The Monday after Easter we have things on our list. Hiking and hair dye. M hates the brassiness of her hair color. She won't ask me to dye it, so I offer. For some reason, this seems very intimate to me and I can tell she's nervous about asking anyway. But I want to do it.
So we go to Kmart, one of her favorite shops [insert the sound of me cackling here] and as all women, no matter what shop you find yourself in for one item, we end up trekking through the entire store. (Hey, I found a bunch of toddler clothes on sale for my son, so it turned out to be a great idea.) But something else, something about sidling up next to her, doing inherently female things together, nay, mother-daughter things like shopping...it felt so natural. I didn't realize how much I'd craved it, considering my non-existent-maybe-my-birthday-card-won't-say-passive-aggressive-things-in-it-this-year adoptive mother.
She tried on 3 different pairs of shoes while I stood there laughing and commenting (we have very different tastes: cork bottomed platform sandals? Meh, not so much.) I tried on scarves (she says I have too many, but then sends me one after she returns home from her visit.) We looked at cute bras, handbags, and even make-up. She buys a lipstick that she ends up not liking. She tells me it would look better on me. I don't think so, but try it and realize it's great. I've been wearing it every day since.
Later, we meet the sitter at my house so that she and I can take our little hike at the local wildlife refuge near the bay. It's spectacular and our conversation is just as amazing. She shares with me how plain she felt growing up and how it caused her to act out to get attention when she was a teen. She looks me square in the face and says, "after I had you, I went on birth control. That's why I look so fat in those pictures." For the record, she wasn't exactly fat. But considering what a stick she is now, I guess some would call that fat. She was terrified of getting pregnant again. It sounded like it didn't stop her from dating shitty guys. But hey, that's some people for ya. Apparently, her husband literally pined after her all those years. Interesting how we come back around to ourselves, our original selves. The one in the end that we always were anyways. She found her true love in a man she rejected for years because...he knew exactly who she was. They've been married nearly 25 years now.
We hiked and hiked and hiked and...hiked. Not realizing that we'd missed our turn in order to take the short route, we had no choice but to continue on our way and finish the 5 mile loop. To the chagrin of my babysitter, whom I promised I'd be back at a certain time. Well, that time came and went and of course, I started to royally freak out. I mean, I was really trying to hold it together, but with every new bend we came to in the road and no end in sight...my heart started racing.
Of course, too, I had no juice on me just in case I had a low blood sugar while hiking---which I never do. Oh my god, so unsafe. Then, I realized as we were turning a bend that looked familiar (Yay! we're almost back to the car! This was supposed to be a fun hike not a freak-out death-march!) I realize that I do not have my phone with me. One word: fuuuuuuck.
So I start jogging. I kid you not. I'm leaving M in the dust as I try to get to the car and hurry to then, in a confused and weird sort of way, save maybe 1 1/2 minutes by picking her up? Anyways, we still have a 30 minute drive back to the house. Nice.
I know what you're picturing and you are 100% right: I flipped-out. As we're driving home, I'm just going on and on about how awful this is. How upset my sitter must be. How rude of me. How I can't believe I missed the turn on the hike. And basically just repeated OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODs. Irritatingly so, to be sure.
But M just sat there and listened. She was calm and understanding and told me not to worry; everyone's human.
After I paid my sitter about double to make amends for my folly, M just started laughing at me. In a very amused sort of way. When MAC, my partner got home from work, they just had a giggle fest over me. He goes, "Ya, she goes to this place and there's no bringing her back---you just have to ride it out with her". I'm thinking, Screw you guys! But they were right. They were spot on. And they were both people who'd shown me they were indeed willing to accept that weird part of me and ride the wave of my random-onset-why-the-hell-is-she-so-worried-anxiety out with me. By my side.
Later, it hit me that it was important she see me like that. I do generally stay calm. Not too much fazes me at this point in my life: people cussing me out because of their own personal problems, weird admissions, crazy and painful incidents in people's lives---I'm all ears and no freak-outs. People actually constantly comment on how collected and neutral I stay, I kid you not. It's something I pride myself on. However, if I think I've hurt someone, insulted someone, made someone feel disrespected, look out, I flip! Even if it's a honest to god mistake, even if they know it and tell me to calm the hell down. But especially if they catch onto my anxiety over it and kind of start manipulating my feelings, oh man, do I become an emotional wreck the size of the Titanic. Forget a life preserver, I need the flippin' Coast Guard in a seabird at that point.
My point is that she saw me with my guard down. We're talking completely down. And she was ok with it. She actually said she was relieved by it. She even admitted to me how her husband said to her before she came, "What will you do if she gets really angry at you, M? About your giving her up for adoption? What if she gets really freaking angry at you finally?" She said, "Well, I'll have to deal with it. And then probably get a hotel room." Ha! But little did she know I tend to only flip out when I think I've hurt others. Sad, but true. I'm still doing the heavy, personal work of allowing my valid anger to surface with people---especially those closest to me.
So that night, after a giggly dinner that definitely involved everyone having some beer, we dyed her hair a rich, reddish brown. Her hair is quite thin. It was nice just to be close to her. Strange as that sounds. I think, deep down, I just wanted to be near her face. I never got to be. I forgot until recently how much children like to be close to our adult faces. My son is officially a toddler now and so his dexterity and coordination gets better every day. He often comes up to my face just to look at it, grab it, pet it, caress it.
This is the only way I can describe my feelings about dying M's hair. I just wanted to be close to her face. To examine it. To stare at it. To memorize it.
Never let it go, really.