16 ч. ·
That elusive woman inhabiting Modigliani’s canvas is my mother. I took her picture minutes before heading to catch my train back to Berlin, after self-isolating with her and Patrick, the dog (a boy at last!) for almost two months. That’s longer than we’ve spent together, that I’ve spent time at home ever since leaving our home, Cologne, the Country, frequently the Continent just over 10 years ago.
I don’t try to mask a hint of surprise in my voice when I talk to friends about how well we’ve been getting along. We’ve been through a rough time, my mom and I. She worries and imposes too much, I take her for granted and am too hard on her... “Happy families are all alike." Maybe if I had been a boy, like the doctors “had promised”, things would have been easier. Maybe she would worry less, maybe I would have given her fewer ‘reasons’ to.
But even as women, we are quite different. At least I’m always quite quick to notice (and bemoan) those differences. I’ve gotten quite good at spotting her imperfections, the flaws in her character — objectively, that is. And though I know, and keep reminding myself, that I cannot change her, I frequently cringe in anticipation of a remark or behaviour of hers, that I could see coming with that lazor-sharp psychological x-ray vision of mine.
And when I do, my response dumps all that frustrated tension I just built up all on my own, onto her. I’ve always had trouble controlling my powers, but when it comes to my mother, I can find myself locked in a pattern of under- or over-reaction of a kind I would not dream to let myself get away with if it was anyone else.
But she is not anyone, my mother, not to me, not to the world, though to the latter she remains largely, unjustly unknown. Sometimes I daydream about her being a public figure (as she would deserve to be on her literary merits alone) purely out of the selfish wish to share the burden of loving and criticising her, because there is just SO much to LOVE. And to criticise. And if I’ve gotten my capacity to do both, in a way that complements the other, compliments the other, it’s from her. There’s no pedagogical sandwich with this madam.
Which made her reaction to this final piece (produced with the always nimble, always entertaining help of my dear friend David) pretty predictable, of course. She thanks David for his effort to rescue what is an unsalvageable disappointment (it’s one of those asshole ironies of life that a well-educated imagination creates all the more opportunities for life to thwart), refrains from thanking me for my effort or blaming me for lack thereof (which, fair enough, as she would have to do both) AND IN THE SAME BREATH asks me if “we” will send it to “the contest” of “the museum”. 🤦🏻♀️🤷🏻♀️💆🏻♀️
Now, my mother knows more about museums than I will ever care to learn, and I know that the blanks left by her GAPING inspecificity are for me to fill in. I admit, at many other, less public, less cognisant times, I would let myself be frustrated by the sheer IRREALISM of my mother’s hopes. Probably because it hurts me to know (?) that I can’t make them come true.
As a person, I tend to burst before I let myself be swallowed by the quicksand of debility in face of all the imperfection of the world, starting, and ending, with my own. And I find a dash of childlike optimism is the only effective antidote. Come to think of it… seems that it’s part of my mom’s recipe, too. Only it tastes differently, when she makes it.
Objectively, my mother isn’t that great of a cook. As she is the first to admit, handing me, with that cheeky smile of hers, a glass of season-specific wine and THE most refined recipe book.
PS: ok, let's see if I can find 'the email' of 'the museum' to share, what I find, is a beautiful little reproduction, with. Because.. а почему бы и нет? Будем надеяться.
PPS: I love you so much.
— с Svetlana Shron.