buy me that.

mom doesn't go out much. i don't know why. she'll go to work every now and then, go to the grocery store, go to church, but that's all. sometimes, she goes out with a coworker for lunch. other than that, she spends most of her time in front of the tv, or else on the couch while reading a book. i don't think there's anything wrong with that. but i do sense that she's sorely unhappy. i'm not exactly sure what she wants. i know she wants to retire, but then she'll have all the spare time she already has now. and that, i don't think, will really do her any good.

her sister travels to europe every now and then. her other sister sometimes flies to the south to visit her daughter. mom sometimes talks about going to the philippines, but never actually goes. i think that being back there depresses her, makes her think of a time when things were good. there was hardship and there was struggle, but there was also a greater sense of community and family. here, i think she is lost, and has no sense of what those two things are anymore.

mom lost her mom when she was very young, maybe five or six years old. her dad died when she was in her twenties. i always wished that i had gotten to meet them. mom came from a large family, two brothers and four sisters. the two brothers, junior and leleng, are gone, and one sister, mami aging (sp?) is also deceased. it must have been difficult to leave all of them behind, and come to a new country that praises all the luxuries and extravagance the old world lacked. maybe when she left, she always imagined that she would come back, but now, there is nothing to come home to. she has my dad, a lanky, eccentric man who watches whitney houston videos on youtube and wears a face mask when he cuts weeds with his weed whacker. she has me, her only son, who types on the computer all day and sings songs with his guitar in his bedroom. i wonder if this is enough for her. i wish i could give her more, but i have no idea what she needs.

she told me that she went to see a therapist at work, but she felt like the therapist wasn't listening, so she stopped attending. i told her that she could've gone to see another therapist instead, but she didn't want to. maybe she feels like no one is listening. i should try harder. sometimes, when i am blogging, she'll ask me something, and my automatic response is, "yeah," even when the correct response is no. for example, today she asked, "did you go to amoeba?" "yeah," i said. then i stopped typing and actually thought about what she had asked me. "oh, no," i said. i had meant to go to amoeba, since my aunt gave me money, but the stores had closed by the time i dropped her off at the hotel.

sometimes i feel like mom and i really connect. we'll discuss our shared anti-consumerist views, and talk about the corporate takeover of our country. she even likes the arcade fire. but then, on occasion, she'll ruin everything by complaining about how we don't have enough money to fix the blinds, how she wants a bigger house, etc. and it's during these outbursts that i begin to believe i don't understand her at all. i know i should be more forgiving, more compassionate and understanding, but sometimes it's really hard. sometimes she takes her frustration out on me, and i get ultra-defensive.

a friend recently assessed my parents' relationship with me by saying, "i think that they thought they could just buy you stuff and send you to a good school and that you'd be fine. they never really showed you any real affection." the truth hit me, and it hit me hard. i realized that she was absolutely right. maybe this is the way it is with all people, but maybe most people don't let it get to them as much. often, i hear my parents conversing in tagalog at the dinner table. my dad calls her from work every night at around 8:45 p.m. when the phone rings, she knows instinctively that it's him. "it's pops," she'll say. maybe they are still in love. how do they keep it going, keep it together? does one suffer more than the other?

i think about tom and renee, our neighbors across the street. after twenty years together in the same house, they finally called it quits, and renee has slowly been moving her stuff out of the house. according to the kids, it was an abusive relationship, and it was "about time" that renee got out of there. the kids (well, they're no longer kids) seem to be doing fine. they still have their parties and they still act like their normal, happy selves.

recently, we went to visit meagan's old apartment, where she once lived with her mom and dad. she was three years old when they split, and they left the apartment forever. no one told her that they were getting a divorce, and no one told her that when they were leaving the apartment, they were, in fact, leaving for good. she pointed to the window in the rear and said, "that used to be my bedroom." i looked up and saw a blue stuffed animal hanging by the window. "i used to play in those dumpsters," she said. i made her take a picture of me standing next to the dumpsters.

i wondered about the three year old girl she used to be, and how she must have heard her parents continually arguing. i thought about what it's like to finally realize that it's over. is there sadness? is there relief? which person suffered more? maybe some people are just better at moving on and getting over things more than others.

i know i'm not one of them. i don't think mom is, either.

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