I read Marion Winik’s Telling this weekend. It resonated. She writes about being out all night, doing acid, with her sister, arriving home as her mother is having a morning cup of coffee. Marion tells her mom that they’re tripping but it’s okay because “We don’t think we’re Jesus Christ.” Her mother sighs and gets up to pour herself another cup of coffee. She tells the girls to get some sleep before their grandmother arrives.
At the beginning of my polite, teenage secession, when I’d been out too late, and thought I’d sneak up the back stairs, sometimes my mother would be sitting at the top of the stairs, “Well, well, well, so glad you deigned to join us.” Like hers, my vocabulary increases exponentially to my anger. I knew I was in deep if I was deigning to do anything.
I didn’t go home tripping until after I’d been out on my own for a couple of years. The Boyfriend and I had been living in New Orleans. We hadn’t seen our families for a long time so we decided to go “home” for the holidays. We spent Christmas with his parents then went to Mum’s in between Christmas and the New Year. I was excited to be going home.
I asked Mum to make beef stroganoff. I can’t imagine why I asked for that, not being a big beef eater, maybe I figured The Boyfriend would like it. We got settled and talked with my family for a while then went to visit the Bob Dylan Republican before dinner. The President of the Sportsman’s Club (the Sportsman’s Club was the converted garage where we skipped high school and drank keg beer) happened to be there too, with an abundance of windowpane acid.
We had some drinks, several, and I ate 3 hits of windowpane. I had a propensity for making trouble out of thin air back then. The President offered me one hit but it didn’t seem to be effective so I took a little more, twice. I missed dinner.
The Boyfriend was disgusted by my behavior. He took my drunk ass back to Mum’s where he took his logical, well-behaved, self to bed. Me too, I went to bed too, passed out drunk. I woke up in the middle of the night- TRIPPING. Sneaking around the house, naked, certain I was living in the midst of a plot, insurgents, spies, intrigue and espionage.
Somehow I made it back upstairs and into some clothes. My sister got me settled in her bed, where I watched the patches on the quilt rise and fall, while the drawers on her dresser opened and closed- spontaneously.
We all went downstairs to have coffee with Mum. Nobody but me saw the big, pink, tidal wave crest over the bridge. The Boyfriend thought fresh air would be beneficial. We went for a walk on the beach; the stones rose up to meet my feet. After three days I stopped tripping. I just wanted to leave and go “home”. My mother waved goodbye from the door as she watched me go. She must have been relieved.
Winik writes about parenting “…like your own mother, like everybody else you know- you do what you think is right. And when you can’t always live up to that, you do the best you can.”
I have never been my mother’s fault.