go, right back in there and . . . go . . . where?  Nowhere felt like home anymore.  Technically,  I am home.  I can’t go back there; back to Brooklyn now can I? . . . To what?  Begin again? . . .Where I left off?

Like I was ready for that.

Though, earlier this week I swore I was; or so I tried to believe.  Despite him; or to spite him.






Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chapter One: A Happy Reunion?





Chapter One

If I could conjure up some fantastic super-powers, at this exact moment, I would stretch out my arm and yank back the departing taxi; reload my luggage and blink myself back to the airport.

Since I am still here, you see I have none.  Instead, at the curb of Mom’s house under the beautiful turning orange and brown leaves of our oak tree I stand with wheeled luggage by my side as the yellow cab peels off to the next fare. HONESTLY, ... I almost wave it down in pursuit.  But family duty's gotta death grip on my coattail.  These family obligations flew me here,  now they pin me here like a sweaty wrestler.

But, I can do this.  This isn’t just for me, I coax; wishing I’d taken the opportunity to purchase another journal. My other journal entitled “Forever Fabulous” disappeared.  And I need to write these feelings for Madame needs to gain belief in relationships too.  Even if she doesn’t appear to see it, maybe my being able to recount this journey will build her faith.  If not for Prudence I wouldn’t be a believer.

And wasn’t it thoughtful of Prudence?—her small gift, to be opened only when I’ve actually hit my lowest.  Though, when did she think I might hit that point?  She doesn’t know me or my family.  Thus, the gift's negative connotation prevented my rushing to rip it open.   

But upon reconsideration ... maybe she does know something; since I'm somewhat glued to this spot with the paned windows of my childhood home staring at me shadowed and unfriendly.  Bitter.  She, a brick red bungalow trimmed in white, bleached and chipped over time.  A swing on the wrap-around porch squeaks in the wind like yesterdays yearned for—the few memorable ones.  Today, the overgrown grass and unclipped hedges alienates our home from the manicured lawns and sparkling exteriors of our neighbor’s houses situated along the tree-lined suburban block.  While behind the houses the Calumet River flows.

Before we were “our neighbors”—well kept.  Loved.  Briefly.

Now?

Neglected. I stare sympathetic, an actual ally, wanting to display love for her.  To say, “I’m sorry; I know how you feel;” and to assure her, “Don’t worry.  I’ll renew you.”  But like ten years past Mom stands behind the wrought-iron storm door and my promises are interrupted. Like last time she watches and waits, . . . for what?  Should I make the first move? . . . Isn’t it enough that I came?

Maybe that reason kept my feet set like cement blocks way beyond dry.

Stubbornness?

Not really.  Who wouldn’t be peeved about the airport deal?

Fright?

Of what? . . . .Well maybe.

Gradually I accept; yes, I believe I am.  What if I fail?  After Mom who else do I have? What other family connection can I make before Madame dies--? . . . Yes, Mom’s my last hope.  This realization grows this fear to that sumo wrestler's proportions.  Keeps me planted; while my mind writhes in quiet anguish.  Finds desperate distraction in comparing the weathered door, rusted, aged and beaten, with Mom, who hasn’t changed much since I last saw her. . . Except, I notice, she’s a little pale—at least it seems so from this distance.

And she just stands!

Surprised I came . . . I said I would! I want to yell out. Instead, I again attempt to move forward, but can’t.  Sweat begins to moisten the pits of my silk blouse.  Though, with this sudden stream of stress, hope begins to float.

Just maybe she’s also anxious about this visit!  With this tiny twisted joy, although ordinarily I wouldn’t wish anxiety on anyone, I think: Yes, she could very well be.  Matter-of-fact, why shouldn’t she be?  It’s been awhile; and she said she wanted to apologize. But flip side is: She may regret inviting me.

Foolishly, that bit of joy deserted me. I grip instead the luggage handle.  It’s hard, the emotions. Happiness, anger, excitement, disappointment, and worry claw my insides for dominance.  The thin shreds thrash against my interior walls like ribbons in a tornado rage, or maybe butterflies for freedom?  Suddenly, I find, I can’t breathe!  And with no breathe and eventually no life, if I die how will I beg for forgiveness?  Though, that thought I squash. Forgiveness is not now what we are seeking.

I squeeze my purse feeling for the bottle, wanting to shout; would someone please tell me another way to stop this anxiety?  Explain to me how I should feel; what I should do!

While trying to conquer my nerves, muster up some maturity, while the seconds masquerade as minutes marching by, I accept. . . we’ve reached a standoff.  Except, Mom leaves the door and I swing my head side-to-side, embarrassed and puzzled; as if someone watching would explain to me; what just happened?  Why did she leave?

Humiliated, I rationalize: Diamond, you didn’t think this would be difficult for her too?

