Thursday, October 8, 2015

Promises Again

This is the same story as told in: "It's Been Five Days Since You Left, But We're Still Here and You're Not and It Is So Quiet."  But, I sought help from Kevin McGeehan and this is how it evolved. I just wanted to put it out into the world beyond the one storytelling event I was brave enough to enter. Which was my event. I produced it. So, not really all that brave.

A different take on the same event:

When my daughter was 10 days old, I promised I would never leave her. 18 years later as I stood in her dorm room, I’m about to break that promise.

There are six of us in this tiny space: proud grandparents, anxious parents, Hannah-the-Freshman, and Talia-the-supportive-little-sister who is singlehandedly organizing what appears to be a closet. Everyone is shoving “necessary” items wherever they could fit, except for me. Overwhelmed by debilitating fear I was rendered useless in this chaotic room. I just stood clutching my favorite pair of Hannah’s shoes. All motherly devotion had been irrationally transferred onto these shoes. My crushing heartbreak was mostly repressed until Hannah’s new roommate, Christine, pitched into the room, drunk. No longer was this a room of sweet chaos, it was a stunned room of Christine’s boobs spilling out of her tiny tank top and white cheeks peeking from the bottom of her shorts.

Christine squealed “HANNAH!!!” and lunged forward on her stiletto’s to give Hannah an insincere hug.

I backed against the desk clutching the precious shoes. Christine was the embodiment of every parental nightmare: a partying freshman roommate.

Not knowing what to do, I did what I do best. I froze. This was not my first time lost in motherhood.

When Hannah was a week old she got an audition for a commercial from my husband’s agent. At the time we were actor’s living in L.A. Hannah booked the job and at ten days old shot a national commercial.

She was fabulous during the casting; alert, quiet. Perfect. On the day of the shoot though, she wouldn’t stop screaming. I didn’t know what to do, so I just stood there, frozen, listening to her cry and wincing at every dirty look from…everyone.

After what felt like a few years had passed, the director called to “remove the crier” and a disgusted assistant director handed her over. I grabbed her, ran out and begged her to forgive me. I didn’t rescue her. I’m the Mom and I blew it. When her gasping sobs stopped, I held her out to look at her scrunched up little face. I swear she smiled at me. I stopped breathing for a second. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. “I promise I will never leave you.” I swore this would be my last mistake as Mom.

18 years of mistakes later, the day has come to move out of her childhood home into her freshman dorm. On the sidewalk in front of our house a sobbing Hannah could not let go of Andrew, the-stunned-soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend. About to attend universities in separate states, it didn’t look good for the long run.

Hannah and Andrew dated during senior year and, of course, he asked her to the prom. Hannah bought her dress with her own money, a sparkling, soft pink, strapless gown. It cost four times what I was willing to pay for a prom dress.

I paid for the shoes, and because Andrew is not tall, Hannah, in a shocking turn from her usual death defying high heels, was determined to wear flats. We found a pair of Steve Madden sandals with rhinestones imbedded in clear plastic straps and a beige plastic sole. They looked pretty cheap in the box. But when she put them on the clear plastic straps disappeared and the sparkles wrapped  around her feet as if held on by magic. They were the most beautiful shoes I’ve ever seen.

I borrowed them once and even my gnarly old feet looked beautiful.  For a moment Hannah and I shared these pretty, pretty shoes. In a moment I must relinquish the girl and her memory of the promise of a sweet dance in beautiful shoes with a handsome boy.

Back in the dorm room the shoes seem cemented in my fist. The perfect place to leave them didn’t exist. Christine might want to borrow them. Christine could ruin the shoes.  

Of the two girls who are about to live in this dorm, I love one so very much, but I relate to one of them so much more.  I was Christine when I was 18. I knew this enemy. It used to be me.

Okay, new plan: throw a bag over Hannah’s head, push her into the car, go home, make popcorn and watch all ten seasons of Friends. She cannot spend a year with the slut on stilts.

Without having looked at anyone other than Hannah, Christine slurred “Nice to meet you” to the room in general and was gone as fast as she came.

Watching Christine leave I realized I had little control over this situation. I probably never had control over any situation ever. Because I am only Mom. Not God.

18 years ago I had no idea she would be the one to leave.

I stepped on the printer to climb over the mini-refrigerator and sat next to her on the long, single bed. I reluctantly handed her our pretty, pretty shoes. “Please. Stay. Strong.  Do not lend these to Christine. I would like to see them again.” Hannah just laughed, “Mom, the shoes and I can both stand up to Christine.”

Our time was almost up. “If you ever need anything Hannah, you can always come crying to me. I’m think I'm ready for you now. “

Out in parking lot the proud grandparents drove away first. The sobbing, mascara stained sisters clung to each other as our existing world changed forever. There was nothing my husband and I could do to ease their pain. We could only stand aside and watch. Eventually he and Talia drove away leaving me alone with Hannah.

What I wanted to say to my pair of beautiful girls was, “I promise I will learn to let you go.”

What I actually said was “Take your vitamins and be gentle when you break up with Andrew.”

College, it’s the real world transition for the parents, not just the kids.

Shoes pictured are not actual size. Or the actual pair mentioned in post. Just really pretty and very similar to aforementioned sandals.