So once again I found myself, three days ago, sitting on the tarmac via Norwegian Air breathing deeply as I recalled a similar “unknown” some seven years earlier en route to my birthplace of The Netherlands. What will be waiting for me there and what will I bring back? Seven years ago I was less than a year away from publishing my first book (NOT SO BLACK AND WHITE) doing a bit of damage control upon stumbling onto a You Tube clip of a Dutch touring company using my father’s choreography without permission. I made an impromptu purchase for a flight to the Netherlands to make my presence known and revisit many old memories. I returned home with some small sense of accomplishment, long overdue emotional closure with my former husband and a new beginning & ending to the book I was about to publish. I didn’t make that trip with any writing-related agenda but an important edit and approach to my book found me. Life does that sometimes. You think you are in search of it but instead it finds you with a different plan and often a more interesting challenge.
This time around, I am beginning work on my second memoir which is the story about my mother and our strange lives together; a mother I’ve never really known and has never seemed very interested in knowing me. And since writing that first book much has also shifted, opened up and offered new pathways to my story and my truth. For one thing, although it is still me in search of answers, it is fast becoming-and absolutely more interesting-my mother’s story. It will still remain partly mine as well because I remain the daughter in search of unanswered questions but even the questions have already changed. Initially, I always had the intention to go back to The Netherlands to do research for this book but with no determined wish to see my own mother there. This might sounds strange or counter intuitive, seeing as it is after all a mother/daughter story but there has never been any instance (not one) where I have seen my mother (around four times in forty years) when it has ended anywhere close to positive. I expected nothing would change, other than being disappointed and having another piece of my heart broken yet again. However, once people got wind of my trip, I got a clamoring of “You should see your mother!” I have been getting this response from the best intentioned, my whole life so why was this different? Because we’re both older and just a little closer to the reality of mortality. So, I surrendered and said “Yes” to seeing her while in Holland for quite possibly the last time. When I’d made this decision, I called her and left a message telling her when I’d be there and would she like to meet. I got no response and no more voice mail. I called every day (with few exceptions) and she never picked up until…the day before I got on the plane.
Fast forward. The mother who disappeared from my life since age ten. whom I spoke to on the phone once in a blue sun ending in her hanging up on me and whom I saw equally infrequently ending in more salt in the old open wound actually WANTED to see me. In her own twisted and confusing way this seemed to be what I was meant to decipher. She had called and chewed me out for not yet calling while I was with a friend at the Rijks Museum and called again the next day. I have no idea what to expect but I will be seeing her-tomorrow.
And so it really does seem that this mother/daughter chronicle is on its way. Stay tuned as this story continues to unfold.