So, my dad drove me to the county clerk’s office across town and then drove home. I went inside and grabbed a number from the counter. It was D05, so I crossed the room and sat across from area D.
I was nervous and shaky and uncertain of what to do. What if they called my number before my mom and sister showed up? Would I have to take a new number? Also, it seemed as if the numbers they were calling didn’t add up. The lady behind D called 98 when I was expecting her to call something like D02.
My sister arrived, crossed the area, and sat perpendicular to me on a large sofa. “Hey, what’s our number?” she asked. I showed her the ticket.
I wanted to be snarky and ask if she left our elderly mother in the car, but I managed to refrain. As it turns out, I think she was talking to our dad, who didn’t leave until they showed up, just to make sure.
So then she entered, and Ellen and I both had to flag her down. “Where’s Meg?” she asked.
Ellen pointed to me, and I waved.
“Oh, I didn’t recognize you with your new hairdo,” she said. (I chopped off all my hair and bleached it.) She gave me a compliment on it and sat next to me.
“How are you doing?” she asked. “Are you okay?”
I sighed. A woman was sitting pretty close to my mom on her other side. “I don’t like talking when people can overhear me.” For good measure, I added, “And you know that.”
“Oh, I’m a bad, bad, Mommy.” She burst into tears.
I rolled my eyes.
“Do you want to sit next to me, Mom?” Ellen asked.
“No, I just want to cry!” she wailed.
I hadn’t seen my sister in years, so I shot some furtive glances her way. She’s still overweight, more than I am, and her hair was mussy, wavy, and somewhat dirty. She was glued to her cellphone for a brief while but then she just waited patiently.
A woman who worked there started walking around where we were. “LISTEN UP, EVERYONE. IF YOU’RE HERE TO GET A LICENSE RENEWAL, PLEASE RAISE YOUR HAND.”
I shrank away from her to avoid the forcefield of her polluting energy. She arranged everyone applicable into an order and started a line for them to my right. We continued to wait. She almost forced my sister off her sofa, but Ellen pointed out that she was with us, and the lady mumbled, “Yeah, I didn’t want to move her,” while pointing to our mother, whose shirt was falling off in the front to reveal that she wasn’t wearing a bra. Please, God, don’t ever let me grow that old. (I’m 44, my mom’s 72, and Ellen’s 36.) So Ellen didn’t have to move, but someone else was forced by this domineering woman to sit next to her on the sofa. I could tell that Ellen was not amused.
Eventually, we ascertained that they were calling the next number, but not the accompanying alphabet letter. So the D part was irrelevant, and we had to watch every employee carefully to see when they’d call our number.
We jumped up.
There were two chairs. Ellen sat in one and immediately started explaining our needs to the employee. I pulled the other chair out and gestured for my mom to sit in it, but she was still crying crocodile tears and being uncooperative. I continued gesturing for a long time. She ignored me. So I sat in it. And then there was a huge to-do over getting her a third chair. (You can’t make this stuff up.)
Working with the employee was fine, but it scared me that she called us by our first names. Thank God I had my name legally changed to Meg back in 2008, and it’s on all my documents! Whew.
But then I was asked to sign something. The paper wound up under my nose, and Ellen handed me a pen. I couldn’t sign it. My hand wasn’t working right. I dropped the pen and realized my hands were shaking. Ellen held the paper and I forced a signature after several attempts. I guess I was in shut-down mode, like, don’t talk to me and don’t make me do anything, because I’ve checked out.
There was an issue with the car’s mileage not being known, and my sister guesstimated. (The car wasn’t in the parking lot. It was back at my mom’s condo.) I spoke up and said that I didn’t care at all what the mileage was. Ellen guessed 24,000, and the woman asked me if that sounded right. (I’d never even seen the car.) I was like, “Yes, that sound perfect.” It turns out that the mileage is about twice that, I think, but it’s all good.
Out in the parking lot, Ellen said I should sit in the back behind the driver’s side of her car, but I was such a nervous wreck that I almost got into someone else’s car. This wasn’t my fault, as I’d never seen my sister’s new car. So then we got in. Things calmed down a little as we drove to my mom’s condo, and I managed to come out of my paranoid frozen state (sometimes I need to dethaw from it); but once we reached our destination, my sister realized she didn’t have the keys to the car. Back into her car we got, and we drove to my sister’s house so she could get the keys to my new car, BlackBird.
Driving along, Ellen and I managed to actually engage in some normal sisterly conversation. Our mom was still weeping for unknown reasons. Ellen parked and went inside to get the keys. I figured out that my mom has been heartbroken since her recent breakup. I said, “Maybe you all can get back together.”
“We’ve been talking, and he says he can’t do it anymore.”
“Oh. That’s too bad.”
Ellen got back in the car and said she’d just discovered that the keys had been left at our mom’s condo. So we drove back to the condo. I didn’t mind and I was glad to be hanging out with my sister in a nice and friendly way.
“Meg,” she said. “I hope you understand that I don’t care whether or not you meet my daughter, but if you do want to meet her at anytime, you’re free to. I didn’t realize that my bringing her along would be a violation of your boundaries.”
I was amazed. “Wow, thanks for saying that,” I said. “I appreciate it, and I was pretty certain that the manipulation was coming from our mother yesterday.”
Mommy burst into tears. “I’m a bad, bad mommy,” she wailed. We offered token negations of this.
I filled them both in on how my mom butt-dialed me yesterday, and what I heard.
“But yeah, I understand,” Ellen continued. “I’m not going to force Li’l Sweetmeats on you.”
(Actually, she was referring to her daughter by name, and I had to explain to her that I call her Li’l Sweetmeats largely to give her anonymity online, since Li’l Sweets is a minor.)
I sensed that Ellen didn’t approve of the name “Li’l Sweetmeats,” but she was too polite to say so. I tried to refer to her as the baby or the kid instead.
Ellen showed me how to drive the car. She was very thorough. Then, our mom begged us to let her photograph us together. Ellen said she’d do it if I would. I shook my head. And damn my mother for doing that! Ellen and I were getting along and being nice and considerate to each other, and then I had to stab Ellen in the heart like that because I didn’t feel like being further manipulated by our mother. (I suspect Ellen understood. But still.)
Maintaining boundaries is really hard. I’m glad my sister understands that.
I drove the car home and quickly realized that I can’t see my blindspot to change lanes. Ugh. I’m used to driving an old car that has no side mirrors, and I think side mirrors are unsafe to rely on and that you should rely upon looking over your shoulder. Every single time. But looking over my shoulder in BlackBird, I couldn’t see outside, for some reason. I’m sure I’ll find some solution for this.
I’m kind of tired now. It’s 4:30, and I’m just braindead. I should lie down.