Saturday, January 26, 2008

letters to The Sun (part one)

"You Could Make a Killing," Aimee Mann

There is nothing that competes with habit
And I know it's neither deep nor tragic
It's simply that you have to have it
So you can make a killing

I wish I was both young and stupid
Then I too could have the fun that you did
Till it was time to pony up what you bid
So you could make a killing

I could follow you and search the rubble
Or stay right here and save myself some trouble
Or try to keep myself from seeing double
Or I could make a killing

I've experienced what it's like from both perspectives now regarding the story that follows. It's not easy to be on either side of this scenario. But it's especially pathetic for the party who's old enough to know better...old enough to be capable of an adult's self-awareness, yet too self-centered to care who gets hurt or why the behavior is upsetting to those who might express love and concern...

At the age of thirteen I walked through JFK International Airport holding tightly to my mother's hand; my younger sister walked on her other side, clutching her favorite stuffed animal. Our mother wore a print dress that showed off her figure, beaded necklaces around her neck, and a knit cap that covered her red hair. Though her clothes hadn't changed since her flower-child days, the lines on her face betrayed the intervening years of hard living.

My sister and I were headed to California to live with our grandparents. Everyone had agreed it was for the best. I was even looking forward to life in my grandparents' tidy house, where dinner was always on the table at six and making the rent was never an issue. At the same time, I clung to the hope that our mother would come with us to California; that, in the end, she wouldn't be able to let us go.

But when the three of us came to the security check, my mother stopped in her tracks.

"I can't go through," she said.

I knew what the problem was. "Don't worry, they're only looking for metal."

She refused to budge. I wasn't going to let airport security ruin the chance that she might come with us. "I'll take it through," I told her.

We went into a stall in the women's restroom, and my mother passed me a small bag filled with white powder. I tucked it into the waistband of my jeans and smoothed out my shirt to conceal the bump. My mother looked anxious. "We can't," she said. She was afraid that a belt buckle or something would set off the metal detector, and they'd have to search us. "You don't know what they'd do to us if they found it." She took back the packet of powder.

"Why don't you just throw it away?" I pleaded. I had never made a request like this before, probably because I knew the choice she would make.

Our mother cried as she was separated from us at security, holding tight to the purse that contained her stash. When my sister and I passed through the metal detector, it didn't make a sound.

- Name Withheld

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home