A mother doesn’t stop forming her child into a being when the baby leaves her insides empty again. And that’s just it: parents are burdened with having to make sure that we become decent people. Once we reach the age where it becomes a conscious fact that parents are charged with growing us into the person we are meant to be, it’s usually about the same time we become conscious of the fact that we want to be our own person.
All I know is that, in January, I got weird looks from a knotted-haired cashier at some run down Party City when I asked him for help finding reindeer antlers (you know, the kind you put on cars?). My mother had waited in the car and given me one of those bittersweet-but-hopeful-for-my-sake, “I’m here for you” smiles. Those antlers and tacky red nose hung in the garage for four days, the same garage I’d claimed sanctuary in a week earlier while I sat on the phone with you in my mother’s empty car that night we listened to each other cry for the first and last time.
Those God forsaken antlers. My attempt to break the ice after you’d sat me down at a Waffle House and let me tell you how much it hurt while I played Katy Perry songs on the juke box; my attempt to fall back into the past eight years like they had meant something after you’d sat across from me and made promises I never asked you to make; before I knew the promises were empty; before the picture I’d sent you of my new tattoo, the picture you opened but never responded to.
If I could’ve just gotten those antlers on your stupid new sports car that you’d promised to teach me how to drive.
I couldn’t tell you how long those antlers hung in that muggy garage. But I saw them every time I left and every time I came home. Ripping off the band-aid every day, reminding myself that you wanted me to stay gone.
Then one day the antlers just weren’t there.
It’s been five months, and I still have no idea where they went.
But I do know that this is why we need parents. They slap our hands when they see us ripping at a band aid that covers a scar we both know needs to heal.