Swallowing gulps of the great outdoors to squash my disappointment, finally reaching the listless end result, I manage to stroll the long sidewalk towards the house dragging my luggage, considering: You know your other option is to turn around and go home.

And as appealing as the idea is I can’t.  Reaching the house I hesitate a second more before climbing the few concrete steps.  I forsake the iron handrail and house offering support.  When I reach the top, standing before the door with one hand on the handle, Mom reappears.

Face-to-face I want to scream, Why are you doing this?!  My eyes burn in the suppression. But peering at her through the glass I realize; Aww. . . she’s sick.  That’s why she didn’t come!—for this thin layer of moisture glistens on her face.  Intensifies a rosy flush in her cheeks.  The beads of perspiration especially pepper her forehead and upper lip.  Her trembling hand slowly reaches for the door handle as I drop my luggage.

I yank open the door and Mom—“Oomph!” falls. . . . My goodness did it hurt!  After losing her footing and tripping over the threshold her head landed solid against my chest forcing me backward.  Winded, I steady her by her thin shoulders, fragile in my hands, wondering: Is she all right?  Apologizing, “I’m sorry Mom,” since I did yank open the door.

Finally I inhale and. . . Whew!  Alcohol, strong and awful on hot breath overwhelms me more than the collision.

Ah, Mom; this is bad.  Tears win; distort my vision.  Blinking becomes necessary for clarity.  Holding Mom I fight them—the pent-up years of tears. I try to control the anger tremors.  I want to shake her.  Shake her hard.  Shake her to her senses.  Shake her for being drunk.  To ask her, Why today, Mom? ... But I don’t.

“It’s childish,” Madame would say.  “Don’t always expect to get answers or reasons for everything when you want it just because you want it.”

So I hold tight my questions and Mom, for our mountain of missed embraces. Instead, I whisper, softly, “It’s okay,” knowing that it’s not.  Yet I recognize that I’ll support her, for the warmth from her body is incredible.  I guess I missed the wonderful sensation of another human’s arms wrapped around me, even limply.  At this moment, the reality of being here with Mom slowly snuffs out the blaze.  Blankets my disappointments; fears. Suppresses my dark insecurities-- those pervasive serenity-snatching suckers.  Gives me a hopeful glimpse of a. . . a functional family?  Is it possible?

No.  But I’ll even take dysfunctional as long as it’s family.  Slightly rocking back and forth on the porch I cling for that future.  I cuddle into Mom’s neck, childlike.  Delight in the faint powdery scent, until Mom’s soft voice says, . . .what?

I ask. “What’s that, Mom?. . .What did you say?”

“You’re smothering me,” she mumbles; wiggling frantically.

Oh.  Quickly I drop my arms from around her.  I feel a sheepish grin spread across my face; thinking, my goodness! I don’t want to kill her.

“Wow, Diamond!” she breathes.  Her hands push me to an arms distance away, where I’m able to see her face a mottled red.  “Wow. . . .here. . . stand back.  Let me look at you,” she continues breathless.

I stand straight, masking my sudden shyness with this goofy grin, as she studies me, and I her, anxious about her appraisal.  Wanting her approval.  Though disheveled, she’s still beautiful in a floral sheath dress.  I look down into her eyes, hazel to brown—being in heeled-platform boots, while she’s in her bare feet—though, we look to be of a same body size.  Unexpectedly excited, I envision the fun of us swapping clothes compensating our variation in length.   

Continuing to study Mom, I notice I’ve got her nose—straight and sort of small, and her eye shape—almond, also like Madame’s.  I had forgotten.  Coloring is where we mainly differ.  Mom’s natural blonde highlights streaked through her brown hair she has straightened into a shoulder length blunt flip.  The shade always complimented her lightly tanned skin.  She looks chic.  Whereas my skin tone and curly hair is darker.  I can only accomplish chic by taming my mane with gel.  Lots of it.

I realize; people probably wouldn’t recognize our relationship right off.

After the forever examination Mom speaks.  “Diamond. . . . .girl,” she draws out the word, “you’re. . . a freaking giant,” ending the statement with a little laugh.  Her small hand covers her mouth, while her eyes stay glued to my face.  Finally she closes her lids slow and tired-like.  While I blink hard and rapid.  Imagine I didn’t hear her right.

A freaking giant? . . . A freaking giant?  . . . I’m no giant! Five-seven’s no giant!. . . Okay, granted, six feet in five inch heels.  Still.  Maybe it’s the vertical stripes.  Okay, they do elongate.  But still hurt, I remind myself, she’s drunk, Diamond.  Forget it, I pacify my bleeding pride.  What do you expect from alcohol?

The Truth.

I knew I shouldn't have come. . . How the day began was an indication.