Strange human encounters

I walked into an open door at the grocery store. A woman walked out just as I stepped through and she snipped at me, “This! Is! The! OUT DOOR!” And my blood boiled at this righteous woman being so snippy that I yelled back, “Oh yeah! Just like your mouth, that door was open!” 
But actually I didn’t say anything, I just looked back at her, her black curls around bouncing away and all the rage I felt came out as I said back at her, “Whatever!” It was a whisper. A hot wasted breath when I could have been: 1) mature 2) a grown lady 3) slow to anger like Beyoncé 4) reggaeton hip swirling like Rihanna 5) confusing the hell out of people as to why I’m dancing next to the bread loaves. 

All better choices than getting mad at a stranger! Especially when I was wrong. And I could have just said sorry! Instead of being filled with the kind of adrenaline that could lift a car off a baby. Maybe that’s how I could save lives, like a dispatcher calls me and mutters, “Well I know why you didn’t have a boyfriend in high school and there’s a cat stuck up a tree,” and I would be so enraged that I would uproot the tree and save the cat and hate that kind of job forever. 

And to say, “Whatever!” All the years I spent in speech and debate and general Internet message board one upmanship should have equipped me with something more cutting than a line from the movie Clueless. I calmed myself down by buying a pumpkin pie, learning that it was $3 off and I got a tub of fresh whipped cream for free. Nothing soothes the savage beast of an islander in the wrong like a pie on sale. 

Whatever, It was delicious. 

I took my mom out to shop for clothes. I told her I would be in the dressing room trying on some things. A few minutes later, I hear my mom calling out to me then knocking on the door. She said in Chamorro that she wanted to sit down but there was a man on the bench and she was ashamed to ask him to move over, which is something my Americanized mouth would have said. So she wanted to sit in the room, a dressing room smaller than an IKEA dinner table. And I let her in. And she watched me try on clothes and of course said things like, “That’s too tight,” and “That’s definitely too tight,” and the ever magical, “That’s too young.” 

It also reminded me why I can never get a tattoo while my mother is alive. She’s forbidden it and I know most people would say, you’re an adult, you can do what you want! But most people didn’t grow up under the Catholic administration of my mother, where fear still remains long after I’ve left the home. And also because, it doesn’t matter if I’m an adult, my mom will find some way to see if I have a cherry blossom tree on my back that I cannot explain as a mysterious growth. 

I did the most adult thing which is buy two Halloween costumes on sale: a Darth Vader dress in two sizes–one for my 10-year-old niece and one for myself. Maybe people will see us together and confuse us for twins, wherein one twin has a hormone problem and needs to let go of some long held grudges. But I’m ready for next year! How do I look? 


Not quite magic

When I was a kid, my brother told me that if I ever wanted to wake up at a certain time, I would just have to look at the clock and visualize the time I wanted to wake up. If you want to wake up at 5 am, think about 5 am. I don’t know why I would ever think of that as a child, but somehow it worked. I’ve never had to use an alarm clock, unless I wanted a quick nap and my weirdo-trick might not work. But it always works. I never oversleep. I also never sleep in, thanks to two kids who always yank me out of whatever dream I am dreaming which is likely blurry but wonderful
and never involves working out or begging my kids to please come home with their lunch bags, even if it’s at 5 am.
I worry when my cat Lilo (named after Lilo and Stitch!) is super affectionate with me because cats know shit. Like earthquakes and when old people will die. So sometimes when my cat is super cuddly and gets on my lap and purrs, I look into her eyes and ask, “Is this it, Lilo? Is this my time?” I wish I could just get her to agree that she won’t eat my face if I die on the couch, having eaten a whole sandwich without sitting up, the remote still in hand and some Bravo re-run flickering on the tv. I would really appreciate it if she could also go into my phone and clear my search history and paw some messages to my family like, “Hi sister, I was the only who broke your Caboodles but I’m gone now, so sorry about that,” or “Sorry brother, remember when you asked me to take a message if that girl calls? Well I told her that you no longer live at home, so that’s probably why you never went out. Oopsies!”



We bought the kids some expensive magic trick kit a few months ago and they recently went through and demonstrated it like it was a real magic show. It was the cutest thing. I had to pretend I didn’t know that the handkerchief disappeared into a plastic thumb, especially when TJ performed the trick for a second time and put the thumb on the wrong finger. But it was fun to watch these two little kids of mine navigating this entertainment world and enjoying the oohs and aahhhs from a mother who knew but pretended not to because that’s really what parenting is: a series of sleight of hand tricks where we never let on what we actually know, what we actually give up and suffer through if it brings kids the magic they deserve.

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