Wednesday, April 22, 2009


This heat wave is so bizarre -- 1 am and I’m outside in just a t-shirt and pants and I’m almost too warm, in Buena Vista the mosquitoes are out in full force, I keep walking around and saying to people: I hope I don’t get too many bug bites, I’m meeting my mother tomorrow! My favorite part is the conversation I have with these two guys about how someone should be serving tea, yes let’s have a tea party, and they think I’d be a good businessman but no, I would give it all away for free! Up at the very top, past the cruising, so these girls wouldn’t get too upset, okay?

There’s this one guy who was there last time, I mean the guy I kind of bonded with after he tried to swallow my come but then turned to the side and vomited -- I guess we were bonding before, but that was especially cute, right? So then we walked down together and he gave me a ride home, this time he asks my name again and I say Mattilda, we met before -- remember? And he says Mattilda!

This time we try to take the same route down but everything’s fenced off to repair the erosion so we end up on the exact opposite end of the hill from his car, oh no, and I think about jumping into a cab instead but we’re kind of bonding so I walk all the way around with him and by the time we get there I’m so exhausted it’s funny but why is it funny I guess because I’m in this funny mood, the mood I get when I start suggesting to random guys in Buena Vista that we need a tea party, and my new sort-of-friend remembers I live on O’Farrell which is cute, he wants to know where I’m from again. DC -- and you’re from Colombia, right? Oops -- Manila, must have been someone else I met in the park from Colombia but I don’t say that.

All these things I’m worrying about before seeing my mother -- I hope I don’t injure myself, and then end up in more pain than usual. I hope I don’t get too many bug bites because then she’ll think I’m dying of AIDS. She used to think that when I had a lot of acne. The funny thing is that I actually end up without a single bug bite, and less pain than usual, and then I’m on the phone with my mother, who asked me ahead of time to make a list of errands we can do so she can buy me things, so I made a list and the first thing is underwear from the hideous corporate department store right by my house and then my mother is already saying let me see if I have enough cash -- I say of course you can use a credit card -- and she says: credit cards are money too.

Oh, right. I’m certain that it’s going to be a disaster, but then my mother’s over my house and she’s all compliments: she likes the colors, they’re very soothing; she would never have thought this would be a good way to set up two sofas but it’s neat. She likes the chandelier, she likes the lamp, she likes the way I’ve organized things and she even wants to know about the distorted photographs repeated as a frame above the molding on the walls -- those are enlarged and distorted pictures of my eyes, with makeup and fake eyelashes under sunglasses on that one -- with glitter on that one. And the other wall is a distorted enlargement of a section of an image from ‘70s porn. She likes that one the best, I’m not sure if that’s just because it’s not me with makeup, or whether she notices the come dripping out of the guy’s mouth. Probably not -- but I’ll take compliments.

I’m figuring maybe we’ll just hang out here until dinner, but then my mother says when are we leaving? So I guess we’re going to get the underwear, and then a comforter that’s light enough so that maybe I won’t get so warm at night, even when it’s freezing I’m burning up, and then we’re at dinner and it’s funny because it’s always sweltering at Millennium so I was worried it would be too hot to even go inside, but actually it feels the same as always and since it’s so hot outside it’s not so unbearable. And the food -- there’s only one main course I can order because of all my allergies, but oh these braised carrots these roasted beets these pickled vegetables, everything turns out delicious and I don’t have to rush to the bathroom to shit from an allergic reaction, yay!

The conversation is a bit surreal, about my mother’s new gay maybe-friends and what she’s trying to do to meet new people and of course the best part is when my mother starts comparing herself to my grandmother and how the difference is that my mother is generous, there’s not even a comparison she’s always generous. Somehow I feel calm anyway, and I’m trying to remember if this is always how it is, I mean when it’s not horrible and contentious -- I see my mother and I kind of like her, even with her ridiculous contradictions, but then when she leaves it all feels like some hideous illusion and I sink immediately into a bottomless despair that surrounds me no matter what, that despair of childhood and everything since, that despair of what my mother could provide and doesn’t, that despair of what I want but don’t want to want or even when I decide I’m okay wanting it I still end up wanting. That despair of depending on her. Even when I decide that maybe it’s okay without the security I asked for, the security she tells me she’s giving me -- at least I’m stable now I don’t have to worry financially so let me appreciate the comfort that I do have. That despair that she’ll never acknowledge the core of it all, that childhood where he split me open, taught me how to play chess, we went furniture shopping together while she disappeared or asked for that washcloth, held my head to hold it all in, suffocation. There are so many ways to crush a child. That despair that still it’s hard for me to voice the specifics of what exactly she held and crushed. Sometimes I’m still suffocating. That despair that here I am, wanting to love her, wanting not to love her, and wanting.


kayti said...

I do not think she noticed the come. It would be funny if she did however. How long is she visiting for?

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

No, I think you're right -- and it is funny, either way -- she'll be here for three days total, so after that expect me to fall into the usual hole...

Love --

Anonymous said...

I will keep you in my thoughts. I went home for Easter and really got homesick to live in such a beautiful place. The people were so friendly, but then I remembered that they were only friendly because they didn't know I was's a mix.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Oh, no -- what a sad reason to be friendly!!! More beauty, please...

Love --