I'm my mother's best friend. I fear she is my only friend. My mother and I live alone together in the San Fernando Valley. We used to own two cats, both male, but they pissed the bed, my bed, so I kicked them out. My mother didn't say anything when I slammed the door shut on their furry compact bodies. She only squinted in my general direction from her perch on the couch before returning to Hallmark on the TV.
I used to have a brother, which means my mother used to have a son. My brother left us three years ago. He walked one morning to school and never walked back. When I called him to ask where he was, he said he went where the Wi-Fi's better. My mother keeps my brother's room just as he left it. She still feeds the cats too. The surviving one, anyway. The other one got ran over by a car. My mother puts one bowl of cat food out every night. She hides this bowl behind a bush in the front yard. She says she hides the dish from other animals, but I know she hides it from me.
My mother and I are a lot alike. We have brown hair and the same rectangle body. She taught me how to give an outstanding back massage on an oversized teddy bear when I was in high school. She was kneading the teddy bear's lumpy shoulders in small, circular motions, her thumbs applying firm but tender pressure, when she said to me, "I give the best back rubs on the block." I mastered the techniques she imparted that day. A week before I broke up with my second boyfriend, he wrote me a poem. In it he called me a "back rub angel." This is the only thing I remember from our relationship. The few men I have dated all wanted to meet my mother. I never allowed them to meet her, but spoke of her often to them. I don't think I have ever truly let anyone in aside from my mother. I wish my boyfriends had asked to meet my father instead. I would also like to meet my father.
I often do upsetting things to test if people really love me. My mother says she outgrew pushing people away when she turned twenty-five. The year she turned twenty five was the same year she was cast in a Mexican soap opera. It was the year she met Leonardo DiCaprio. Leo was also living in Mexico at the time, filming Romeo and Juliet. Mother says she stayed up most nights partying and doing drugs with Leo, while Claire Danes, his Juliet, retired to her hotel room early to study lines. My mother played a prostitute in the soap opera.
My mother cries in front of me more than anyone else's mother cries in front of them. It's been a while since I've fact checked this. I used to have friends, but I stopped leaving the house a couple of years ago. My references have become outdated. I don't miss people. I don't miss them telling me what they think I want to hear or what they hope is true about me. People rarely imagine they are close friends with someone abnormal. When my fifth grade teacher chastised me for talking during class, I knew I was abnormal. There was no one seated next to me. I hadn't realized I'd been talking. I guess I've been talking to myself ever since. When I'm alone, that is, which I nearly never am. Mother is supportive of my every endeavor. I trained to be a professional dancer from age five to twenty-one. During those years my mother learned every dance routine I learned so she could show me how best to move my body. I stopped leaving the house because I liked spending time with my mother and myself more than I liked being around other people. The day I told her I would be living at home from now on, my mother bought me a book on gardening, some vegetable seeds, and a couple of chickens. The chickens died within a year from internal parasites but the squash are doing well.
One night before I never left home, I went to a party like a member of my generation. My childhood best friend Ventura took me with her, even though she didn't have to since she talks easily and abundantly to anyone. At the party Ventura introduced me to a few of her friends before she disappeared into a crowd. A fat, bearded man danced next to me. His brown eyes were wet. He screamed in every face that passed him. I screamed in his face, "Do you have drugs" because I saw someone do this once on YouTube and I have always wanted to do drugs in the bathroom with a stranger. The drug was a powder we snorted in neat lines off his dead phone screen. It felt stringent in my nose. I was risking my life so I had a new story to tell my mom.
My father left her for one of his students, an eighteen-year-old prodigy of his AP English Literature class. When my father and his student moved to New York to be a writer couple, my mother began wearing tampons every day. She said she felt better that way, felt clean. But this year she downloaded a couple of dating apps and started having sex with younger men. My mother makes sure to text me a couple of hours before she has "a friend over" so I can prepare. I prepare by setting up my old camping tent in the backyard. On the nights my mother has sex, I take the opportunity to sleep under the stars and practice my constellation knowledge. I tell myself long stories out loud so I won't hear any sounds leaking from the house. I like the sound of my voice.
I don't have a job. My mother says my work is the work of discovering the self. My mother runs a furniture repair shop. Her work is fixing the mistakes of others. This work is long and pays very little. When my mother cries, she's usually crying about money. I hate when my mother cries about this because there is nothing I can do to help her, and, to be honest, the guilt I feel about living off my mother really is counterproductive to the work of discovering myself. But boy do my mother and I make each other laugh. Once our laughing starts, it is very hard for us to stop. One time before leaving for school I said to my mother, "Let's do this thing called life." We didn't stop laughing until the following morning. We even laugh sometimes in the middle of a fight. When I make my mother laugh during a fight I know she is grateful I am alive. I know she is proud of herself for making me.
My father was a rich man. My mother and him used to live in the Hollywood Hills. When they separated shortly after the birth of my brother, she had to move to a two-bedroom apartment across from Universal Studios. We lived off of his child support for a while, and when that ran low, she created the business she cries over today. My mother is a hardworking woman who would rather not work.
The only man I ever saw my mother kiss was a blonde on the set of her friend's country music video, 15 years ago. During the shoot I sat reading by the craft table, occasionally looking up to watch adults in sexy farm attire munch on carrots and ranch. That night I watched a blonde man kiss my mother from the backseat of her car. He brushed his well-manicured hands through my mother's wavy brown hair. He cupped her chin lightly. I didn't know my mother's face could be held like that. We didn't talk on the drive home. The next morning over bowls of heart-healthy Cheerios I broke our silence. I asked her for a cat. That night she bought me two.