The weekend approached quickly. I look forward to those two days of consecutive rest and detachment. Two days to do absolutely nothing if I choose to do absolutely nothing. Sit on the couch, sprawled out in front of the television watching back to back episodes of whatever show I have grown addicted to that week. Marathon sessions ensue and before I know it, 2 seasons of Enlightened have come and gone. Laura Dern is amazing by the way.
I met my mother on Saturday at a Whole Foods back in Pembroke Pines where I grew up. We drank kale smoothies, her first time. I dumped half a shot of ginger in her smoothie which warranted a face cringing look of disgust. I emptied the rest of it into my juice, which looks like something that would have been poured over someone’s head on Nickelodeon back in the early 90’s.
I have embraced the juicing lifestyle with a determination that only a true addict could understand. I want to lose some weight and fill myself with healthier foods so I can look like a vegan for a cruise in March.
I got lost in the ice cream, cake and cookie abyss for a few months and trying to kick the sweets is like falling off a cliff. Dangling from the ledge of a bottomless canyon while I claw my way up to the surface. Nails breaking, skin raw and bloody. Somehow I managed to drag my sweet tooth over the edge where I rest in the land of fresh pressed juices and green smoothies from my Ninja blender.
My mom and I sat at Whole Foods where I unleashed how I have been feeling over the past few months. She did the same. It was a moment that needed to happen in order for us to reconnect. I feel like I have been trying to do a lot of that lately. In an attempt to shed some old skin, I’m having to embrace some old skin.
I realize that the older I get, the more I can relate to my parents. How much I am like these two people who made me. We are in this life together, for better or for worse. They have seen my ugly. They have cleaned my vomit after nights of drinking. They have picked me up from jail. They have fought my battles. They have seen my destruction and never turned their backs. They have loved me unconditionally.
For better or for worse.
As my mother and I spoke, I began to see her as an equal. As someone who has walked with me through this journey and truly is with me in this life. We spoke about how we drift apart but come back together. John Donne’s poem A Valediction Forbidding Mourning immediately comes to mind. Two people who drift apart like a compass, only to come full circle and unite again.
If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fix’d foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th’ other do.
And though it in the centre sit,
Yet, when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.
Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th’ other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.
I imagine it is a bittersweet process for a mother to watch her child grow up. The bird leaves the nest and everything she has worked for, worked toward, is gone. On his own to fly in whatever direction he chooses. And she is left alone to resume life for herself. Like all of a sudden the play button is pushed and it’s time to pick up the pieces from a life kept at bay for so long. What is her purpose now? Who does she take care of? Now what?
We stood in the Whole Foods parking lot. The sun made me squint. I looked at my mom who stared back at me with a smile on her face that I can only explain as true peace. Connecting with her son again.
“My fear is that if something ever happened, you would not defend me. You wouldn’t have my back.” She spoke honestly and from a place that I understood as fear. Fear of losing her only son to someone else, fear that she wasn’t good enough, fear of abandonment or whatever it may have been. “I love you, Ryan, and I just miss you.”
“You should never doubt that I have your back,” I said. “You are one of the most important people in my life. I would always stand by your side no matter what.” I noticed just how human she is. That just because she is my mother, doesn’t mean that she has surpassed these same feelings that I have. That anybody has.
“It’s like anything in life, mom. We grow together then grow apart, then hopefully we reconnect stronger than ever. I had to go off and do my own thing, to develop independently and find myself. It’s all so necessary to get us where we’re going.” What I was saying just kind of made sense at the time. I didn’t know where it was coming from, or how I knew it. But I knew it to be true for me. “We all have our journey. But today we are able to relate to each other in a much more substantial way than we ever could have when I was a kid. And that’s the biggest difference. Our relationship today is stronger than it was because so much has happened.”
She looked at me and smiled.
“I’m just so proud of you,” she said.
And that’s all I ever wanted to hear.