Today, I am a woman who categorically rejects pink. I do not wear it. Under any circumstances.
This summer, when I visited the States, I made a guilty confession to my mom: Yes, I go out for a jog once in awhile, but I don’t enjoy it. My parents are avid runners and my father is a track and cross-country coach. Mother-daughter runs were the core of our relationship during my teenage years. She didn’t take the news well—she continued to protest, “But you told me once you wished you hadn’t quit the team …” she said, on Skype.
So I emailed my mom, asking her about the update to her Twitter profile and if she was doing photography. I worried that this admission of how little I knew about her life would hurt her feelings. But I asked myself what would trouble her more—that I didn’t know? Or that I didn’t ask?
I hit send.
Mom is usually a little slow to respond. But, this time, I got a reply the same day:
I’ve been feeling very frustrated creatively for quite some time, since I no longer do design for a living … I’ve been searching for a creative outlet for a few years. And I’ve been quite interested in rug hooking. It is a little expensive to start up. But, finally, I have all the major supplies I need.
So I started rug hooking. My own design.
I attend a class once a week. It’s mostly older women. I enjoy just sitting there hooking while listening to them chitchat.
This didn’t jibe with the image I had of my mom. She’d been a New Yorker—impatient, walk fast, talk fast. And she’d always turned her nose up at crafts. Who was this woman who sat, quietly, hooking rugs, listening to the ladies around her? I struggled to picture it.
As for the photography, she continued, I’ve been missing that as well …
It turns out that she’d always taken black and white stills. How can it be that I hadn’t noticed?
She went on, explaining that her new hobby had led her to some realizations of her own. Mom had had a strained relationship with her stepmother, who passed away recently. When she’d gone to New York to console my grandfather, guess what Mom noticed on their shelves? Books on rug hooking. They’d had more in common than they’d known.
You know, Mom added, when I was young, I kept these little notebooks. I wrote everything down. I wanted to be a writer, too. Like you.
Our pictures of each other need updating. But, I realize, we know each other’s core, some essence that stands still, unmoved by time. Yes, the adult me can’t stand pink. But I always wanted to be a writer. And that never changed.
I tapped out a quick email asking Mom, “What’s all this about loving Savannah? What about New York? Do you still want to move back to the city someday?”
She sent me a short answer: I do.
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