Isn’t she quaint, Luke would say to me, and my mother would look sly, furtive almost.
I’m entitled, she’d say. I’m old enough, I’ve paid my dues, it’s time for me to be quaint. You’re still wet behind the ears. Piglet, I should have said.
As for you, she’d say to me, you’re just a backlash. Flash in the pan. History will absolve me.
But she wouldn’t say things like that until after the third drink.
You young people don’t appreciate things, she’d say. You don’t know what we had to go through, just to get you where you are. Look at him, slicing up the carrots. Don’t you know how many women’s lives, how many women’s bodies, the tanks had to roll over just to get that far?
Cooking’s my hobby, Luke would say. I enjoy it.
Hobby, schmobby, my mother would say. You don’t have to make excuses to me. Once upon a time you wouldn’t have been allowed to have such a hobby, they’d have called you queer.
Now, Mother, I would say. Let’s not get into an argument about nothing.
Nothing, she’d say bitterly. You call it nothing. You don’t understand, do you. You don’t understand at all what I’m talking about.
Sometimes she would cry. I was so lonely, she’d say. You have no idea how lonely I was. And I had friends, I was a lucky one, but I was lonely anyway.
I admired my mother in some ways, although things between us were never easy. She expected too much from me, I felt. She expected me to vindicate her life for her, and the choices she’d made. I didn’t want to live my life on her terms. I didn’t want to be the model offspring, the incarnation of her ideas. We used to fight about that. I am not your justification for existence, I said to her once.
I want her back. I want everything back, the way it was. But there is no point to it, this wanting.