Enid had sexy sleepy brown eyes like Candy Darling, big beautiful pools filled with sadness and longing. She was my boyfriend’s mother and we had a stormy relationship. She was in her mid thirties when me, a high school junior, and her son, a high school sophomore, would come to her home together to sleep over and have sex.
Sometimes she let us sleep in his room together and sometimes she made him drag a mattress into the living room where he would sleep while I took the privacy of his room. We would still have sex on one of the beds when we got a chance but it looked like we didn’t, maybe?
Sometime she would lose it and yell at him and call me a slut in her rant about what he was doing and what was wrong about his behavior. That was back in the day when “Jane you ignorant slut,” was a catchphrase and it was not as socially unacceptable a thing to say. Still, while the word was the furthest thing from the truth in a description of me, it stung and I took on the venom behind it.
Mothers can be assholes. They deal with pressures beyond ordinary people’s understandings. Once the outbursts were over I put them behind me. Most of the time she was kind, cool, friendly. She fed me and was super easy going about our teenage love, a love in which we were way over our heads. We had sex and fought like cats and dogs and listened to the loudest most aggressive music like the Bad Brains and the Dead Kennedys. With that in mind, she was a saint. She let us get away with more than my uptight mother, that’s for sure.
Enid would make fun of certain music we listened to or movies that we thought were the be all end all, like Billy Jack, a film about a bunch of mope-y victims according to her. She was so different from my family. She was loud about her opinions in a way that scared me, a way that I would eventually become.
Life danced on and Enid bought me a beautiful pair of earrings for my high school graduation. I saw less and less of her as my boyfriend and I broke up and got back together over the years and we crashed in different places in Manhattan more often instead of going back to her apartment in Queens.
Around that time Enid got breast cancer. She battled with it for a while but eventually got really sick. I was in college and her son and I were broken up when I heard that she was near the end of her life. I went to see her, greatly wanting to be there for this woman that I cared about deeply and went through so much with.
I was at a bit of a low point in my life and was already limited in my social skills and communication skills. I had no idea how to act in such a situation. I brought along with me a little booklet that a hippie girl at the health food store had given me. It was a handmade little Xeroxed booklet with some spiritual quotes in it, most of which I did not understand, little of which I remember. One said “My god serves mindfulness.” It would be decades before I was anything close to mindful but I liked the look and the feel and the spirit of this odd booklet that found its way into my hands.
I went to see her in her bedroom. She was lying down. I gave the book to Enid and said that it helped me and that I hoped that it helped her. She confessed to me that she was scared. I felt the weight of her fear. It was real. I am not sure if she ever told anyone else what she was telling me. I felt way too inadequate for the privilege of being present for such honesty. I truly did not have the capacity to respond to her, or to express what was inside of me. I wanted to take her fear and fix it. I would have done anything to make the fear be mine and not hers. I wanted desperately to make it all better but of course I couldn’t. I had no idea what to do or say. I could not express any of this to her. I sat there in silence with the best intentions and my dizzying inability to do anything. Then I read her a few pages from the booklet, these simple spiritual tokens. I told her that I did not understand them but that they helped me. And she listened and said she thought she understood it, a little. We were quiet for a while and than it was time for me to go. I did not see her again before she passed away. I still have the earrings she gave me and she is still with me all these years later. Always will be.