Thursday, June 7, 2012

on the power of two

The summer after my sophomore year of high school was the summer of me and my mom.  The year before had been rough and the years after would prove tricky, but that summer, those few months, we were settled, relaxed, and had started to understand the new world that was life after the end of the nuclear family.  It wasn’t perfect, that new world.  I grew up a bit too quickly, knew too much about the inner workings of my parents' marriage and divorce, but she was mine.  It was during this time that I started to joke that I had become the proud parent of a 46 year-old divorcee: every Sunday I moved from one place to the other and we parented each other, grew up together, she was mine.

It was a year of firsts.  The first time my mom did the grocery shopping she called me from the payphone outside King Kullen to tell me how proud she was.  The dinner that night may have been a pint of Cherry Garcia and some spaghetti with a jar of sauce*, but she had done it.  In the years before the divorce my Dad had been the grocery shopper, the most nights of the week dinner maker, and always the highway driver.  I remember the first time she drove the two of us out to my grandmother’s on the North Fork.  The merge onto the LIE from Deer Park Avenue was something she never had to do in that old life of her and my Dad, me and my brother.  In this new life the responsibility was hers, I was too young to drive, and instead of staying home and accepting that she was scared, we did it.  She picked me up from lifeguarding class on a cloudless Friday afternoon, windows down, Indigo Girls blasting, and we merged.  I loosened the seatbelt and turned all the way around to get a better view.

“Slow down, not yet, slow, slow, ok go go go merge merge merge!” 

She slammed her foot on the gas and it felt metaphorical even in that minute, even then with no presence of afterthought to help it along.  I knew as we sped through the cars with the volume up and our voices blending with the wind from the open sun roof that we were going to be ok.  I knew we had passed some test, some sort of challenge for how we were going to move through this new world.  And we would do it together.  We didn’t always play nice or fair, there would be plenty of angry hang ups and emails and words we wished to take back along the way, but she was, will always be, mine. 

" all the ghosts from your head,                    
I'm stronger than the monster beneath your bed,
smarter than the tricks played on your heart.
We'll look at them together then we'll take them apart,
adding up the total of a love that's true,
multiply life by the power of two..."

*disclaimer:  The Ben & Jerry's for dinner years were short lived. 


  1. I love the part about you getting in the car and merging, because I could just see the two of you. xoxo

  2. i am so grateful that you added the disclaimer(chicken cutlets and chicken divan came along)-but unfortunately,nothing beats depression like the boys-ben and gerry! beautiful honey-and i never merge without thinking of you-