My Mom Walks into a Bar
January 11, 2013 § 8 Comments
Leigh Ann and I go out for a drink, and my mom is sitting at the bar. Ok, not my real mom, but my mom as she was at say, twenty-seven. She introduces herself, of course. She is platinum blonde with blue eyes, and she is short. “My husband is interviewing for an Orthopedic internship,” she says. “In Texas, spouses go to all the dinners, but here, they said no one had ever asked to bring a spouse. Isn’t that funny?” Not to me, not in this era, I think. But I don’t say so.
Leigh Ann, who inherited my mom’s love of talking to strangers, strikes up a conversation. I sit back and sip my wine and listen. The wine is making me sleepy, and this young woman is becoming my mother the more she talks. “We want to have more kids,” she says. “We have two, but we’re both thinking four. I don’t know why that is the number.”
“I’m the fourth child,” I volunteer. “My parents were crazy to have five children, but I’m kind of glad they did. Still, crazy.”
“I just love the chaos of a big family,” she says. “People coming and going all the time!” This is my mother. Now I see her young hope, her faith in the future, her stupid and beautiful and never-ending confidence in my dad’s ability to take care of her. Don’t do it, I think. There will be no nanny. No housekeeper either. That is so many people to raise. There will be so much debt. Live your own life. Still, I admire her ability to trust.
“My mom’s watching the kids,” she says. “She told me not to drink too much.” She orders another glass of wine. My mother, wherever she is, is having a good laugh.
Leigh Ann and my mom keep talking, I sit and sip. What year is this? I think. “I can’t stay in the hotel,” Mom says. “I like to talk to people. My husband doesn’t say anything unless you ask him. He knows a lot, though.” So it’s complete.
My mom and dad, young and hopeful, moved to St. Louis for his medical residency. They already had two children. My sister Katie and I were born there, the third and fourth, in the midst of all that possibility.
I am tired from the first week of school, so I go home, but I leave Leigh Ann talking to Mom. I’m glad I’ve gotten this glimpse of her at this point in her life: young, beautiful, ridiculously optimistic about the future. Who knows where she will turn up next?