I can’t even smoke in this damn town.

I’m visting my mother and for reals I want to kill her. For god honest truth she kissed me on the shoulder today, this little old dry lady peck and it was all I could do to not pull her arm out of its socket and shove her so hard across the room she catches air, flies, hits the wall and slides down it like a road runner cartoon.

For reals I saw that image in my mind as she pecked me on the shoulder. Because that peck is not just a peck, it is full of the neediest soup a woman can contain in 100 pounds. It is rich with 33 years of using me to make her happy, relying on me to entertain her and demanding a relationship with me that is not appropriate for a girl that was once my age.

And now I am an adult and I can articulate how angry it makes me that she leaned over to snatch a kiss. If she had done it because she wanted to send me some love that is one thing but no she got that lip action because she wants to suck me dry.

She wants more of me than I have to give.

She wants to take without asking because she thinks if she asks I will say no, which I might, but isn’t that my choice? It has nothing to do with offering me kindness and love, it is about filling herself up and the thing is she ain’t ever gonna get full and that makes my blood curl.

She is watching the state funeral for Jack Layton and I am in the guest room reading. I figured he was a good man, I said a few prayers for his family but I didn’t need to buy into the commodification or cloying at his funeral. My mother comes into the room, crawls up in my bed, places her head on my breast and is sobbing, heaving like a 6 year old. She is getting my shirt all wet. She is saying “He was such a good man…people remembered him so well…His children were so loving…” and I knew she was not thinking about Jack Layton at this moment.

She is thinking of her own mortality and she is scared fucking shitless.  She is so scared she is curled around her adult daughter in a fetal position, looking for a breast to suckle. And I can’t take it. I cannot find the compassion or love within me to give her the tenderness she is longing for because I am spent.

I pat her head mechanically. I keep trying to read my book. My breath is shallow. I am full of rage.

This is what happens when you are a single mother I suppose. My mother told me she used to let us stay up late so she wouldn’t be by herself during the nights. That’s a lot of pressure for a child.

My mother. Who is slowing down fast. Who mentions daily how lonely she is. Who only ever wanted to love and be loved and look where we are now.  I am so angry I cannot stand to be in the same room as her.

And now I am hiding downstairs feeling one part guilty and the other part fiercely protective.

Because who is going to care for me now that she is fading fast. This woman of interminable strength and independence is breaking down and it’s my job to help her and it’s really hard and I gotta conserve my energy and I’m doing my best and yoga helps (and so do chips).

So I take my dog for a walk cause I want to buy or find or steal a smoke and it’s really hot out and I’m walking all over town and the cashier at the grocery store knows my mom so I can’t ask there and my brothers friend is in the gas station so I can’t ask there and my buddy Charlie used to smoke but his mom is home and his mom is tight with my mom and I can’t even buy smokes in this goddamn town without it getting back to her. I have to be careful because people here actually care.

They are looking out for you. They would tell your mom on you because they would want you to stop being such a dip shit.

Isn’t that the worst?

After an hour of running up and down small town side streets in the hot sun my dog stops. She stops and lies down. She is so fucking tired she can hardly breathe anymore and I haven’t even noticed cause I’m trying to steal me a smoke so bad. She literally just won’t go any further.

So I call my mom and I tell her where we are and she drives down the road and picks us up and she takes a wrong turn and I want to yell “you stupid tired old bitch you have lived here for 20 years why don’t you know where you are going?” and the way she frets over Midge makes me see red. She puts a cool towel on the dog’s head and gives her water out of her outstretched palm and she is terribly worried. I don’t thank my mom for the ride. I grab the car keys and I drive a far ways out of town for the smokes and I feel better having them even though I don’t smoke them. Just knowing that they are there in case of an emergency.