I felt the sudden drop in temperature as I walked through the battered, wooden door. Though, I didn’t necessarily expect much. Dusty, rustic flooring, kitchen cabinets nearly falling off of their hinges, and the musty scent that cannot seem to escape my nose. The new, or rather old house, is exactly what I anticipated.
Almost immediately, I divert my attention to what sounded comparable to a revved up car engine, only to discover men covered in grime drilling holes into the bathroom walls. I examine the rest of the room, which I conclude has been mostly finished. The travertine tiled walls are seamless, harmoniously matching the floor in an alluring, marbled tan shade. The tacky, thick white wall separating the shower and independent bathtub has been replaced with an all-around glass wall, standing beside the new tub with jets, which is now built into the wall. The only parts missing are the shower heads, which I convinced my mother there be two of. A normal, stainless steel, pull-out shower head with a matching rain shower head, so the water can ascend from the top wall in such a way that it imitates actual downpour.
In the midst of all the construction chaos, I manage to hear the contractor, Jack, explain to my mother the upcoming plans he had for the second bathroom and the rest of the house. In the attempt to remain unseen, I scurry across the hallway to my prospective room. A lot smaller, I initially thought. This is gonna take some getting used to. But I can make it work. I always do.
I slowly creep into the room like I was entering a stranger’s room, dragging my hands across the walls, feeling the uneven surface of what is now my own blank canvas. In retrospect, I would have wanted a more vibrant color, seeing as my previous bedroom had been stained a lively teal. For the past year or so, due to the somber outcome of recent events, I have been told the sunshine within me has lacked the luster it once had. Having a tendency to match the paint of my room in accordance to how I see my personality fit, I decide on a muted grey.
I begin to strategize where to place my ideal furniture. Bed against the wall, right below the window so I can be woken by the natural light, a simple nightstand with a dim lamp to switch off just before I drift off into a deep sleep, and a wide shelf to store all my music. I felt a smile slowly creep up on me, inching itself across my face, thinking about how I could finally design my room the way I wanted to. I would have kept going, but my thought process was cut short when I noticed my mother and Jack from the corner of my eye.
“So? What do you think?” my mother inquires with excitement, which seemed unusual to me since she is particularly stern.
“Um, it’s definitely a fixer-upper,” I jokingly said under a slight chuckle.
“Are you excited to live with your mom?” Jack asked with a meager grin, thinking it’d be a simple question upon request.
I paused for a second before I could conjure up an answer.
My mother and I never had the best relationship, or even a relationship at all. I’ve always been “my father’s son” ever since I was a child. It was effortless running into my father’s arms and sinking into his chest, filling my heart with comfort and warmth. His brazen and firm gestures guided ever growing curiosity. I distinctly remember looking over into my mother’s eyes, emanating what seemed to be a blizzard. I longed to be able to ease into her arms as I did my father’s.
It hadn’t gotten better since then. I was always aware of my parent’s unstable relationship; though I sought every reason to convince myself that all parents unexpectedly go through this phase, I knew that wasn’t the case. It seemed rather odd to me that my parents never kissed, held hands, or even showed each other an ounce of affection, but I soon acknowledged that their love for each other would never be perfect, or rather, balanced. Though my father made a valiant effort and catered to her every need, my mother refused to reciprocate the desire to love him. It had been like this for as long as I could remember, and inevitably, the coldness she had given my father found its way to me. It was as though her coldness intensified, each wave of winter knocking me down ten times harder every single time. I recall my attempt to welcome my mother home from work, charging towards her with a tremendous smile on my six-year-old face, only to be rejected as she walked up the stairs with no remorse.
It seemed in such a way that the blizzard lasted for centuries, and while I prayed for the snow storm to lose its reign, it instead lost control. How my parent’s marriage wistfully terminated will forever be engraved in my mind. That night, I dragged my tired body home from an exhausting, five-hour dance practice, expecting to arrive to an empty household as per usual, but instead walked into a flurry of curse words and resentment.
“Why the fuck would you need to buy Plan B pills for?!”
I had never seen my father, who I deemed the strongest man on Earth, flushed with so much anger with tears streaming down his face. I felt my heart shrink and my stomach drop to my knees when I realized what my mom had done. Though my father had vacated the household, it seemingly felt like my mother had left instead. It was as if I held onto her leg, pleading her to stay, but she instead shook me off and slammed the door right into my face.
I never understood how a relationship that never existed could be broken, but I suffered being severed by the fragments she had carelessly left. I could no longer hold my tongue when confronting my mother. I lashed out every chance I had the opportunity to with no repentance. As my father walked out of the door, my sympathy, compassion, and empathy as a whole had vanished as well.
My parent’s divorce turned me into a bitch. I’m not blaming the separation per say. I’m simply stating that the process in which it took to cope, accept, and mentally persevere required me to readjust myself. I found it painstakingly difficult to bite my tongue when one was cursing about the other. I remained silent until one or the other apologized for forgetting that I was, first, their daughter. I nodded until I truly understood, I lied that I had understood until I understood. And the changes turned out to merely be the growth of thicker skin. So I grew.
They say that the only time you truly become an adult is when you finally forgive your parents for being just as flawed as everyone else. So I forgave her. Since then, we grew together. We built this house together from the ground up, turning a broken-down shack to a place we could call home. Our home.
I let out a slight smirk and instinctively nodded to answer Jack’s question. My mother opened her arms to welcome a warm embrace. Though I felt rather awkward and hesitant, I gravitated toward her.
This is gonna take some getting used to, I thought. But I can make it work. I always do.
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