№336; political pursuits: an excerpt

My mother looks almost, hurt, but of course she’d never actually show hurt. That would require showing an emotion other than anger. “So you wish I’d never done this, is what you’re saying?” Her voice isn’t small, exactly, but certainly quieter.

“No, that’s not what I said. I’m so proud of you, I always have been. I used to get in fights on the playground defending you and your politics and policies even before I really knew what I was defending! I just knew you were my mom and you were always right and your heart was always in the right place.” I take a shaky breath, about to say something I’ve felt and thought for most of my life, but never said outloud except to Eva in my weaker moments. When I begin, I’m looking at my hands in my lap. “Listen, I know I’m not the daughter your expected, or wanted. I know you’re disappointed in my choices – being a school teacher isn’t exactly what you had in mind for me. I know you wanted me to want big grand things like you always wanted, and I know that you broke down all those barriers that you did so that I could do more, be more, but I’m not you. I’ve always been more like Dad,” I look behind me, he gives me a sad, but encouraging look. “So even if I haven’t lived up to your grand plans, I live a good life. I do good work that really helps people – KIDS – I have friends I love and we stand up for each other and we all work every day to make the world a better place. Isn’t that what you wanted? Like, really, deep down? Can’t you be proud of that? And I happened to find someone who believes in the same things as me, and who brings out the best in me and infuriates me to action and who makes me happy. At least, I think. We haven’t exactly had time to explore this.” I run out of steam there and look up at her.

Her face is agonizingly neutral.

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