Everything changes but when you’re young, you don’t know that. Even though I grew up in a city where an art supply store could become a fast food place and a parking lot converted into an apartment building over ten stories high, I still believed some things would stay the same. Or go back to how they were before my mother married an emotionally and verbally abusive man. We’d been so happy before the marriage. Okay. I was so happy before the marriage, and I just knew our lives would go back to what they were as soon as it was just the two of us again.
Only it didn’t and, really, it wasn’t the two of us for very long.
We moved twice within a short timeframe and ended up on the Upper East Side. A family friend of set my mother up on a blind date with a man he knew from group therapy, a man who would be perfect for my mother. He wasn’t the first man she dated after the first marriage ended. There was another man who still lived with his mother and couldn’t spend the night because his mother would worry. Okay. He wasn’t a man but he was old enough to be one even though he didn’t act like one. He didn’t last long. My mother may not have been fully recovered from the damage to her self-esteem abuse causes but she had enough emotional strength to end a dead end relationship when she was in one.
The blind date was a welcome distraction from her life of work and home and more work and home. It was love at first sight. For my mother it was, anyway. She loved him. She adored him. She was mad for him. She lost weight, bought new clothes, and did things to show her love for this new man. She laid construction paper hearts from the elevator to our apartment door when she knew he was coming to pick her up for another date, eventually spending weekends with him, dragging me along with her. She learned to cook fancy meals, using wine to flavor meats and side dishes, adding soufflés and escargot to her repertoire.
I hated the new food and the boring town in New Jersey. We would leave Friday evening and not return until Monday morning, her heading to work and me heading to school.
It didn’t take me long to realize that my expectations about how things would be were very wrong. Things couldn’t go back to the way they were because I was older. Needless to say, my mother didn’t want things to go back to the way they were because, as you may recall, she was miserable back then. So she wouldn’t want things to go back to how I expected them to be.
I don’t know if I expected it to last for long. By this time I’d seen my mother date a man named Andrew (he had a motorcycle) and another named David (he was the one with the houseboat). She had married and divorced and dated and dumped two other men. I didn’t expect this man to be around for very long.
Seven years later, they married and, as I write this, they are preparing to leave for Sicily to celebrate their 30th anniversary. She loved him and continues to love him which is how I lost my mother the first time she got married and I lost her again the last time she fell in love.