The text was angry. It was a finger wagging, hair pulling, “I can’t believe you’re such a numbskull!” text. It was my high school best friend.
I texted back angrily. “I’ve already talked it over with my father. My auntie and uncle are nursing my mom until I can get up there in September.”
The text back was lightening quick. “It’s not about whether your mom is ‘covered’. It’s about being there when it counts.” The texted wagged.
Oooooh! The furious-ity that erupted into my tapping fingers! “Who are you to tell me….” No, erase that. Too confrontive. “I understand that you don’t know…” No, that sounds demeaning. “Leave me alone!” Too reactive. I paused. “Understood,” I typed lightly, and after a second of reflection, pressed SEND.
One of the problems of living in society are the expectations. If you’re a 6’4 boy, you’re supposed to be in basketball. If you are a girl, you’re supposed to like princesses. If you’re rich, you should share. If you’re poor, you should be grateful. It’s society’s little checks and balances, to make sure that we (normally) work harmoniously and that chaos doesn’t erupt.
I felt the weight of expectation on my shoulders. As the only daughter, I am expected to go home and take care of my mom who’s just gotten out of surgery. I knew that. But at the same time, my shallow side was supposed to leave the next day for a trip with my loved one that took 6 months of planning, a lottery drawing for permits, and an unforgiving work schedule willing to fire both of us and hire someone younger at a cheaper rate. I was afraid to let HIM down TOO. I just felt that whichever choice I made, someone was going to be angry at me; either my past or my future and it wasn’t going to be pretty.
The text irritated me. It was that faint voice. A Vietnam vet -old guy sober for 20+ years- once told me, “You know the truth when you hear it.” I knew my friend spoke the truth. I knew I should be home with my mom. And yet, every molecule of my body resented the expectation… and loathed the possible negative reaction from my live-in lover.
I called him. My voice quaked. “Hon,” I tried brightly. He was suspicious. “Yessssss?”
I spoke fast. “I-think-I-have-to-bow-out-of-our-trip-I’m-sorry-but-I-think-I-have-to-take-cccare-of-mmmy-mother…” The rush of failure to uphold my end of the bargain! I waited for the verbal slap.
It was worse. Stunned silence. Then softly, “Okay, we’ll figure it out.”
I hung up the phone. (I was at work.) Bitterness filled me. I wish I could make everyone happy! I wish I could split myself into many pieces and be where everyone wanted me, and do everything that everyone expected of me, and be the best daughter/girlfriend/friend/worker/person I thought I could be!
My email pinged. It was my boyfriend. The subject: OUR TRIP. I opened it.
It read: “Your mom is family. I’ll go with you to San Francisco. It will all work out. I promise.”
And at that moment, even though I’m not religious, I thought of another saying a religious friend repeats at me, “God will provide.”
Somehow, when we chose the right path, the universe helps us along. Unexpectedly. And the expectation of being a good daughter or a good girlfriend was replaced with the joy that I was lucky to be both, and that love didn’t stop at boundaries, but overflowed into everyone’s cup.