Dec 14

Two Long Years

Mom, I’m thinking a lot about Ferguson lately. There have been protests and boycotts and there’s a candlelight vigil for Mike Brown tomorrow, here in Wellington, on the other side of the world from Missouri. I want to talk to you about race and ethnicity. I want to talk to you about whiteness.

Mom, I got my hair cut over the weekend. My new hair lady is very nice (and has very interesting hair herself, which I always feel is a good sign) and her salon is tiny and adorable and she always makes me Earl Grey tea. I colour my hair now. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence but I started going gray for real after I lost you and I’m sort of just not ready yet. So I’m getting it coloured now. It’s still dark, with kind of a brown tone on top. I want to talk to you about hair.

Mom, I’ve been working this whole year, after a year when I thought I would never be gainfully employed. It’s been going well–I really like it. I’m pretty good at it, which is rather a pleasant surprise. I want to talk to you about work; about working.

Mom, there’s a new set of short stories by Margaret Atwood. I would get you that book for Christmas this year, if I could. Maybe you would get it for me. I still have all the books you sent me after I boxed them up in Ballard almost seven years ago. I want to talk to you about reading.

Mom, going through all these old blog entries as I write to you now makes me miss, a little, the way I used to write. Certainly the amount I used to write! I used to really not care about anything online, like I wasn’t embarrassed at all, even though I know you read everything I wrote. Weeks go by, now, between spates of writing here, months sometimes. People no longer ask me, ‘Are you going to blog about this?’ I want to talk to you about writing.

Mom, I bought a new bathing suit today, or ‘some new togs’ as we say in New Zealand. It’s a once piece, pink and purple with black and white polka dots. It’s because I hurt my leg and now my back and I’m supposed to be swimming to try to heal it a bit. My ridiculous fancy gym that I sort of hate but try to go to anyway has a pool, so I put on my new togs and swam ten slow laps today. The chlorine isn’t very good for my hair, I have to say. It felt nice to swim, though, it felt nice to be in the water. I just wish I could listen to a podcast or something while I was swimming. Mom, I think you would like Serial. I find it problematic in some ways but it’s very good. I want to talk to you about things that are problematic but also very good.

Mom, I still don’t have a cat and I probably will never have a cat in New Zealand because I only like outdoor cats and they eat the native birds and I don’t actually know if I want to bother with the responsibility of a taking care of a cat. I do talk to cats on the street, though, I always offer to scratch their ears if they will let me. Your cats are home on the island, with your sweet neighbour. They spent more time with you than I ever did because I kept moving farther and farther away. I want to talk to you about cats.

Mom, I went to Queenstown and to Melbourne. I went to Thailand, too, ages ago, before I got this job. I thought of you in all those places. I’m going to Tokoroa to visit G’s family for Christmas and I will think of you there too. I want to talk to you about going new places and trying new things.

Mom, I am going to the US for a visit next year, next summer. I’m going to Florida. I’m going to go to the island, to which I haven’t been since your memorial service almost exactly two years ago. You weren’t there, at that service; you were nowhere to be found, and I didn’t really understand what was happening that day or why we were at your school without you. Will you be there next year? On the beach? In the Quiet Gardens? Will I feel closer to you, will it make more sense to talk to you then? People told me you would always be with me, but they were wrong. Writing to you like this feels wrong. It feels worse that wrong, it feels useless. You are not with me now. Will you be there when I go home, next year? Or will the grief just be there instead, the way it has for these two long years that have gone by so quickly, that have taken me further from you every day.

Mom, I want to talk to you about grief, and how much I miss you. I want to tell you that I didn’t think it would get better, exactly, but I didn’t think it would still be sometimes so bad. I want to talk to you about books and hair and travel and race and class and culture and cats and flowers and the weather and everything else. I want to talk to you about the awkwardness of writing you a letter on my mostly-defunct blog because maybe, magically, you are still my proud and careful mother, still reading everything I pointlessly, pointlessly write.