Sep 18, 2019
Sarah Mae is an 80’s/early 90’s child who grew up living with her dad in Pennsylvania but visiting her mom in the summers (Alaska! Georgia! Arkansas!). She rode a bike with no helmet, roller-skated with friends till dark, played the games Girl Talk Date Line and Mall Madness, loved She-Ra, and watched Saved By the Bell, Full House, Growing Pains, and all the rest.
Her highest hopes were to be just like her mom or Madonna.
When she was 14 years old she decided she wanted to move in with her mom, who was the coolest. They'd go to the pool together during the day, and in the evenings she would read to or teach her French (she lived in France for a couple of years when she was girl). She was fun and laid back and Sarah Mae felt like she could talk to her about anything and everything. It never fazed her that by the time she was 12 she was on her fourth husband, or that she relaxed with a beer after work, or that she threw a plate of chicken at her husband. She was just… passionate…untethered…unedited…
So Sarah Mae went to small-town Georgia to live with her mom and her 20 year old boyfriend. And it was awesome. At first.
The best way to tell you how things got worse is tell you a story of a dog, her mom’s dog. He was sweet and playful and sensitive, until one day he got out of the house to chase a female dog in heat. My mom told her to go after him, so she ran out the door and through the neighborhood chasing the dog as he chased the scent of the other dog. She finally caught up to him, and grabbed his collar and yanked him. He turned around and, for the first time ever, bit her. It made her furious. She let him go and went home and told her mom she couldn’t get him. Adrenaline was pumping and angry tears were in her eyes. It was then that her mom looked down at her hand, and followed her gaze and saw blood dripping down her fingers. Sarah Mae hadn’t even felt the bite or noticed the tears in her skin or that her hand was red. But as soon as she saw it, she felt the pain.
This is what it was like with her mom. Things were good. She was good. But she chased her drink, beer, vodka, whatever it took to numb her pain, to give her an escape. Sarah watched the chase and noticed how she changed. Her words were cutting and her laughter was tinged with mockery. Sarah chased her, wanting her love and her willingness to stop drinking, and so she told her she thought she was an alcoholic. She pleaded for her to hear what she was saying, for her to come back to being the mom she thought she knew. But like trying to force a dog home when he was on a scent, it was useless. And like the dog who bit her so she'd let go, her mom sliced through her, ripping the tender skin of her heart, and she did it with her laughter and her sharp words. So Sarah Mae finally let go.
Sarah's anger kept her from the pain, until it couldn’t anymore. She'd swerve between hatred and longing for her mom's love and approval, and the only time she got it was when she needed that love and approval too.