An Interview

October 15, 2017

 

Me:

Can you start by telling us something about your childhood that’s sad?

 

Person:

Seriously?  (Laughing.) This is your first question?

 

Me:

I know.  Small talk is worthless.

 

Person:

So true.   (She pauses.  The pause gets longer.)  I wasn’t expecting this.  

 

Me:

Is it OK?  Do you want to answer?

 

Person:

Yeah.  I do.  (She pauses again.)  So what’s sad about my childhood is that I wasn’t loved.

 

Me:

(Not expecting THAT.)  What do you mean you weren’t loved?

 

Person:

Just that.  My parents didn’t seem to love me.  They loved their work and their friends and our house and their things, but their kids, I think, were just accessories.  I guess maybe they loved me because they were human beings and they had kids and I don’t know if it’s possible for any human to have a child and literally not love it.  But they didn’t love me the way parents are supposed to.

 

Me:

(Deep breath.)  Well.  I have other questions, but they seem sort of stupid now.  

 

Person:

Oh my gosh. Stop. They’re not stupid.  This is good.  I don’t want to talk a lot about that anyway.  What else do you have?

 

Me:

Let’s go just a little further with this first.  What did they do or not do that makes you say they didn’t love you?

 

Person:

(No pause.  She’s very clear on this.)  They hit me.  They ignored me.  They yelled at me.  They never said they were proud of me and they never complimented me.  No matter what I did, I never got noticed.  They only provided exactly what I needed and nothing more, nothing whimsical or sweet, not special things a little girl or even a teenage girl might like.  I left that house as soon as I was eighteen years old and they didn’t ever demand I come back or ask me to come back.  They didn’t want me.  

 

Me:

(Quiet.)

 

Person:

You don’t have to feel bad about it.  It was a long time ago.  But I don’t mean I’m over it.  It still haunts me and it always will, but I am an amazing mother so I’ve made up for their . . . whatever you call it . . .  and I see now how much they missed out on.  I sort of feel sorry for them.  

 

Me:

Are they still alive?

 

Person:

No.  And I’m glad.  It’s easier this way.  I got to finally stop wishing they’d one day be the parents I wanted them to be.  There’s no chance of that now.  So I was able to stop waiting.  It’s been a relief.

 

Me:

OK.  We could spend the entire time on just this, but I’ll go on.  Really, it’s all connected anyway.

 

(She nods and tells me that’s true and my heart hurts for her because I have always been loved.  Very much.)

 

Me:

What do you want that you don’t yet have?

 

Person:

Like an actual thing?  Like a car or something?  Or like a feeling?

 

Me:

It’s up to you.

 

Person:

(Pauses.  Looks away.  Then she looks back.)  I don’t have faith yet.  I don’t believe in God. 

 

Me:

Can you say more about that?

 

Person:

I mean I believe there could be a God.  I just don’t know it for sure like so many people seem to know it for sure.  Well they think they do.  Really nobody can know that for sure though. That’s why it’s called faith. And I don’t have it.

 

Me:

Are you trying to get it?

 

Person:

(Laughing.)  Well no.  So I guess I want it, but I’ll never get it because I’m not doing anything to get it.  Right?

 

Me:

I don’t know, but I was going to ask you what you believe in and this seems like a good time.  What do you believe in, in terms of a God or anything else.  Just in general. Tell me something you believe in.

 

Person:

These are hard fucking questions.

 

Me:

(Laughing.)  Good.  I said I’m not interested in small talk, only big.

 

Person:

OK.  I get it.  This is good.  What do I believe in?  (She looks around.)  I believe in forgiveness as a healer. 

 

Me:

Oh wow.  Tell me more about that.

