I like someone.
This is very hard for me to say in any way. The first time I liked someone–liked them in that way people use the word in sixth grade, all nervous and concerned–I was about to tell my best friend when, out of no where, she said to me “Don’t you think [that person] is weird?”
I mutely agreed and shoved the fact I had a crush on that person down inside of me and tried to forget about it. It, in this case, being my feelings that had become, in my mind, “bad.”
With that idea squared away in my mind, I entered adolescence with a general inability to talk about people I was into. The end of my first relationship was met by private confessions from many of my friends that they never liked my new ex in the first place. What followed were crushes I viewed as inappropriate, bad or downright abusive relationships, and an overarching, ever growing discomfort with my own feelings.
Being able to say to someone “That Carly girl, I totally dig her” or “Kyle? Man, I have such a crush on Kyle,” might not be the most important of social skills. They’re not the content of conversations that really matter, in theory, but there is this cultural idea of the normality, the soft necessity, of being able to have these conversations. Every teen sitcom has some sort of open conversation about how into someone some other character is–usually with the bearer of the feelings being on screen at the time. Years of living with friends, open conversations, and a not insubstantial amount of alcohol got me to point where, through veiled discomfort and mumbling, I can admit to a friend that I like someone.
I can’t do this with my mom.
However, I’ve reached a point where, thanks to the advent of parents on IM, I can chat with my mom about such things. This is something else I feel I -ought- to be able to do, even if there isn’t justifiable utility behind it. I mean, justifiable utility beyond “My mom is interested in my life, loves me, and has way more experience than me so sometimes she has useful things to say or important notes of distinction to share.” I mean, having found my father, and successfully having managed twenty-seven years of marriage so far, counts for something.
(Ida–also known as my mom–on the right in Provincetown. That’s right, my mom liked P-town before it was cool.)
My mom, in case you don’t know, was ridiculously cool when she was younger. She went to Woodstock. She saw “Stop Making Sense” live. My mom once had Michael Bacon play guitar in her living room. Michael Bacon! She’s been through her share of crushes, dates, relationships, one night stands that become good stories when you’re older, and this aforementioned marriage thing.
I can’t actually stress enough how important the fact she is my mom factors into the equation of me telling her things. She loves me. She cares. She’s full of infinite understanding and forgiveness. I could tell her I was in a poly relationship with a straight drag queen, and dating a lesbian with a coke habit and she would be right there, reading articles about poly relationships, checking out the drag queen’s videos, and giving me advice on how to help my lesbian girlfriend overcome her coke problem.
Which ties in very well to my next point: Someone gave my mother the internet.
I talk to her on it, which is great and has made a huge difference in the openness and comfort of our relationship. However, she is not just armed with a screen name for instant messenger. My mom comes with a Facebook account, a blog, a linked in profile, and a twitter. She has great google skills and an uncanny ability to follow links and search across mediums and networks to find whatever she wants to find.
And my gods does she find things.
My nervous admittance to her that I like someone easily drops me into a world where she is commenting to me about things they say on twitter, her looking at photos, and her even going as far as to make up nicknames for this person she hasn’t even met yet. She asks me about how they’re doing, or tells me about what they’re doing.
A conversation with my mother might go like this:
Mom: I was watching this documentary with your father and they were talking about how plastic bottles are washing up on the shores of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area and causing some damage to the reefs there. Johnny McScubaface tweeted about a research trip they were going to go on out there, is their team still going to go?
Obviously, the above comment is a work of fiction. I mean, my mom’s nicknames for people aren’t like “Johnny McScubaface” at all. They’re more like “Kyle Kyle Crocadile” and “Carlotta.” (These are also fictional, but I could totally see my mom calling a Kyle or a Carly names like these.)
In one sense, this makes me regret opening up to my mom. On the rare occasions I see her, she’ll wait until we’re alone and then say “Tell me about that person you like. How did things work out with that? Did they not?” and I’ll cringe and mumble away the conversation. Some realistic part of me is recognizing that this is one of the few ways I let her into the personal aspects of my life. As a child, she was there for everything and it was inescapable. Now, she sees the public and gets the pieces I pass on to her. Now that she is no longer literally dressing me every day or comforting me when I cry, these bits about who I like are the most intimate details I can pass along. They’re secrets she gets to have and share that I don’t–and frankly wont–give to most anyone else. It’s a point she can connect to me with and something she can hold as her own, a rare thing even she gets to keep from my dad.
Plus, everyone loves gossip. And–I love you mom–her life isn’t exactly the non-stop party-fest it was when she was my age. My life isn’t the non-stop party-fest hers was when she was my age. In some sense, I assume that she gets a thrill when I proffer late night IM confessions or awkward mumbling. The excitement of meeting someone new, and coming to be attracted to them, has been replaced in her life with the commitment and love that comes from being married for twenty-seven years.
And even if it makes me feel a little awkward and embarrassed, lots of things do. I’m adjusting to being a person and learning to share is part of that. Besides, talking with her will probably never be as bad as the time NN turned to look at me and then, in a gleeful and accusatory tone: “Is that a hickey?” She cracked up while I turned bright red and people around us made noises about how they were “trying to be polite.”