I made a mistake. It’s made me a bit sad, though that sadness might have come anyway or been there already. It’s not often that I regret something, but I made a decision yesterday that I wish I’d made differently. I’m not sure I was wrong—maybe it was necessary to realize some things and feel some of emotions I generally pack away and ignore in attempts to protect myself.
My mother came to Vancouver on Monday, a place she always wanted to visit. She put me up as nicely as Alys did, in a room with airplane-like views over the city. We went to Victoria for a jaunt, and returned to an even more lush room. It was lovely. Lovely to see her and spend time together in such a wonderful city. I knew my first day there that I wanted to extend my stay a few days, though it wouldn’t give me much time to settle in before work and the semester began.
I couldn’t change my flight back, though I tried several avenues, so we scrambled to get everything I really wanted to see in. Mom was staying until Sunday regardless, and I was out yesterday (Friday), very early in the a.m. I packed Thursday night, a ritual that for me has some finality in it, and we got up at 5:45. And I was off.
At the airport, I tried one last time, and this time, for a $100 fee, they would put me on the same flight Sunday morning. “Okay!” I said, but as she clicked away at her computer I doubted myself. This is what I wanted. But I’d have to go schlep back to town. Another taxi? Or was the shuttle running now? Annoying. I’d have to unpack and repack in two days. I have to catch up on my sleep during the day, and do this all over again Sunday morning—even earlier, as Ma’s flight required we leave at 4:30am. And what about my apartment? Would have time to clean and get it all back together and rest and see people before work and classes on Tuesday? I was at the airport now. It was easy. And going back to the hotel seemed somehow like going back. Running back to Ma. Something I’ve never been able to do, and never felt comfortable with. So I asked if I could still take this flight. The very sweet agent (will I ever meet one again? Perhaps only in Canada) told me it was all up to me. So I left. I forgot how much I wanted to take in Vancouver, relax with my mother, and enjoy that gorgeous view, and did what seemed easiest and most sensible at that second.
I cried. I cried in the airport. And more on the plane. I filled an airsickness bag with used tissues and embarrassed the man two seats over with my silent sobs that lasted over half the flight to Chicago. I cried about the fear in my decision. I cried about my desire to be close to Momka, but afraid of her sometimes-suffocating love that I’ve built stone walls of defensiveness and criticism to protect myself from. I cried because my walls are designed to protect me from love, from suffocating love, and I’m not sure how to open them only enough to let a safe amount in—and out. “I NEED MY SPACE!” Oh, that old refrain! I cried because I am learning how to do this, how to see my mother for who she is and how to accept her love as she’s able to give it. I cried because this isn’t yet strong enough in me to know I could safely spend those two extra days with her that I so wanted to spend, gently being with this new awareness. I cried because I don’t know the next time I’ll have the chance. I cried because the “adult” part of me shuts out love and made the decision out of fear, not out of a true responsibility to myself and to love. I cried because the “adult” part of me that is tough and independent is partly a reaction to this relationship and is truly rigid, self-protective and afraid. I cried for the part of me that longs to be taken cared of. I cried because I was going home to New York and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be there. I cried because it was Jimmy’s birthday. I cried for my family.
I cried for every countless time I got on an airplane and left, and wouldn’t let myself feel the pain.
I wish I hadn’t gone, and it’s not often I do that. Linger. She’s in her hotel room now, going to bed early for her early morning flight. I hope she got out and enjoyed the city on her own. I hope I can be good to her and appreciate how sweet and intelligent and interested in life she is. I hope I’m faced with such a split-second decision again, and that I make my decision—to stay or to leave—in confidence and in love.