 

Person:

Well first of all let me say that if whatever you are suffering has not ended, like physical abuse or ridicule or whatever negative thing someone else might be putting on you, then this is different.  It has to end first.  I don’t suggest that in the middle of being harmed, you just forgive.  But as long as what you were suffering from is over, you have to try to forgive.  By forgive, I mean not hold onto it with hate or resentment.  Don’t have any ill-wishes toward that person.  I’m not saying you have to accept them in your life.  I don’t mean that.  You can say, “Nope, you are forever out of my life.” But at the same time you have to forgive.  Know that it is over and that continuing to hate is like continuing whatever bad thing happened.  It is not letting it end.

 

Me:

My gosh. That’s a really profound way of thinking of it.  It’s not letting it end.

 

Person:

I know.  Maybe forgiveness isn’t even the right word.  Maybe we don't have a word for it.  

 

Me:

I think we don't have words for a lot of things.  There are things we just know in the heart and soul.  There is not language for it and there never will be, but we try to explain it anyway and then it gets all confused.  This is one of those things maybe.

 

Person:

Exactly. So I call it forgiveness, but that might not be it.  Forgiveness might make us think that you are saying it’s OK or that you’ve forgotten.  It doesn’t have to be OK and you don't have to forget.  You just can’t give it weight every day forever.  

 

Me:

Weight.

 

Person:

Yes, weight.  

 

Me:

I want to talk about this now.  For, like, the whole day!

 

Person:

I know. I told you. These questions are fucking crazy.  

 

Me:

No.  You said they were hard.

 

Person:

(Laughing.) Same thing.

 

Me:

So the point of this is to hit a lot of deep ideas, but not to stay too long right now with any one of them.  I hoped maybe readers would do that for themselves, later, when this is over. So I am going to move on, but it doesn’t mean I don’t think we could stop and spend all of our time talking more about what we’ve already said. 

 

Person:

Oh yeah.  I totally get that.  Go. What else?

 

Me:

OK.  What is something you would love to be doing, but you’re not?

 

Person.

Shit.  (Deep breath.  Sighs it out her mouth and rubs her eyes.)  So many things.  I’m not hiking for one thing.

 

Me:

Why? 

 

Person:

Oh you know.  Because I have to watch stupid shit on Netflix and I have to argue with people on Facebook and I have drag my kid all over to shit she doesn’t even take seriously.  You know.  That’s what good moms do.  

 

Me:

Yes, I’ve heard.  (We both laugh.)  What else?  What else would you love to be doing, but you’re not?

 

Person:

(She takes in another deep breath, let’s it out very slowly.)  I would love to sing in front of people.  

 

Me:

You sing?

 

Person:

I do.  And I might be good. Not like Adele or anything, but just nice to listen to.  

 

Me:

So how can you do that? Sing in front of people.

 

Person:

I know how.  I can do that just like I do everything else I do, things that don’t even matter.  I can just do it.  That’s it.  (She pauses for another one of those breaths.)

 

Person:

I can just fucking do it before there’s no time left.

 

(We are both quiet.  These things are heavy.)

 

Me:

What is something nobody has said to you, either ever or at least for a very long time?  Something you would just really like to hear.  

 

Person:

(More deep breaths and mumbling this question under her breath and looking away.)

I’d like to be told I’m beautiful.  I don’t mean the kind of beautiful people say when you post a picture of you and your daughter at a wedding and they say it to mean you look good all cleaned up and mothers and daughters are a pretty scene and all that.  That’s nice, but it’s not the same.

 

Me:

So how exactly do you mean then?  (I ask, but I think I know.)

 

Person:

I mean like really and truly just to me.  I want to be face to face with someone staring right into me, even with all of my flaws and even with all of the more beautiful people to compare me to.  I want someone to notice me and really mean it and say I’m beautiful. 

 

Me:

(Deep breath.)

 

Person:

I want to hear how that sounds again. I want to feel it.  I miss that.

 

(We are both quiet, probably thinking what we both know……that being beautiful doesn’t matter at all next to everything else, but still . . . )

 

Person:

I sort of think that time has passed though.

 

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