My Mother’s House
My mother’s house is kind of cool by my way of reckoning – loads of hippy shit everywhere -wind-chimes and scrap-metal sculpture in the garden – sometimes there’s bearded-weirdos chanting in the hot tub – or tie-dyed women making lentil soup in old tin baths. It’s more like some sort of suburban commune – a place where old freaks go to relive, as best they can, the only life they ever wanted to live. The neighbours hate it – and, of course, this is why I love it. They’ve even painted the car – I guess they were trying for something like Kesey’s bus – but all the colours got mixed up into brown sludge, and it looks like demented fanatics have made some sort of dirty protest – and maybe they have – maybe they are shitting all over the white-fence-tidy-lawn-middle-class-middle-America that they found themselves being suffocated in – like the ultimate endless bad-trip.
My father had left her for someone twenty years younger – after taking all her best years – and she found herself alone – I mean really alone – you see she’d thrown herself totally into him and her family – and found with him gone – here one day gone the next – that she had no life of her own – she didn’t even know who she was – didn’t know what to do when she woke up in the morning. She got real depressed – cried for days – just fell apart. Me and my sister rallied round – made the effort to go and see her – got her to see the Doctor and get some pills – but then she would just sit at the kitchen table for hours looking confused – not even sad – just not there if you get what I mean.
This lasted about three months – and then I am not sure what happened – maybe some old friend from the past turned up – or maybe because she had no idea what to do, or how to live, she just decided to resume what her life had been before she met dad – maybe, and this is what my sister said, she just went mad – I don’t know – but first thing I knew about this was when my sister showed up to find her playing Dylan at top volume and sharing a bong with a couple of crazies – Sis asked if she was ok – to which my mum replied – does the Pope shit in the woods – and laughed like she’d just invented the phrase. Big Sis don’t like it one bit – oh no – but fuck – I can’t help but admire the woman – she seems genuinely happy for the first time in years – off-her-rocker-stoned-drunk-loveable-laughable-lunatic – a fifty-five year old woman living – without an ounce of shame – like a teenage flower-child in a time-warp – Sis would probably like to see her join a reading group or find religion or get a part-time job or take up a hobby – but bloody hell – she’s found a life – why can’t she live madly today and screw tomorrow? Why does she have to be mother-wife-citizen? So Sis doesn’t visit no more – finds it embarrassing and, well … plain impossible I guess – I mean it can be a little weird to go and find that she has dressed an inflatable sex-doll up in my father’s clothes – pulled the pants down – shoved one big mother of a joint in its ass – and posed the thing in the front window – like a ‘bottom-cigar’ my mum said – delighting in the scatological-fuck-the neighbours-fuck-the-world obscenity of it all.
Yes I worry that she’ll get busted – or that the unpredictability will get out of hand in some terrible way – but she’s living a life that a big part of me would love to live. And it’s not all pendulum-tits and body paint and sex-dolls and geriatric hell’s angels freaking out – sometimes it’s just the smell of patchouli and the sound of sitars and sitting outside gazing into the fire and just being mellow- just being with people enjoying one more sunset, one more moonlit night, and one last flashing chance – like an Indian summer so many years after autumn started turning into winter – oh I don’t know – it sounds shit when I tell it – but it feels like home – feels more like home than my own apartment does – with its plasma screen and computers and microwave food and soulless, life-destroying, normality.
I sometimes wish my mum and sister could swap ages – Sis already lives like someone preparing for a dignified end – someone who has put all the silliness and the madness and the lust for life behind her – she cares about stains on the carpet and the price of groceries and what the neighbours might think – the only life she lives is vicariously, and safely, through books – Christ, it’s like those fuckers who win the lottery and carry on doing the same boring jobs, because, despite what they say, they’re too scared to live a different life -but my mum – I’d love to give her all those years back – because she would use every fucking minute of them – but I try not to get sad or angry – I look at her and I look at all her nutty friends – and they don’t seem sad – not overwhelmed by the cruelty of time – they are just living with the wisdom of fools – and it is only me who cries.
And maybe I don’t think of her as my mother anymore – but that’s no bad thing if you really think about it – I stopped needing a mother when I was about fifteen – and maybe that was part of the tragedy when dad left – we’d all moved on – leaving her as some sort of empty shell – or discarded husk. And it’s true that the house does not seem like my mother’s house anymore – or the house that we grew up in – but least it’s not a mausoleum for the half-living – or an object masquerading as life. So as far as I am concerned she can wave her freak-flag high no matter how ridiculous that flag might now look to anyone else.