Twenty-Two

I think about my mom a lot. Mostly, I think about who she was when she was my age. When my mom was twenty-two, she had a two year old child and a fiance. When my mom was eighteen, she left school and moved to California. I think she lived in Arizona for a bit too.  I’m not sure. She told me that Top Gun was shot just down the street from where she lived and that the children on her block always wanted to hear about snow. I think she had a few different jobs – a clothing store, a grocery store and a telemarketer. Her hair was big and wild and she dressed in over sized clothing that somehow fit perfectly on her small frame – at least that’s what the pictures show. I think she lived with my uncle in California while he was in the military. Maybe her and her cousin shared a home. I don’t really know.  Every time she tells the story, it’s a little different. I imagine her driving a red convertable across the country. The car suits her in my mind. I’m not sure she ever mentioned what kind of car she had. I think the details are hazy partially because of time but partially because some details are for her memory only. Eventually she made her way back to Iowa. She had a little boy that needed to wear casts on his feet because when he walked, his feet turned inward. The casts were off when he carried the rings down the aisle. Her wedding dress had sleeves as puffy as her hair.

My mom doesn’t know how to use a smartphone. Or the internet unless you give her step-by-step instructions. One time, she forgot to turn off the car before going into Wal-Mart. She wears my hand-me-downs and items from the sale racks because instead of buying her own clothes, she spends her money on us. She takes care of the dying and stays in every night, reading devotionals. Once in awhile, my dad will take her on a weekend trip. She hates crowds and big events.

She confuses and astounds me every single day. I call her more often than I need too, sometimes I have nothing to say at all, but I’m hoping I’ll catch a glimpse of her past selves. One of my favorite poems says that with every birthday, we just add a new layer. We never stop being a certain age, that age just gets a little more buried. Like, I’m twenty-two, but when I can’t sleep it feels a lot like when I was five and needed the comfort of my parent’s bedroom floor. I really want to see my mom at twenty-two. I think we are both a little scared.

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