I went on vacation yesterday. The Boy doesn’t come out with me so much now that he doesn’t have to. Back in the shelter I was not allowed to leave him in the room by himself, despite him being in his teens. He was tied to me, and it was not fair on him at all. I miss him coming out with me, and had to pull the pouting and sulking mother act to persuade him to keep me company. Oh yes, I laid that emotional blackmail on thick. Think of your poor mother. Alone. Out there. In the sunshine. Not having a great time without you. I am adept at humourous poking and tongue in cheek manipulation. I know it isn’t fair, but it’s been over a month since he came out with me, and I wanted to catch up with him and ask him about school. Since we have no car, and I cant let him sit in the back seat and talk to me like we used to, I have to take my opportunities for some teen-boy mothering while I can.
He cracked eventually, and didn’t even seem to resent me any. We had barely got down the road when he looked at me and said “hey mom…Thanks for getting me to come out with you. This is nice.” I bought him an icecream, and he barely protested.
He towers above me now, but when I looked at him for that one moment he was five years old again, with scuffed knees and a streak of dirt on his face and that sweet cheeky grin, holding a hot wheels car in one hand, and the other in mine as we walked. Of course he squished me affectionately, ruffled my hair and the spell was broken. The young man is 8 inches taller than me. He has facial hair and big ole paws with unbitten fingernails. I miss him being a small child. I am so proud of the young man he has turned into. He is funny and sweet and kind. He indulges me, but is showing no signs of being a ‘yes man’ of any kind. He is not afraid to tell me when he thinks I am wrong, or pointing out mistakes I have allegedly made here and there. We have come to the conclusion that I am mostly, if not entirely right. I love him so dearly I have tears in my eyes.
You see yesterday cost me so much. It cost me my youth, it cost me my house, it cost me my health. It cost me having a partner in life now I am middle aged and ugly. It cost me years of pain and torture and dodging Hague Convention attempts to destroy me and my family. It cost me five years homeless, on the road. It cost me almost everything and was worth everything I suffered and sacrificed for. I would do it all again just to end up here with my child walking down the Embarcadero, the palm trees making everything seem a little more magical, a little brighter and more special.
I am not a ‘good victim’, I am not one of those ‘perfect’ women who can be deemed blameless, pure and worthy of the respect of others. I don’t care to be, either. I did it my way. Might not have been the way society would have had me do anything, but fucking hell I am not dead like so many abused women, nor did I fuck up and end up in jail like the tragic Elize Matsunaga who murdered her husband after he threatened to kill her, slapped her, and told her he was taking the child. I don’t judge Elize, I pity her. She was extremely provoked, and did what she did. Watching Once Upon A Crime: Elize Matsunaga, I had the sudden and creepy feeling that I had somehow managed to wiggle out of an even worse possible disaster. I don’t have it in me to react in the way she did, and my heart goes out to her, because she paid with everything she had. Everything. I hope there is some part of her that is quietly happy with the result. I cannot feel any sadness for a man who hit and threatened, even if I do believe absolutely that he had the right to life, and she should have grabbed the child and ran like hell instead of grabbing the shotgun. Gram Parson’s knew where it was at. In Kiss the Children, he sang: “So don’t play this crazy game with me no longer/Cause I won’t be able to resist my rage/And the gun that’s hanging on the kitchen wall, dear/Is like a road sign pointing straight to Satan’s cage.” Coulda, shoulda, woulda…it is all so easy in retrospect. I had no desire for revenge or more violence. I just wanted to survive so I could walk along the waterfront with people I loved. As I said…not a total success…not a total failure either.
That said, I am glad I did it my way, and made sure that nobody escalated it to the point of death. I am kinda proud of the way I dealt with things, even if it was not how I was meant to do it. That Sunday walk was why I took the beatings, and what people will never understand who have never existed in the middle of a storm of extreme violence, not protected by the laws of a western country. Fighting back would have ended up with him dead, or me dead, at his insistence. My outward capitulation means that I am alive and not only that I can live with myself. I just wanted to be free. I needed to be free. I did whatever it took to be free, and I fucking did it my way.
You see this outcome is not a total disaster, a complete loss. I kinda sorta won, and not only that, regrets, I have a few, but I didn’t walk other people’s paths, let their desires control my actions. No. I stuck a middle finger up to the patriarchy, the unfair law, my husband, and the world and rode off into the sunset.
To be frank, I probably should not admit this, but I allow myself a giggle now and again. Even if I lose everything tomorrow I won for long enough to thumb my nose at the whole mess, but please, for the love of all that is good, don’t let me lose now.
I know Zevon is not talking about Johnny Rotten, but still I always think of the Sex Pistols when he sings about Johnny striking up the band. Finding that perfect moment, that flying guitar solo, that exhilarating song, that crystalline Sunday walk preserved in photos and memory makes all it worth it. Freedom. I did it my way.