|A jug o wine.|
I'll try something new today. I'll tell a story about my Mom, some empty wine jugs, a packet of pills, and singing in a closet.
It was my junior year at NYU. My roommate was going through a rough patch with her boyfriend, which I suppose is a redundant statement since she and her boyfriend were always fighting, and fighting LOUDLY. She was an emotional type, an artist, and, well, he was just a jackass. This habitual fighting caused her many sleepless nights, and to relax, she would drink a glass of wine before turning in. She never drank that one glass quickly, so I never gave it another thought.
We both lived in our sorority house, where we hosted a lot of "mixers" with other sororities and fraternities. Often, I was in charge of the booze and bought lots of cheap wine. In my twenty-one year old eyes, wine was classy, despite the box or jug it came in. As a result of my desire to spread a little "class" around our sorority, there were jugs of leftover wine all over the house, some full but mostly half or near empty. I didn't notice that the jugs were making their way into my room for my roommate to drink her one glass every night. And because it was dark and moody on her side of the room, I also didn't notice that these glass jugs were piling up, covering every square inch of her desk and forming a border around her bed.
But my Mom did.
One day, she popped in for a visit to drop off some food and just say hello. We took a walk to enjoy a mild spring afternoon, and after an hour of walking around the East Village, we went back to the sorority house for a little rest before she went home. The couches in our house were woefully in need of a good steam-cleaning, so I suggested that she lay down on my bed. In my room. Where the empty wine jugs were. After seeing the wine jugs, she spun on her heels to go back home. She barely said goodbye to me before she left. I thought she was acting funny, but I didn't connect the dots until much later.
To make matters worse, this happened a few weeks after my Mom found a packet of little white pills in my room at my parents' home. The pills were Dramamine, an over the counter drug for motion sickness. I had gone to Egypt the year before and bought them to combat my chronic need to upchuck whenever I travel. The pills were not in its original package and were thoughtlessly shoved into my desk when I returned from my trip. I had forgotten all about them. But my Mom found them in my room one day when she was rummaging around for a pen. And, oh, did her wheels start spinning.
And then there was that Thanksgiving weekend when she found me singing in the linen closet at home. I calmly explained to her--and my sisters--that I was taking a voice class at school and I was simply doing my homework. The closet was the only private space in that entire house, especially when our entire family was home for the holidays. I knew the closet was a quirky choice, but the only other place I could sing without anyone hearing me was outside in the cold. To me, it made perfect sense to sing the closet.
My sister Elle called me later in the week and told me what my Mom suspected: her pill-popping, booze-swigging, closet-singing youngest daughter was in the process of throwing her life away. I had to admit that this version of me was far more interesting than my true self. But it was certainly not true, and I called my Mom to assure her that I was still sane. And drug-free. And not singing in the closet. But maybe, every now and then, having a glass of cheap wine...
My poor Mom. I could only imagine the number of candles my Mom lit at Church for me.
Miss you, Mom.