Tomorrow my mom leaves to go back to Michigan. What can I say? It was probably the craziest of crazy things for me to do: purchase a house with my mom and live with her. I’m going to confess and say that I had some real reservations about the whole thing, both about my mom and even my own motivations. To illuminate things, let me say that my family is Vietnamese, and I would say we had a fairly conservative childhood with them. I think the primary motivating factor for all of the children ( my older brother R.I.P. I love you forever man, my sister, and myself ) was to move out and away from the controlling presence of my parents.
Have you ever seen platoon? Its a great movie, but there is a fantastic line at the end of the movie where the main character contemplates who his father was, and if the resolution was ever resolved. I have felt this same push/pull dynamic in myself. In alot of ways, I think the struggle was between how my relationship with my mom once was, and how it was today. I’ll be honest and say that I was probably holding onto that relationship from the past for my own reasons. The naive five-year old and the infuriated fifteen-year old in me constantly clinging to these old ways, from both comfort and nursed resentment. But, as the saying goes, You can never go home. I used to think that just meant change: change in your neighborhood, change in your age, change in your friends. Now I know that it means everything. I can never go back to before the car accident, I can never go back before my brother died, I can never go back. My relationships had already changed for good or for ill, and I had yet to recognize it.
I couldn’t have seen it any clearer, than one night while me and my mom were studying Vietnamese together. She was trying to explain some word to me, and we just started laughing. I remember looking at her, and just feeling so guileless and empty of feeling. It sounds so cheesy, but I just looked at her face while we were laughing and realized that we could never have done this before. Even now, I can’t really articulate what I was feeling. Its so bizarre to think of your parent as your equal, to have this give and take that only equals can feel. Not to say I don’t respect my mom, but its more like we both respect each other, and we KNOW that we respect each other.
I don’t know, maybe this makes no sense at all, but I’m going to miss my mom. Not because she does my laundry, but she is my friend, and I’m going to miss doing my Vietnamese lessons with her.