Not From Around Here

I had the most amazing dream last night. I was on CSUN’s campus and Bette Midler was going to perform. She happened to be walking across the quad, the same grass lawn where my mom took me to hear President Clinton speak in 1995. When Bette walked by, a group of Latinx teenagers had gathered blocking my view. Bette was without any sort of entourage. The teenagers didn’t recognize her stardom. I hollered above their heads: “Bette Midler! Looking divine!” She turned towards us but didn’t see me. The group of brown faces looked between the two of us like Where did these old white ladies come from?  I emerged from the crowd and called out again: “Simply divine!” Bette laughed and waved me over. We walked and talked like old dreams. I agreed to bring her lunch. I pondered where I’d find a grease-free, fresh, plant-based meal as Bette made her way through a trap door inside a bush. Here’s the kicker, I smiled in my dream thinking I cannot wait to tell Mom about this one! Then, I woke up. 

What can I say? A lot of us had that kind of year, last year and even the year before that. It seems we’re losing people we cannot live without all the time. In many ways, it’s easier to dream about what was and what might be than to accept what is. I’m thinking 2022’ll be different. Here’s just one of my personal reasons why.

There’s a mom and daughter duo that walk the neighborhood every day. I know they’re mother and daughter because they have the same gait, same way of holding their water bottles in their left hand, same slight tilt of their heads as if letting the sun hit only one cheek. They remind me of the walks I used to take with my mom. Months went by when my insides crunched from jealousy. I wanted to yell at the younger one, “Walk with her! Don’t think she’s too slow! She won’t be walking forever, you know!” The younger one is at least sixty, maybe older. It’s none of my business anyway. Except that it kinda is. I mean, I believe we’re all connected. Paying attention is part of what connects us. Ever since my perspective shifted to acceptance that my mom is gone and the realization that passing judgment wouldn’t bring her back even a little, I’m not as pained by jealousy. When it does come, it leaves quickly. Now, when I see the pair walking, I stare a tad longer at the more crooked one. I notice her slightly skewed baseball cap, dabbing a napkin to her nose, and she is my mom. I wave and holler: “A hearty good morning to you both,” like I’m not from around here. Some days are like that I suppose when I look back at the hours and think I’m not from around here. Then, I make the very best day with the here I’ve got and the me I am.

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