I thought I have been doing a good job holding back my tears.
I thought I was strong… In fact, I was pretty surprised at how well I’m coping with the situation I’m in now. Work has been crazy—good crazy—it leaves me with no time for day dreaming or the human mind version of the vacuum effect – the culling of current occupants of the mind only becomes an excellent breeding ground for new ones.
I was supposed to be going to London and Italy next month. All that badgering to get my leave approved and for me to check the rates for my own flight, and to find out which places I want to go, and to book the hotels. My father has already been to Europe, so while he gave animated suggestions about where tourists usually go to, he doesn’t want to revisit those places. My mother, as always, doesn’t give a damn where we go and how we get there, as long as she likes what she sees. Other travellers take months to plan their Europe trip. I have three weekends. Then yesterday, my mother told us that she tried to apply for leave from work but her project deadline has been moved forwards and she feared we may have to leave for London a few weeks later. My boss has been very understanding about this, but I hate behaving like 20 year old who can’t make up her mind.
It disturbs me that my parents don’t think very highly of my job. My father’s snide remarks about me “just playing around with the computer all day” or being insistent on me “just leaving the house earlier” so I can be in time to meet them for an early dinner is getting on my nerves. But then again, nothing I ever do is good enough for them.
This, and what just happened with my cat and my mother’s plants, only brings me back to those angsty teenage years I had put behind me. Here I am, buying my own meals, paying my own bills, offering to pay some of my mother’s bills to take the load off her finances, thinking I’m all grown up. Today, I’m reminded of all the years I had spent arguing with her over my privacy and the freedom to make friends. Of how a score of 98 in Math was disappointing because a careless mistake had cost me 2 points. She hasn’t changed. I’ve just grown older.
Not too long ago, I thought I had a very good chance of escaping this. I had a knight in shining armour who lifted the dull spell that had cast a shadow over me and promised to rescue me from my tower of darkness, and we would run away from the invisible shackles that bound us painfully to the people who have given us life. But my warrior had grown weary and had given up on his quest, and I am suddenly back to square one. I am that little girl who stopped studying, because she realised it didn’t make much of a difference. I was the teenage girl who played hooky from Creative Writing class on weekends because her over-protective parents didn’t allow her to go out with her friends. I was the girl in her early twenties who went out every day and partied till wee hours in the morning because she couldn’t stand being at home.
After my last vacation to Tokyo with my parents three years ago, I told myself to never ever travel with them again. No matter how enticing the idea of going to Europe is, I have told them repeatedly that I’d prefer if they’d go without me. Of course they piled on the guilt about my father’s impending retirement, which may mean our chances of travelling would diminish significantly. The urge to cancel is extremely strong.
Sometimes, I get angry thinking about how my brother has flown the coop and gone far away to New Zealand—on our mother’s account, no less—and left me here alone with them. Recently, I have come to envy his apparent lack of responsibility and ability to distance himself physically and emotionally from this family without a tinge of guilt. At 30, I’m still living with the parents because my father doesn’t believe in the notion of his unmarried children living away from him. I’m still trying hard to seek validation and approval from every one, still trying to believe someone will see the goodness in me and love me. I’m back to square one.
My parents haven’t changed, and neither have I. We’ve just grown much, much older.