I actually feel a bit depressed.
Lunch turned into the hanky waving tearfest I knew it would. Ma surpassed herself this time. She dredged up shit from the last thirty years including her stretchmarks (Etheline's fault, bigger than average baby), not being able to carry on her career (my eldest sister's fault and our father), her depression, panic attacks, high blood pressure, weight gain (my fault), her certainty that she is about to have a stroke/cancer/brain haemorrhage ( my brother's fault), her 'suicidal thoughts' (everyone)
She bemoaned the fact that nobody cared for her. She wondered aloud why this might be, after all, had she not bled for us, did she not give us life? Was that not enough? What about the scarifices? Her youth, her body, her mind? Why did we wish to hurt her?
On and she went.
By the time we had finished our main course I was wistfully thinking of those halcyon days when we didn't talk at all. Five whole years of blissful silence. Oh sure, she tried to get Etheline to pass messages along. Vicious twisted barbed messages she knew to be hurtful, designed to inflict pain. But what did I care, once we didn't have to talk her feeble arrows did not penetrate my newly liberated hide. And Etheline-to her credit- refused to be a pawn.
If only my eldest sister had been content to live 'in sin' for all her days and not hankered after a wedding. If only.
Naturally, as both my mother and I were attending, a peace treaty had been brokered, a weak spirited, unwanted set of terms adhered to and voila, she was back in. We were connected once again. The silken webs of maternal duty had engulfed me and I was drawn back into the web of family.
By dessert she was a frigate in full sail, her cheeks were pumped up, her eyes shiny with indignation and self pity.
How was she to hold her head up? Everyone would talk. Not that she had a PROBLEM with this new daughter-in-law being BLACK! Oh no, it wasn't THAT. But what would people say? Why had my brother DONE this to her? Why did we not TELL her? (she refuses to accept that we didn't know either and thinks it is some kind of conspiracy)Who was this girl? Wht KIND of person marries on the sly like that?
On and on. I refused dessert, Etheline had cheesecake and picked at it miserably, my mother had the creme brulee, 'even though it will probably give me heartburn all day'
I ordered a coffee.
'You drink too much of that muck.' My mother said. 'It rots your insides.'
I closed my eyes.
Fuck off. I said in my head. I opened my eyes again, Etheline was watching me, her whole face was saying 'Don't do it.'
I trembled. If I just said it and walked out I might get another five years out of it, maybe longer...
Etheline pressed my foot under the table with hers.
MY mother wittered on, oblivious.
So I didn't say it. I didn't say it and because I didn't say it I have condemned myself to more of this torture for a while. But I know me, I know my limits. And she, that narcissistic hypochondriac excuse of a mother, is going to over step them any day now.
After lunch Etheline and I wandered back into town, we went to a bar we know where the seats are comfortable, the lights low and it doesn't attract a trendy crowd. We sat down and ordered beer, something we don't normally drink. We drank beer until we forgot/supressed most of the afternoon.
It took a while.