Driving can seem exotic to me sometimes, especially out on highways that i don’t frequent. Cars aren’t something that are especially typical of my Philadelphia routine, other than various friends and acquaintances saving my ass from the winter chill by driving me back from the theatre at night. I got us to my house okay, but after that i was blind as to where we were or how we got there … just desperately trying to align myself via the river and signs pointing North to New York.
My romantic life being what it is, my mother has never had a girlfriend of mine to meet, and so we stopped by my house on Reed street on our way to New Jersey to see if she was around. She was, albeit barely in her underwear when i first opened the door unannounced, but mom was not about the give up the chance to meet an in-the-flesh significant other of mine who drives her own car and is bringing me home with her for the day.
I played chameleon as best i could in blue jeans and grey shirt against the hood of her car as my mom engaged us in idle chatter, trying to understand how she must come off the first time you meet her without my nervously cracking jokes to get in the way. My mother and i live on our torment of each other, mocking back and forth as we breathlessly converse, and to other people we seem too entangled in this strange familial subculture to be penetrated or understood. Idle chatter it was, about the rain that seemed to be on the way and where we were going. We finally ran out of steam (left without too many of our typical sarcastic remarks; on our best behaviour), and my mother gave me a kiss and a hug and, before i could turn around to walk back to the passenger side of the car, my mother gave her a kiss and a hug too. Hope to see you again, or something. That’s what she said.
Back in the car i was just madly grinning and fiddling with my seatbelt until my mother was safely across the street and back into our row home before i turned around and said “Well, that wasn’t so bad afterall.”
And, all of that was before New Jersey.