Saturday, February 25, 2006

So this was it

So this was it, Mom thought. She had managed to fool an entire university through the force of will alone, and she had come within inches of making a clean escape. But Dr. Reiss could see through her, could see the whole bleak story: the scholarship to Miami University she'd sacrificed at sixteen to marry my father, who she thought was twenty-six years old and a pilot. (He was eighteen and a gambler.) The twenty-four years of poverty and terror and ennui; the sexy, unpredictable man who managed it all, dominated everyone around him, animals even. Her children, who had never before had any reason to be proud of her, and who now saw her in a new way, children she had adored and ignored simultaneously, because she simply could not get up off the couch, she could not clean a condemned house with no running water, she could not cook meals with food that didn't exist or wash clothes without a washing machine. Without clothes. She couldn't drive a car she didn't have, without a license she couldn't acquire. She had taken her vows and then they had taken her, and the forces amassed against her were greater than love, greater than obligation. They were elemental, heavy as a dead planet. Onc chance—that's what she had seen she had—one flying leap that was really composed of eight thousand separate possibilities for falling, and she had taken that chance and come this far and been found out. And in a stupid class full of selfish, self-indulgent, narcissistic, spoiled children who were encouraged by Dr. Reiss to talk talk talk about their feelings, when what they ought to have been doing was shutting up and studying the conversations of their elders and superiors. It was here? Here she would be done in?

--Haven Kimmel, She Got Up Off the Couch

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