Sometime between yesterday and today, I set myself the goal of blogging every day until Christmas. I don't know why this goal seems so pressing and important—but there I was, snuggled down in my flannel sheets, just on that delicious edge of consciousness when you know sleep is about to overtake you and there is absolutely nothing in the world that could stop you from slipping under:
except remembering that I hadn't blogged yet.
This thing that has been swirling around in my head has nothing to do with Christmas. Mostly. It has to do with memory, though, which seems to me is a main component to the Christmas spirit. Here is the memory:
It's May or June, and I am pissed. I'm 18, and I'm like a puzzle: torn into bits but finally starting to put myself together for real. This new structure I am forming is taking a different shape, both figuratively and literally, and my friends aren't altogether fond of it. I'm no longer needed. Actually, I'm sort of embarrassing, and that is the thing that's got me pissed: My second-best friend, whom I've forgiven for puking on my favorite steel-toed boots, covered for with her mom, and held secrets for that I've still never told anyone, bought tickets for the Depeche Mode concert—but not one for me. As she was going with my used-to-be boyfriend, this is an obvious message: she's not sleeping with him (unless that is a secret she never told) but he is her new best friend, no "second" about it.
As I had in the past when I was angry, I hopped in my car and turned on some music. Angry driving is best done accompanied by The Cult, of course, preferably "Wild Flower" as loud as possible. Only, in this brave new world I've entered, my mom, instead of my best friend, is in the car with me. There are many perks to having your mom around—not having to worry about finding quarters under the floor mats to use as gas money is a big one—but loud punk music is not one of them. As I watched her hand reach for the dial and actually turn down my music, I realized just how far I had come in my transformation: angry music might never soothe again.
I think this memory has been so vivid because I've had the chance to hang out with Haley more than usual lately. Sometimes when we're driving around, and she's got her radio station on, I can remember nearly exactly how it felt to drive around aimlessly with your friend, how the world seemed full of possibility that could surprise you at the very next corner (because, back then, it was and it did). How you knew your friend understood what you needed, wanted, thought, and felt because you assumed she needed, wanted, thought, and felt the same things. How the perfect song on the radio would feel like karma and angels and all the planets aligning to create that very perfect moment. Only a best friend can bring that sort of joy.
Except, I can't remember it at all, really, that joy. So much has happened since I was last that girl in the passenger seat next to my best friend driving nowhere important. My perspective has skewed and knowledge slid across my vision in nearly-transparent layers that block me from feeling that wild hopefulness. As the mother (instead of the best friend) I know what perils hide in those limitless possibilities and how the loss of a best friend, second- or otherwise, is a wound that is some ways worse than any other—how that friend, by holding your dreams, your thoughts, your desires and despairs and secrets in the cup of her hand also cradles power, too. Sharp, wounding power. All she has to do is drop them or, worse, scatter them with her breath.
I suppose mothers hold our daughters' hopes, despairs and secrets, too. We could wield them like a power if we wanted. But while we lack the ability to create the experiences that best friends do, we have something more gentle and perhaps more enduring. We put gas in the car and slushies in the cup holders and a permanence into their world. We might turn down the radio but we aren't going anywhere.
I find myself at this unexpected crossroads. Well, I am not there yet, exactly, but I can see it coming up ahead. Haley, my daughter, my girl who nearly shares my birthday but is not myself reborn (she is so much stronger than that), is nearly grown. What will our relationship feel like as she speeds out into the world without me in the passenger seat? I hope I can continue being the permanent thing in her world. I hope that, whatever betrayals she experiences, they don't come from me; that I can be the place she comes home to.