Story 80 of 111 from I am Compassionate Creativity.
The American South and Italy’s Cinque Terre. 2012.
When I was in a relationship for all those years, I never considered inviting my mom on a trip, but now, why not? I had the space, I could use the company, and my mom was fun. When I asked she was ready to fly down and meet me partway and get in the car and go. It was like old times and new times.
Understanding quickly that our eating and sleeping rhythms were quite different, we worked out a great schedule where my mom would wake up early and be able to take her own time getting ready and reading the paper, and I would stay up late and have my own time doing work or talking on the phone to friends. She helped set up for my show in Myrtle Beach, she watched me teach in Atlanta, and she met all my friends and colleagues along the way. In between, we drove, we laughed, and we saw the sights. We rode bikes along the Atlantic and explored Savannah.
By the time we pulled into Atlanta, I realized that I was, in fact, on tour with my mother. One night I came home from a late workshop, and there she was already asleep and all ready to wake up and get back on the road. During this new time with her, I realized how much I didn’t know about her, how much I had never even thought to ask. I knew she liked oysters and drank coffee and loved to laugh. I knew that she had worked hard to manage her own businesses for fourteen years wallpapering and painting and ironing linens. I knew that she races and earned medals. I knew that she was always there when I got off the bus from school. I knew that she had her wisdom teeth out right before she found out she was pregnant with me, but what was she like before she had me? I understood my childhood from my perspective, but what had it all been like from hers? I knew that she loved me because she showed me and told me all the time, but did she know how much I loved her too?
Sometimes I would become frustrated with her, but then I would notice that the reasons why were the same things that I found frustrating about myself. Sometimes this made me more frustrated. Sometimes I became so impatient with her, but then I would be reminded of how beautiful she was, how she gained so much joy from the littlest things. How important it was for her to take a photo of every state sign as we passed it and every heart-shaped thing that she noticed. Her favorite thing was going out in the morning, exploring the new town, meeting people, and giving me the full update when I woke up. One night while I was at rehearsal, instead of falling asleep, she stayed up late dressing up and taking pictures of herself in all of the masks I bought to do the show! These photos are priceless, and there might even be one of both of us making faces next to one another in dog masks: her, the young and chipper one and me, the old, wrinkled one.
When we arrived in Mississippi, I didn’t want her to leave. I had become accustomed to her companionship. “What if for your birthday this year, you come to Italy? When I’m done with my work, we can take a trip together.”
“Let me think about it...”
Three months later I was picking my mom up in the Rome airport. Stopping in Florence and Pisa on the way, we took a train to the coast. There, we swam in the Mediterranean during the day, we walked the famous Lover’s Walk at sunset, and we got dressed up and clinked glasses in a new village every night… gratefully celebrating the completion of my mom’s sixtieth year on the planet and the newly forged pathways of our relationship.
What are some milestones that you’ve celebrated with your friends and family?
What’s a upcoming milestone? How can you create a new way to celebrate it with the people you love?