54 :: avoidance strategy :: 7/6/01
Right now Freya is in the bathroom, cleaning the toilet. This is a task that she never does unless there is something else that she wants to do even less. The toilet's handle is stamped with the word Mansfield. She has the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" in her head. Just put me in a wheelchair / get me to the plane / hurry hurry hurry / before I go insane. She shakes some Comet into the bowl in time with her internal percussion.
The thing that she wants to do even less is return her mother's phone call.
Answering machine message: Freya, honey, hi, it's Mom. [deep exhalation] Would you call here? Timmy's gotten himself in trouble. I need your advice. I just can't figure out what that kid is thinking. Maybe you can make some sense of the whole thing. Anyway, look, just call here, as soon as you can. I love you. Bye.
This message drove Freya straight to a cigarette. After she smoked that one she smoked another one. Then she went into the bathroom to splash some water on her face and thought oh, look, the sink's dirty. And once you've gone to the trouble to get the Comet and the scrub brush out, you might as well do the other porcelain surfaces as well. She'll do the tub next, and after that it'll definitely be too late to call her mom back. Which is a Good Thing.
Especially if Tim's in trouble. Tim is her half-brother, age fifteen. In any conflict between him and Mom, she always finds herself siding internally with him, but Mom has a way of backing Freya into a position where she's forced to fake some sympathy. When she can pull it off, the lie of it makes her feel physically sick. When she can't pull it off, she's looking at a one-hour fight.
What she'd really like to do is call home and talk to Tim and give him strategies for how to deal with Mom. Freya has enough stored up from her own stormy adolescence; some of them must be still useful. But Tim doesn't have his own cell phonenot until he's olderand there's no good way to call the house without running the risk of having to talk to the maternal unit. Bom bom bom bom / ba-bom bom bom / I wanna be sedated!
Freya could use some strategies herself. She once thought that once she became an adult, her relationship with her mom would magically smooth out. But that hasn't happened. Her mom continuously bugs her on the issues of boyfriend and particularly school; she never really recovered from when Freya dropped out of college in her second year in order to play drums. In a fit of exasperation, years ago, Freya once mentioned that she might go back to school "if the paperwork wasn't such a pain in the ass": her mom decided to "help her," going so far as to send her an envelope full of partially-filled-out FAFSA forms that year. Ever since then, the line if you need my help getting back to your education, just let me know has been a regular staple of their conversations.
Then there's the Boyfriend Conversation. She might actually be able to make some headway there, now that she's going out with Jakob, a guy her mom might actually like. But she knows the questions that her mom will inevitably ask. Questions she doesn't have the answers to. Is it serious? and the related etcetera. She and Jakob have not yet had any sort of conversation about what their relationship "means," and she likes it that way. They get together, they do something, they make out, fuck, have breakfast: then later they do it all over again. And it makes her happy. It seems so simple and easy in her own head, but she knows (from experience) that she will find herself strangely unable to convey that perfect alignment to her mother. Arrrrgh.
Twenty twenty twenty four hours to go! She flushes.