I would rather not go see her.
I would have ignored her pleading phone call, so low-tech and useless. I imagined her fumbling with her cell phone and being so ridiculous. She couldn't make a cell phone work if her life depended on it! No wonder I never answer her calls.
I called her back but it was a wasted effort. I tried to get her to use her Instagram account. She didn't know how to sign in or use a password! She would apologize and say "Emma! I'm so sorry to be wasting your time like this." What? Did my time really count for anything?
So here I am on a train to nowhere, beating myself for taking time to visit when I have no time. It has been literally years since I've made the trip, working two part time jobs with two bosses who both want me to be available to work unlimited hours on short notice.
Tired all the time. No wonder I binge-watch anything and everything and I don't care where the food comes from– out of a can, or a box, just so long as I don't have to prepare it. She'd tell me how my eating habits are very poor. She doesn't know half of it! Starve. Eat. Then exercise and hope everything is fine.
I should teach her a lesson. Her life is so easy. Living in that fabulous house with all that furniture. And she has the nerve to tell me how to live my life! That's why I hardly ever call. Everyone texts these days. I send her texts that she doesn't know how to read. I feel guilty all the time but it's her fault!
Now she has cleared her calendar for me. How this will work is anyone's guess.
But that is how life is. Everything is a blur. It's so hard to focus on anything when looking out the train window. You snatch a look at a sign and then it's gone before you can read it. Makes me think of how my money disappears when I have so little of it to begin with. My two jobs barely cover my apartment rent and my food! Some of my friends are saving for a house. Good luck with that, I tell them. Me, I like to be realistic. I'm where I am for good. And it's not like I don't have jobs with responsibility and high expectations. It's laughable how much is expected of me for such little money! My life is so much trouble. Why add to it?
Then it occurred to me. I don't have to go. Why not make this the final visit? That delicious thought came to me like a revelation, like taking out my revenge on life! Make my own choices for once. If this person is not helpful, why continue the relationship? I decided to call her one last time.
“I can't make it.”
“Why? What's wrong?”
“Why is it so noisy?”
I hung up. Mission accomplished. Ecstatic, I notice that across the aisle, a small child, so enraptured with the toys and sounds that are so new, is clambering all over her mother. I couldn’t help smiling and when our eyes met, we share a moment, the mother and I, enjoying imagining together how special a train ride can be for a child.
Maybe there is hope for me after all. Prioritize. Set goals. Take charge and stop surviving. Live for a change.
My arrival shocks me out of my reverie. Time to trundle off the train. Just one bag. The train home wouldn’t be for another hour. I see a very familiar sign and I know it's time for something that tastes good going down and makes me feel so awful when I'm finished!
There is such a long line. Why do people eat this stuff? Why am I eating here? What is wrong with me? I take my tray to my table and plop down in my seat. There's an unwritten rule that I always follow to never look at anyone. That rule doesn't apply to groups of people though.
There’s a food fight in the corner, a bunch of guys acting up. At least I knew to stay away from them when I made up my mind where I wanted to sit. A girl on cleanup mopping the floor stops to talk to them. She tries to take their side and tells them that the manager will come and kick them out if they don't stop. It's like she's out for what's best for them, asking so nicely with a sweet smile. They throw food at her. I surprised myself by taking my cell phone out and starting a video as soon as I noticed there was trouble. Abuse and minimum wage jobs are classic.
The manager kicks those guys out of the restaurant. Then he turns on the hapless girl who was only trying to do her job the best way she knew how.
“Don't try to handle things yourself! Get me right away!” He turns on his heel leaving the girl in tears, only to yell one last time, “Go get yourself cleaned up!” She leaves for the employee area. I reviewed my video, and I'm surprised at how good it is. Got to love expensive cell phones. Practically the only thing that I own that is worth anything.
It's time to go. I clear up my trash and put it in the bin. The girl is back and she's coming towards me with her mop.
“I've got it all on video if you're interested,” I say.
Looking around to see where the manager is, she seems surprised but she gives me her email anyway. I send her the link. Then she smiles and we share a moment, one working person to another. “I know it can be hard sometimes,” I say. She only nods and starts mopping again.
Out in the restaurant parking lot, there's a car that I recognize. I don't pay much attention to it until it comes closer. The window starts to roll down.
“I was so worried Emma! There was so much noise when you were talking to me! Then when your cell phone stopped working, I knew there was something wrong! I had to come looking for you.”
“Oh, Mom! It's good to see you!”