So my mother and I had the talk recently.
No, not the “sex talk.” Cripes we had that talk when I was five years old. And no, I wasn’t a slutty lil’ kindergartner, I just had a very active imagination -- I wanted to grow up to be a duck.
In my five-year-old head, ducks had the life. They got to swim all day long, live in my favorite park and ate bread that visitors to the park fed them. When it got cold, ducks packed it up and flew south where I assumed they lived in another really pretty park until it was warm enough to return to Allentown.
So whenever anyone asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up? A nurse like your mommy.” I proudly announced that I was going to be a duck. Most people found this cute. My mom found it embarrassing. And so one evening, after I spent most of my bath time practicing being a duck, my mom sat me on her bed and explained that only mommy ducks and daddy ducks could make baby ducks and only baby ducks could grow up to be big ducks.
An hour later, after many questions on my part my mother the nurse had told me everything I needed to know about sex. Well, not everything. She didn’t tell me it was enjoyable. She also didn’t mention anything about oral sex.
The talk my mother and I had recently was about who was going to take care of them when they could no longer take care of themselves.
It started out innocently enough. She was telling me all about the houses she was finding on the Internet in South Carolina and how in just a couple of years her and my father would be able to retire there. Then she asked if I would visit them in South Carolina and I responded, “of course.”
“You will? You promise?”
“Of course, I will.” I hadn’t looked up from the magazine I was reading, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t listening.
“Tatiana, this is very important.”
I put my magazine down. “Mom, of course I will visit you. You will be near a beach won’t you?”
She sighed. “It’s just that with Ivan so far away and Lana, well, you know Lana,”
“I just think that most of the responsibility of caring for us when we are older will fall on you.”
The room started to spin and my vision started to cloud. I grabbed my glass of wine and took a large sip.
“I’m not worried so much about me -- I don’t have longevity on my side, but your father. I need to know that you will be there to take care of him.”
This conversation has haunted me ever since.
Not that my parents are in bad shape. Quite the opposite, they are both in great health and only getting better since they joined a gym near their house.
I’m just not ready for this sort of responsibility. I remember when Wharton and I were breaking up and he said something about not being able to handle a serious girlfriend at the time because his life was so in flux and he couldn’t be responsible for someone else’s feelings when making the decisions he had to make over that next year.
At the time I thought it was a line. Hell, maybe it was. But it was a good one because now I know exactly how that feels.
It was these thoughts, in part, that shut my brain down a few weeks ago. When I finally rebooted, I realized I have been spending so much time trying to control thinks I can’t while letting the things that are in my power to change get away from me. For instance, while worrying myself sick about my future as my parents caretaker, I wasn’t writing -- at all. The thing is, the only way this novel is going to get published is if I write it. And the only way I am going to become a rich and famous writer is to publish my first novel.
Once I am a rich and famous writer I won’t have to worry so much about whether or not I will be able to visit my parents in South Carolina often enough. After all rich people don ‘t have to worry about old parents -- they pay big bucks to make them someone else’s problem.