Sally and The Nail Salon
The last time I took my mother to get our nails done was around this same time last year. Before we went in, we sat in my car crying our eyes out for what felt like eternity. You know, just like normal people. Just a good ol’ parking lot cry. When everything sucks but you have to keep functioning so you try to fill your day with errands to keep you busy. You make yourself get up and take yourself outside of your gross, soggy, tissue-filled bed in an effort to feel better, but that little rain cloud of guilt and grief and worry and heartache just follows you around and into stores and salons and post offices until finally you are sobbing and shooting snot out of your face when an innocent, unsuspecting cashier asks you if you “found everything you were looking for”.
NO, JAMES, I DID NOT FIND EVERYTHIING I WAS LOOKING FOR!
Insert thirty crying emojis.
Sometimes I try to sit and write about my feelings for my mother and it is so overwhelming how much I love her and how similar we are and how bonded to her I feel that I cannot do it in one take, or one page, one book, or even in one lifetime. I have zero adequate human words to describe what she means to me.
The same goes for my father and my brothers. I love them all an impossible amount.
But, THIS IS SALLY’S TIME.
I honestly could explain her better in bursts of color and waves of intense joy and laughter and lots of happy tears and beautiful, messy scribbles. And if I had access to one, a choir of angels would be harmonizing in the background except they’d be farting their notes instead of singing because it would make Sally silent cry-wheeze-laugh so hard until she peed her pants. My mother is love and compassion and giggles and empathy and through her I have felt the most of what I think I can comprehend of what I think I believe and feel God might be.
So, yea, my love and awe for her is pretty intense so I wont even try to encompass all of her into the few words I know how to use and spell.
So, instead, I will share her in little snippets.
We sat in the parking lot of a strip mall during the off-season of a touristy beach town on a rainy day. Days where I should have probably been working and saving my money but I drove out to see my parents because I felt like I was dying or would die if I didn’t have something solid to cling to soon. If I didn’t remind myself that I still have a home and a place.
It’s insane how alone and misplaced you can feel sometimes even knowing in the back of your head how many people you have in your life. Reaching out to those people and touching base with whatever home you hold in your heart is imperative during what feels like an impossible time in your life. Go to them, they are always waiting for you.
I’m already re-sobbing thinking about them. My family.
We bicker and gang up on each other sometimes and have our own elephants and trigger topics in the room. And, you know, sometimes we have to move far away from each other, but overall we love each other real big and typically have a fantastic, obnoxious, loud, goofy, animated time together. We would be a solid apocalyptic team or at least have a dangerously hilarious time playing a ridiculous custom made drinking game until the world ended. At some point (after we looted the liquor store, obviously) we would be daring each other to lasso a zombie while blindfolded, wearing Hawaiian shirts and cowboy hats as the rest of the team shouted out directions to navigate the chosen one into catching the thing. Like a drunken, ice breaking, team bonding activity. Actually, my oldest brother, Will, would probably sweet talk the zombies into taking shots and playing cards with us and then convince them to open up an account with him. The line about being able to sell a ketchup popsicle to a lady in white gloves, yea, that’s him. But more on him another time, back to Our Queen, Sally.
We sat in my car and I’m sure I started word vomiting and venting out of nowhere. I was deeply submerged in the struggle of wanting to leave something but being torn between my innate nature to stay and love and fix. She watched me blubber and cry and I watched her heart break for me. A mother watching her child emotionally crumble and mentally and physically destroy herself for someone. She watched my soul flicker like a flashlight that has one dying battery, or a lamp with the prongs slightly slipping out of the socket. And I watched her watching me and I could feel her arms around me and her hot tears hit my shoulders as mine hit hers. I could feel her mind flailing to figure out how to keep me safe but also how to give me space to figure it out. Motherhood. What a mind fuck. I don’t know how you all do it and I hope to one day be as strong and lovely and resilient and beautiful and patient as the best of you are every single day.
My mother said some words to me that I will never forget. The words she said were a gift for me. They are mine and I still want to keep them all to myself and in a way I feel like it is a betrayal to our bond to just repeat them loosely to outsiders. People that are not us, people that were not there. She probably doesn’t even remember what she said, but her words are sacred to me and they are words that not only helped me make my decision but they catapulted me into a new level of understanding Sally – the mother, the wife, the lover, and the human.
When I was younger, I used to think my mother was being weak when I thought I saw her being walked on or eating other people’s shit. But, I have learned only recently that she wasn’t eating it, she was rising above it, or just completely ignoring it because it wasn’t her problem that people were being turds – it was theirs. She was well aware people were being big, dumb poopheads. And still she said, “I LOVE YOU ANYWAY, YA IDIOTS”. I look back on my mother in a new light, and I am overwhelmed with how much she has lived selflessly and loved the shit out of people. And threw young eyes I pitied her at times, but I am realizing now I am one of those idiots. My mother doesn’t need hand holding. And she doesn’t need me scolding her on how to live her life, which I have been guilty of doing at times. She is the strongest, godliest, most resilient, loving, compassionate, most selfless person I know. She loves and gives to others because she chooses to, not because she has to. And dammit, none of you can take that away from her. Her decision to love you. And she will be bashful and humble and deny all of this, but I’ve seen it with my own eyes over my thirty years. Sally is a fucking champion. And even if I’m exaggerating because I’m biased and love her – she’s still my hero, my fearless leader, my role model, my Queen and everything I want to be when it comes to life and love.
Like, on top of being adorable and silly and loving everyone and sending EVERYONE care packages and being able to talk to even a damn mime, this woman literally takes all of yours and your children’s names and puts them in her “prayer bubble”. I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING. I don’t even know how she remembers us all or fits us all in. And she always, always makes room for more. SHE IS LEGIT.
I will never fully understand with my limited human brain how big her love is for me, or be able to retrace all the times she saved me without me realizing it. But this time, on that day, I felt it. Her jumping in the choppy water and pulling me to shore.
In my metaphor there is a swim up bar with half priced drinks, a hot dog stand, and a puppy park on the beach. Because Sally knows how to keep it real and she always finds the best deals.
I don’t have the words to poetically describe her or my lifelong gratitude. So today, we are getting our nails and hair done. We are going to seventeen thrift stores and maybe a movie and I am going to bask in the light that is my Mother. And whatever tears are shed today, we are at least gonna look fancy AF, and this time, the tears will be joyful ones, or the ones you get when you binge watch animal rescue shows, because..we doin’ that.
Mom, I love you more than all the things and more than all the things that have yet to even be a thing. You are the tops. I am so proud to be your daughter. I am so honored to know you and be graced by your light and beauty and love. I hope and pray I end up being even half the human you are. No matter how busy my brothers and I all get in our little lives, please don’t ever go to sleep at night thinking you are not absolutely adored and appreciated. Thank you so much for everything.
I was gonna just send you a letter but I figured one of us would spill something on it.