I am trying to decide, when I hear someone honk and say, “Come on lady! Move your car!”
I yell back, “Give me a minute! I haven't decided!”
“I don't care, just drive,” he says. Do I drive or let him go around me? Is this a sign that I should just go? I step on the gas.
It’s been three hours. I wonder if my parents will notice that I am gone, or even care. The voice in my head replays the argument my mother and I had before I left.
“Are you ever going to become an adult?”
“Are you ever going to become an adult role model I can look up to?”
What would it be like if there were auditions for adulthood? You could either have a call back or not make the cut, which would mean you would have to wait for another production of “life.” I probably won’t make the cut, because my mom didn’t rehearse the lines with me. If I tried to explain my relationship with my mom, it would sound like a cliché lifetime movie. My mother and I have a love/hate relationship: she tries to love me more and I try to hate her less.
Sure, my mom and I have had three or four mother-daughter moments.There was one time we went on a really fast roller coaster to the point where I thought we were going to be sick. In the end, we did get sick, but it was worth it. Another time on a family vacation, we went swimming in the ocean, and came out with seaweed all of over us. But all of that was before she found out that I was going to be the biggest disappointment in her life.
My dad and I don’t really talk. I think I make him uncomfortable. I don’t think he knows what to say to me or how to deal with me when I get myself into what they like to call an "anxiety headache situation." Whereas I like to call it "enjoying my youth," they interpret my every move as proof I don't give a damn about what I do with my life. But they don’t know the real me. I am very organized and responsible when it comes to school--all my binders are on point. When it comes to my boyfriend, Jess, I make sure I make time for him, but not so much that I get behind and stray from my academic studies. I make sure all my college apps are in on time, and I still manage to make time to relax without stressing too much about my grades. But they don’t think I am responsible in my studies, because I am not bringing home the grades they want to see, and I don’t compare to their expectations. So she makes subtle comments that make me feel like shit.
My mom has always told me she would be proud of me in anything I do ... as long as I come home on the honors list and get into an Ivy League school. They always wanted me to be the perfect child who they could brag about to all their friends. Some people might think my parents just want more for me than they had in their own lives, but they had everything. They graduated from Cornell and became well-known lawyers. The day I come home with an acceptance letter from Dartmouth, they will be proud to call me their daughter, but until then, it’s like they’ve disowned me.
When I was growing up, I would see my friend's parents tell them they loved them or hug them goodbye on their first day of school. I’ve never heard my mother or father say "I love you," not to each other or to me. On my first day of school, they wouldn’t even walk me inside. They told me they had to get to work and I would have to go in alone and, "have a good day, see you at 2:30." I was like, "Okay great, I'm only in kindergarten, but I guess I will try to figure out when 2:30 is."
I get so jealous of my friends and their families, talking about stuff they did in school and actually being interested in each other's lives. When my friends come over for dinner, my parents interrogate them about their futures and then make disappointed comments..
Once my friend Julie was over, and my dad says, “Julie, have you started thinking about where you want to go to college, or what you want to do when you graduate?”
Julie says, “I haven’t given it much thought...maybe doing some courses online and then traveling the world a little bit.”
My mom chimes in, “That’s what you want to do with your life?”
Julie’s face turns bright red and she says, “Well, yeah. My parents think it’s okay.”
Under my breath I say, “Wish I knew what that felt like.”
My parents roll their eyes and say, “Stop being so dramatic.”
I stop and grab some gas before I keep driving. I turn around to grab my wallet and see my small carry-on bag on the back seat, with not many clothes in it and not many toiletries. I had to pack lightly, because I needed to leave quickly this morning. Even though I ran away and don’t know what I am going to do, all I know is that there is no way in hell I am ever returning to that place I used to call my home. The day I packed my things, grabbed the car keys, and drove was the best day in my entire life.
Written by: Jen Meltzer
Photograph by: Fabrice Poussin