Writer’s Corner: ‘Of Mothers and Misery’ part two
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
Things were looking up, however, when a group of my friends and I decided to go see “Thor: The Dark World” together. In order to avoid the awkwardness of a one-on-one date, I had invited my crush from another school to join us. I had told all of my friends about him and how he was coming with us. When we were all waiting in line at the theater, I kept expecting him to walk up. Closer and closer we got to movie time and still he wasn’t there. I waited outside by myself for about 30 minutes before I gave up and followed my friends into the theater.
Most friends would have pity on someone who just got stood up so publicly. One “friend,” however, was not that type of person. She teased me about it and told everyone that I must have made him up from the start. With only one exception, my friends believed her, and I was devastated. I never told my mom what happened or that I only ended up watching about half of the movie. Instead, I lied and said that the movie was so good that I would gladly go see it again with her, my treat. The second time around, I had a blast going with my mom. We laughed at Loki’s dry sarcasm and Thor’s often idiotic heroism, and for a brief two hours, I forgot everything that was wrong with my life.
That is until after the movie, of course. When we on our way home from the theater, I began to cry profusely. Naturally, she asked me what was wrong, and I told her the simple truth: I wanted to change schools. We decided to give it a little bit of time and decide after my sophomore year was over. I barely made it to December before I spilled my guts to my older sister, who was a college sophomore at the time. Instead of the comforting and sympathy I received from my mom, all that my sister had to offer was that if I left, I would be throwing away an amazing opportunity and making the biggest mistake of my life. Even though I wanted to argue with her, I held my tongue and agreed with her softly.
In early January, the whole family went to see “Saving Mr. Banks,” a wonderful Disney movie about the production of “Mary Poppins.” In passing, I let it slip that I was thinking about leaving my school, and as I should have anticipated, my sister interjected with all of the reasons why that was a bad idea before my dad even had a chance to weigh in. My mom chastised her for being so harsh with me, and as if it would make me feel better, my sister decided that as an apology, she’d spend the night with me. I had about a million chemistry problems and a history essay due the next day.
I worked all night, with my sister asleep in my bed as I typed away. Every now and again, she would wake up and ask what time it was, only to fall back asleep immediately after. Around 5 a.m., I went to bed, figuring I had about an hour and a half to sleep before I had to get ready for school. When I got home that afternoon, my mom wasn’t home yet, but my sister was. She told me that she was sorry for being so hard on me and that whatever decision I made, she supported me. Though I know that her change of heart was probably due to watching me stay up all night, part of me always felt like it also had to do with my mom standing up for me.
Less than a week later, my mom and I agreed, during our weekly “How I Met Your Mother” date, that I would go ahead and transfer back to my own school district. I withdrew from the Magnet program and registered for classes at my districted high school. I immediately began to feel better about my life. While my grades took a temporary dip, I was back with my friends from middle school, and I had a bit more time to spend with my mom.
I developed a new obsession, and as per usual, my mom was along for the ride. My new favorite show was “Doctor Who.” Any extra time I had during the latter half of my sophomore year and most of my junior year was devoted to watching it. “Doctor Who” was everything a good television series should be; it was funny, romantic and tragic and most importantly of all, intelligent. When my life was boring and mundane, I could always turn to The Doctor for some fun and adventure.
The same could be said for whatever Marvel feature was in theaters, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Ant-Man,” even “Big Hero 6.” I loved them all, and so did my mom. Though my dad and my sister claimed to be fans like we were, my mom and I often found ourselves on Marvel movie dates when no one else wanted to join us or if they were too busy to spare the time. No matter how many times I saw the same heroes, I was mesmerized and inspired all the same. My mom was the only person who truly seemed to understand just how much these heroes meant to me.
Which is why she put up with so much from me in my senior year of high school. I was still convinced that I was meant to be a scientist, like Barry Allen or Henry Pym, so I took exclusively Advanced Placement classes, including AP Chemistry. My workload was almost greater than when I had been in the Magnet program; yet again, I found myself desperate for sleep and wishing for a moment just to breathe. During this time, I developed a fondness for several DC TV shows, “Gotham,” “Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Supergirl,” and “Legends of Tomorrow.”
I became obsessive about watching each of these shows on the night that they aired, and my mom patiently found the time to watch with me. I drove my sister nuts with the rigidity of my television schedule. What she never understood and probably never will is that for one hour of every day, I could forget about deadlines and exams. For one hour, I could just relax and not worry about what was due the next day. For one hour, I could go without puking from the stress of seven AP classes.
My misery persisted, until a day during my Thanksgiving break when I accompanied my mom to teach her college economics class. She was showing her students “Christmas with the Cranks,” a mutual favorite of ours, so I decided to come along. After class, we grabbed lunch at a nearby Steak n’ Shake, and I told her a deep dark secret of mine: I didn’t want to be a scientist anymore. I wanted to be a writer and tell amazing stories like Stan Lee or George Lucas or even John Grisham. I wanted to write words that would inspire people. I was so surprised and relieved when she was excited for me. It was as if this big weight of all of society’s expectations that all smart girls must become scientists fell off of my shoulders.
It was our little secret for a while. We would watch our shows and discuss how I would have written them differently. We would discuss my story ideas and how I would write big budget superhero blockbusters or New York Times Bestsellers. School didn’t get any easier, and I still worried about whether or not I would make it to graduation but almost every time I saw my mom, my stress melted away. I could be myself around her and like whatever I wanted to like. I didn’t get blank stares or bored responses from her like I did from others. She actually cared about what I have to say.
We still watch our shows together every week, even though we are busier than ever. I doubt she’ll ever know this, but those hours spent together meant more to me than I care to admit. All of my best childhood moments can trace back to quality time spent with my mother watching something; whether it was good or bad. The same can be said for a great portion of my teen years. No matter what I had going on in my life, I could count on two things: my mom and my television screen. For that reason, I choose to write, so that maybe one day, my television series or movie or book will be the thing that brings people together or that inspires them to pursue their passion.