Writer’s Corner: ‘Of Mothers and Misery’ part one
The Writer’s Corner features poetry, essays, short stories, satire and various fiction and non-fiction from SCAD Atlanta students. To submit your own work for the Writer’s Corner, email email@example.com.
Of Mothers and Misery by Allison Hambrick
Everyone has at least one positive memory about something they’ve watched. A favorite show. A movie that makes them smile when they’re sad. Even a favorite music video. As for me, I have thousands. Throughout my childhood, my mother and I spent a large fraction of our time together watching something on television or seeing a movie.
My very earliest memory traces back to a time where my mom and I spent most of our hours together. My older sister was already in school, and my dad left for work early and would come home late. So even though my mom was busy taking care of everyone and everything in my household, we often found ourselves willing away the hours through watching a movie or her teaching me how to read.
In those days, there was no Netflix so when we did turn on the television, it was only if something we both wanted to watch was on. Our mutual favorite cartoon was about an anthropomorphic aardvark who, aside from living in a town filled with assorted animal species instead of humans, was basically just a normal kid. That’s right. My very earliest memory is simply sitting on the couch with my mom watching “Arthur,” dreading my sister getting home because she would want to watch “All That” instead.
Our daily television time became a hobby. We did not have Disney Channel at the time, so our days were filled with “Between the Lions,” “Spongebob,” “Johnny Bravo” and whatever classic reruns were on TVLand. If it was a particularly busy day, my mom would put on a movie for me and migrate in and out as she did her chores. Usually, the feature would be one of our many Disney tapes, but if she was in a fun mood, I’d get to watch “Superman II,” “Big Fat Liar” or on an especially lucky day, “Austin Powers.” Day after day spent with my mom, I was mesmerized by the small screen, until about when I turned four.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to start school. In fact, I was looking forward to learning; I just didn’t want to miss out on time with my mom. The idea of spending seven hours a day away from home, away from my mom, was terrifying. She knew I was worried, so she decided to treat me to something that was pretty rare back then: a trip to the movie theater.
I had been to the movies several times before, but this time it was different; it was just my mom and me. No dad. No older sister. Only the two of us. We were going to see a movie that I had been desperately wanting to see since I saw the first television advertisement, “Lilo & Stitch.” For those of you living under a rock, “Lilo & Stitch” is a Disney movie about a lonely little Hawaiian girl who adopts a fuzzy blue alien experiment, thinking that he is some subspecies of Chihuahua. The alien’s creator is sent to track down his experiment, Stitch, and arrest him. Naturally, hilarity ensues, and life lessons are learned.
“Lilo & Stitch” is undoubtedly my favorite movie to this day. Not just because Stitch is an adorable character, but more importantly because it really showed me the meaning of friendship and family. As Lilo puts it, “O’hana means family, and family means no one gets left behind, or forgotten.” These words meant and still mean a lot to me, in no small part because they reminded me of how much I loved my family, and how much it meant to me that my mom cared about how I felt. In retrospect, I think that might have been the very first time that I understood the effect that words can have on people.
After that day, it became a tradition for my mom and I to go see whatever movies we wanted, just the two of us. Throughout my elementary school years, it became almost a monthly occurrence; “Nanny McPhee,” “Firehouse Dog” and “Curious George,” the list goes on. She always told me that I had a knack for picking great films.
Our television time continued over the years as well. It started off as sharing a snack and watching “House of Mouse” after I got off the bus, but as I got older, we began watching different shows, migrating from “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” to “Desperate Housewives” and “Dr. Phil.” No matter what else was going on, I could still count on those few hours a day when my mom and I had our TV time, provided that my sister wasn’t watching “TRL” or “The Hills.” Even when I was in middle school, we managed to find time for each other.
Several favorite sitcoms and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” sequels later, I was about to start high school. It was a fantastic year to be a movie fan. In a post-Harry Potter world, two of the biggest franchises of all-time hit their peak with the debut of “The Hunger Games” and the culmination of half a decade of superhero movies like “The Avengers.” To put it gently, I was obsessed. So when I was told that there would be a new science Magnet school in my county, I was one of the first to submit an application. I thought it would be so cool to be just like some of my favorite superheroes: Tony Stark, Peter Parker, Reed Richards — all science prodigies. To my surprise, I got in right away and said goodbye to most of my friends, ready to start anew and follow my scientific dreams.
I was not at all prepared for what would come next. I was slammed with AP classes and extra science homework, not to mention that I had no new friends for my first semester. My work load was so large that the only time my mom and I had was the thirty minutes a week when a new episode of “How I Met Your Mother” aired. I thought I had hit an all-time low. I was wrong.
The first year of high school passed slowly and painfully. I averaged on one hour of sleep a day. I could barely stand the workload and though I had started to make a few friends, the drama was almost non-stop. I missed the days when all I had to worry about was starting preschool. By sophomore year, I grew more and more miserable every week. I would often call my mother, crying for her to pick me up from school early. She rarely did.