For the love of blood

by Joni Abilene

I speak occasionally of my mother and our sometimes stunted relationship. I love the idea of being around her, but the actuality of it is not the same as my ephemeral envisionings. I long for her, and yet when we meet up I experience the same fear of rejection and judgement as I did as a child. Example: I can look in the mirror one day and be mildly satisfied with myself, but on a day my mother is coming for a visit, I labor in the mirror for hours without finding any real satisfaction. I see myself through her eyes, and her vision is fine-point and exclusive. Impossible to please. I sweat and shake. Meeting my mother is never an easy process, and yet as I said, I love her too much to stay away for too long.

But I do see the humor in our relationship, one that is akin to a Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fischer—if you want to make comparisons. I could write a book about it and relish in the material that was once fodder for tears but now—with time and space easing the pain—a venue of satire. But then I see it falling into my mother’s hands and the vision closes down like a guillotine. It would hurt her, because she has her own ephemeral envisionings.

Did I ever tell you my mother writes too? Funny stories, romantic stories. Novels about crime and espionage. Nothing on the New York Times best seller list, but books all the same. She pushes me to write publishable work so that I can escape the financial woes of motherhood. You should write for Avon. Take all your little essays and put them in a book. What about your lyrics? Those would make good material for poetry contests. I tell her Im writing a quirky lit about the 1976 Bicentennial. She seems deflated. That will never sell.

Write a romance and call me in the morning.

If I ever do break through this market and get published, she’ll be in for a shock. The loud, profane voice of a fourteen-year-old boy on the verge of sexual exploration. His mother, also on the verge of sexual exploration—will push my mother to denial. You didn’t write that. Someone else wrote that. Or. Why did you write that? That is, perhaps, the hardest question to asnwer, becasue . . . I don’t know why. I just write. It’s saved me many, many times as of late, to just write. To not think. To purge and allow. So seldom have I been able to release in my life, but I am able to in fiction. There are voices inside me that I don’t always understand. Sometimes I am of the male persuasion, cussing and hitting at things; othertimes I am soft and ride a wave of gentility that is overtly feminine. Both are inside me. Both demand release.

The other day my mother came over to babysit for an hour or so while I ran an errand. I had forgotten that one of my favorite books All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers was on the coffee table, atop various magazine and newspapers. My mother looks through, and reads, everything—including mail. When I came back and saw the book had been flipped through, I frantically read the first page, because an itch of a worry had been inside my brain at seeing it lying there. The first page was about Godwin and his ‘fuckist’ theory. Damn. Mother must’ve had a nice shock with that one. Then I started to laugh. Welcome to my brain, mother. I love vulgar and vile as much as beautiful and sometimes I find the former in the latter. Sometimes not. If she would have read the rest of the book she’d find a journey of a man with one of the most intense narratives I’ve ever come across in any book. Most likely she got to Godwin and put it down.

When—one day—my book comes out, I will hesitate before showing it to the one person I’ve been dying to impress my entire life. I may not show it to her at all. Haven’t figured it out yet. Truth is, that one last speck of love she has for me dangles over my head like a carrot and I fear its demise. My glory could be the death of the carrot.