Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What Obtains

Tomorrow is my mom's 91st birthday. And I am not there. I want to be with her, but I also seem to be straightjacketed by a kind of inertia, a mystifying inability to make the decision, book the flight, pack a weekend bag, go to the airport, get there. I get stopped by the money, even though I tell myself it's only money, and money can't compare to being in the company of your mother on her 91st birthday. But the truth is, I don't have the money. And then I think about the layoffs coming at my job, "the largest in memory" according to the newspaper article that reported on it a week ago, causing a flurry of forwarded emails in the office and nervous speculation in corners. I worry about being away from my post when the pink slips rain down. But really, would visiting my mother be the deal breaker, the thing that caused them to fire me? I'm either already on that list or I've escaped one more time. Taking time off the go see my mother has no bearing. And yet here I am, the day before her birthday, and clearly I won't be there. I will be here, feeling guilty and castigating myself for not moving the little anthills that needed moving in order for me to get there. And she will be in her chair, looking out at the hills and making excuses for me. And all of it just makes me want to put my head down on my desk and curse my inertia and lack of imagination and cry.

Let me say instead I loved President Obama's inauguration speech, especially his invoking Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall, and all that signified about where he is putting his attention in his second term. We watched the pomp and ceremony from our living room with friends, over tea and three kinds of scones that my husband made: vanilla raisin, parmesan shallot, and cheddar jalapeno. I watched all day into the evening, even after our friends left and my husband had gone in to bed. I watched the Obamas dance and sing to each other, the First Lady resplendent in red, the President gallant and more comfortable in her arms than at any other point during that day, and then they exited stage left, their obligations discharged, finally able to go home and really celebrate with the family, and each other, before the new day dawned, and it was just business as usual, with the red-staters chiming no at every turn, and the second term president finally understanding that they will not work with him, they will never work with him, he will need to work around them. I like the new set of his jaw.  


  1. Yes, and I love that last sentence. I will repeat it when I hear of any naysaying from any side. "We'll have to work around them -- or you -- " I'll say.

    As for your job and your mother and missing her birthday, oy. I'm sorry. I recently went away with my dearest friends and only did so because someone sent me a plane ticket, so I completely understand your waffling on whether or not to go. I think if you'd gone and something HAD happened with your job, you would have felt guilty, and your mother IS in your heart and you are in hers.

  2. What Elizabeth said. :) Your mother's birthday is just one day, perhaps you can see her soon when your life is less in flux. If you survive the cut, maybe you celebrate with that plane ticket. If you don't, maybe you need a retirement gift to yourself. Things will hopefully sort out, life, money, the next four years, and so on.
    Wishing you were there with here and not here beating yourself up. I know so well about those quandries.

  3. Sending good mojo as the pink slips rain down that you will remain unscathed and birthday wishes to your nonagenerian mom. x0 N2

  4. Mothers and daughters and guilt and aging and birthdays and money.
    Yes. Hmmm.
    I think I understand all of this perfectly.
    And I am so, so sorry you're going through this. Believe. I wish none of us were.

  5. Ah, sometimes I think that we were not supposed to be spread all willy-nilly around the planet. It hurts to be separated from the people that are woven into our hearts.

  6. If you can't visit today, you can tomorrow. Maybe you can plan a trip that won't be quite as expensive as a last-minute ticket.

    I hope the pink slips don't come your way, but if they do, rest assured that life continues! In a good way!

  7. this is such a wrenching post, angella. you are such a good daughter. i agree with steve; you'll go soon. do the thing for cheap tickets, buy them when they are more reasonable, let your mother know when you're coming, then put it aside. if they do lay you off, promise me the first thing you do is buy that plane ticket. and you must know in your heart that chances are high they won't lay you off.

  8. Be kind to yourself, dear Angella. You'll get back there. You will.