Back when I was learning to knit, I took on a particularly ambitious project, and before I could figure out the difference from a knit and purl stitch I attempted to make a kimono with leftover yarn my mother gave me from a baby-blanket project she gave up crocheting. Sitting at the porch, my friend P asked if she could do a row. She made a comment on my tension when she’d passed it back, and the next time we went to the store she bought me more yarn for my project.
On my birthday she would send me Amazon gift cards to feed my love of books. After I visited her home in Germany in 2012, she mailed me “The Little Prince”, a beautiful story she was stunned wasn’t an obligatory read in America.
As I work out my mistakes in my cable stitching I remember us sitting at my mother’s porch talking about how little I understood knitting. As I mourn my broken Kindle and consider my upcoming birthday, I remember the sweet, funny notes in the cards she sent me. I remember being treated like an independent woman during my conversations with her when I visited, having grown up conversations with the woman who watched me grow up.
It was the following spring that my mother and I had a falling out. I moved out of my mother’s and in with students I met in college. My relationship with the three of them was in the closet. I tried to play off that I just found some like-minded friends that would let me crash with them while I achieve my own independence. A lousy lie, but I aimed to tell the truth as soon as I could, once the shock of Charlotte being her own person wore off.
P’s parents were friends with my father, and met him through the military when he was stationed in Germany. When my parents divorced, they maintained friendship with my mother.
My mother was so fearful of my relationship with Alice, Bailey, and Edward that she confided in a mutual friend of ours, Chris, who suggested that she tell my father, who in turn made a scene, showing up at my house and trying to force his way in, demanding to see my bedroom, declaring he worked for the government (as if that gave him some sort of authority that overruled the laws governing trespassing).
When I confronted my mother about giving him my address is when she asked if I was polygamous. Figuring it was the easiest explanation, and because I hadn’t yet learned the word ‘polyfidelitous’, I said yes. “Disgusting,” was her response.
P has crossed my mind many times since then, but I never had the courage to write her, assuming my mother beat me to it, assigning inaccurate adjectives to my private matters. It’s been four years since I saw her, and almost as long since I wrote to her. There’s no point in trying to save a friendship if that means not keeping it, and with this in mind I wrote her this week. I gave a quick summary of the important events that took place, emphasizing on the spring of 2013 when I started my life again, and finishing with why I stopped talking to my mother and that I had since gotten married and had a child. I did not villainize my mother, though I justified my reasoning for temporarily cutting ties with her. I apologized to P for not writing sooner.
I can be so confident about my relationship, except when I am explaining the concept to someone for their first time hearing anything like it. Especially a friend who I consider close. I have lost so many friends to this, friends I thought I could trust, who I thought were open-minded and trusted my judgement.
Her first email had expired. It took me a long time to scrounge up her second email. It took her only until the next day to respond. I’m still not sure what to make of her reaction, but her response was polite and informative. She said that she was surprised by all I told her. So my mother hadn’t contacted her, after all! She also said that she would respond later, and though I have no idea how she took the part about being poly, her response to my marrying a woman was that it was great and nobody’s business but mine. Being in writing and with there being a cultural and language barrier, I can only guess at her inflections and tone and wait for her email.