4:28 p.m. - 2005-07-13
My mom met us at the door as we wearily exited the van. I was struck by how frail she looked. This was not the woman who raised me. This was not the person that I’d had a love hate relationship with all my life. This was not the monster that I had once envisioned, who had allowed such chaos to reign in my youth. This was not the woman who had held me to her breast and suckled me as a baby. No – this was a mere shadow of that once youthful woman. Now with pure white gossamer hair, skin as soft as a baby but seemingly more than her tiny frame could carry.
My heart did a leap, and I was glad we’d come.
Tuesday morning we arose none the more refreshed, but to a bright and promising day. I immediately noticed a familiar phenomena - I was back in the house and town that I was a teenager in and I felt like a teenager all over again. With the small exception that I never woke up with a guy in my bed when I lived here – AND – this room didn’t look anything like the one I remembered.
Is it just me? Or when a person visits the town they grew up in (but haven’t visited in a while) that regardless of how old you really are – those passed years are but a blink, and you feel like that teen again? Is it just me, I ask you? I noticed, when we went downtown later, that time really seemed to have stood still. It’s been 25 years since I lived in this town – yet everything is so familiar. Oh, a few of the stores have changed, they’ve built a new high school, and there’s a brand new housing development behind the rodeo grounds – but other than that its exactly the same . . . only different.
While we were out I would see a small group of teens and wonder to myself . . . . “did I used to baby-sit you?”. Then I’d laugh, give my head and shake and realized that I probably baby-sat their parents. Geesh! It really seems hard to grasp that so much time has passed, and I’ve done so much more living outside of this small towns borders than I ever did in them. I couldn’t wait to grow up and move out. I didn’t want to become the next waitress to work at the “Old Hotel”, a secretary at the Insurance office or with the local realtor, or worse yet – a wife.
I digress ….
I have one little ‘public display of laughter’ to share with you, but this time it doesn’t involve a public bathroom, T, or me ….. this time it involves my 83 year old mom. (P.S. This town is SOOOO small that 90% of the population knows my mom and stops to hug her if they see her on the street– too weird! But I suppose that’s better then going out of their way to run her down) Anyway – on our one and only dinner time outing while in town mom decided to treat us to the “Old Hotel” restaurant. Their specialty is supposed to be Chinese food, but that seems like such an oxymoron in a backwoods, boot lickin’, cowboy kickin’, small town. Basically our three menu choices were – grease, extra-grease, or Canadian Chinese – not much a choice if you ask me. I settled on a beef dip (I felt that was safe), my T decided a steak sandwich (of which both words were a contradiction to what arrived on the plate), and my mom only wanted a small bowl of soup.
When the waitress arrived to take our order, it turned out to be someone I graduated high school with. So, all during the ordering, we did a little catching up. One of the traits my mom has picked up in her older years is a slight stutter, and as she placed her order with Rita our waitress (without making eye contact) she brightly said “wuh wonton soup please”. To which Rita replied “small or large”. Mom said ‘small’ with a slight furrowing of her brow.
We didn’t think of it much until the food came. Rita plunked down the largest vessel of War Wonton soup that I’ve ever seen in front of my mom. At which point all three of us grew a ‘furrowed’ brow and exclaimed at the hugeness of said soup. What we all had thought would be a small hand cupped bowl of soup with one or two wontons and at least a cup of broth, turned out to be a great 7 inch in diameter bowl of veggies, broth, meat, more veggies, and two prawns. AND THIS WAS THE SMALL?????
We laughed uproariously once we’d figured out what had gone awry. Mom fished out the prawns and gave them to T. She slurped a couple of spoonfuls of consommé, found the wonton x 3, and called it quits on the massive basin of broth. The left over not even to be taken home in a swan shaped masterpiece in tin foil. Mom laughed so hard I thought her false teeth were going to fall out.
Me thinks there is a aura that follows this family around when it comes to public adventures.