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On Saturdays in June, Violet would take her Granma for fruit smoothies. She would find her Granma among the other patients, sit her in a wheelchair, sign her out for the hour and wheel her […]
At 3:20 a.m., I was dressed and standing in front of the mirror in my bedroom. My bedroom was not large, about fifteen feet by ten, with a window facing west, and several posters on the wall. There was one of Don Mattingly, the Yankees’ first baseman, his glove on the ground waiting to stop any baseball from getting by. Another was of Debbie Gibson, in concert, as well as a poster of a topless Samantha Fox. I stared back at the mirror and smiled. Today was supposed to be the beginning of something special; today was the beginning of my mother and I reconnecting.
My mother and I used to be really close. We could talk about anything. We would stay up late watching television and drink hot chocolate with marshmallows. This changed, however, when I was fourteen years old and she decided to come out of the closet by having her lover tell me that she was gay.
My mother walked into my room and seemed to be in a good mood. “I didn’t think you would be awake,” she said, fixing my collar.
“What? Shit, mom, I’m not gonna miss this trip for nothin’,” I said.
“Good, I’m gonna have a cup of coffee, want some?”
I nodded and she left the room.
We had grown apart. Arguments and disrespect dominated the airways of our tiny home. After my mother came out, Isabel, her lover, moved in with her “entourage” of four kids cramming eight people into our two-bedroom apartment.
We exited the building and were greeted by the cold winter morning air. The wind was blowing fiercely, and I loved it. The streets were filled with mountains of dirty snow, and the pavement had that white coating left behind by the snowplows. My mother had borrowed her best friend’s car: a blue 1983 Chevy Nova. It was three years old with light-blue cloth seats and the Puerto Rican flag hanging from the rear view mirror. It was very clean, smelled like cinnamon, and it had a cassette player.
We were on our way to Buffalo to visit a lady, a lady my mother was playing dirty with behind Isabel’s back. The lady was named Jennifer, and my mother had met her in a gay club called Aries, in the Bronx. Jennifer, a court stenographer, had been in New York City visiting her friends for the weekend. They hit it off, and the affair soon followed. My mother’s philandering never surprised me. It would not have been the first time she strayed. My mother was also having an affair with a lady that lived on the fourth floor of our building. All this despite being in an “exclusive” relationship with Isabel. My mother sat in the driver’s seat, placed the key in the ignition and turned it on. The inside was freezing, and she quickly turned on the heater.
Twenty-three years had passed since I spent a summer in my hometown of Gorleston-On-Sea, a quaint, soporific seaside town on the bucolic Norfolk coast in southeast England. My last summer there was on the eve of my nineteenth birthday. I was about to move to London to attend university and finally snip the apron strings that tied me to my comfortable, rural middle class upbringing. Now, as a parent with two young daughters of my own, I felt they should experience what I had taken for granted in my youth. I wanted them to trade the muggy, congested, dusty streets of New York for the tranquil, salty air and rolling green cliffs of England. Any other parent who had the chance would do the same.
So under a cloudless blue sky and gentle breeze, a few days into my trip, I went on one of my customary morning runs on the expansive golden beach, which was about a thousand yards from my mom’s house. About halfway through, as the endorphins kicked in, soaked in sun and sweat, I felt a beautiful, spacey high. The blur of thirty years vanished, and I couldn’t distinguish the timeline between being eleven and forty-one. It didn’t really matter. The surrounding smells and feelings were so familiar. I completed the run quickly, hardly noticing my feet moving on the sand.