I’ll never again forget my mother’s 39th birthday. I was just barely 13, beginning to view every little thing in my life through an oddly clear, yet hopelessly adolescent lens, and coming to the profound realization that to anyone who cared to actually look, there was usually some shit or other going on beneath the surface of our lives. Of course, people seldom did look, what with their being busy worrying about you and me looking at their shit. And so we were, bumbling along, navigating some shit or other, mid-way through our 18-month stint in Estados Unidos Do Brasil.
Mom hated Brazil. Hated it. After years of schlepping herself and 2, then 3, wait…4 kids hither and yon in her role of dutiful wife to burgeoning international business man, she was kind of over it.
It didn’t help matters that Interlagos was in the middle of fucking nowhere. It wasn’t shrouded in the terra cotta haze that embraced Sao Paulo proper, but it was far from pristine, given its relatively remote location. Mom was isolated, unhappy, and resentful tinged with just enough guilt to make things pop. She had few, if any, truly close friends, and when “the ladies” got together for cards or book club or some fabricated auxiliary socially obligatory charitably self-sacrificing PTAesque committee meeting whose sole purpose was to appear necessary, none of those things (except the books, and maybe the cocktails) ever seemed to really interest Mom. And I think, for some reason, she felt guilty about that, which subsequently pissed her off.
Forgetting her birthday did nothing to improve her outlook.
The Mom Glare, so bright and fierce, failed to refract the monumental hurt behind it. It was her 39th goddamn birthday! Here she was, living in this goddamn hell hole, expecting nobody to really give a good goddamn about any of it except, maybe, her kids and her husband, and goddamn it to hell was that really too much to ask? Goddammit! GODDAMMIT! <SLAM>
Of course she forgave us. In fact, I don’t ever remember the subject coming up again. But that feeling stuck with me; the feeling that she believed she was, however briefly, forgettable, and the pain that came along with it, was entirely our doing.
I’ve never forgotten that day, nor any of her birthdays since. And while I’m still usually navigating some shit or other, today I put that shit on hold to jot this story down. Because today she’d be 79. And because she is still completely, perpetually, and you’d better believe sarcastically, unforgettable.