“There's another reason for it, I'm sure. There always is.”

"I wasn't afraid of her if that's what you're implying."

“Very well could have been but you said it before I could. God, you're prickly tonight. Have another beer.”

"There was this one friend I grew up with who described her all the time as 'hard-nosed' and I had no idea what the fuck that even meant until I got older."

“Weird-ass thing to focus on.”

"It wasn't literal."

“I'm aware of that.”

"It's like when you're trying to describe the way someone comes across to other people."

“Like I said, I'm aware of that. And I wasn't talking about that friend.”

"Yeah, but I mean... I think I was always a little worried about her hearing herself described that way. Always took things at face value. No room for being too flowery."

“I'm actually realizing a lot right now.”

"About what she was like?"


"There was that one celebration we had a year before I left -- I think you were there -- where she was dancing with my father and everyone made this big appeal to their authority by pulling into a large circle around them and staying quiet and I was just standing off to the side with my cousin. And I could sense even from him how bizarre it all felt, this sudden formation of onlookers. Like you can tell from how subdued my mother is that she's aware of all the people looking. My father had the same way about him but, you know, he's a guy. It was different with her. Like you can almost see her wanting to look back at everybody. There's almost an expectation there if it wouldn't have felt so improper."

“You're confusing me with someone else.”

"Next thing I remember is we're outside and waiting for the valet and there's a moment when I'm keeping my cousin company as he's smoking apart from everyone else and the brights of the car beside us light up. And my mom is just standing there in front of the car, not looking away because of how bright it is, not telling the valet to turn it down for her sake. There was something about that moment when I caught her expression for a half-second in the unaware darkness. I wonder if I maybe heap a little too much of myself in how I examine her. As much as we were separate, I still wanted there to be some mutual understanding, you know?"

“So are you going to answer my question? You spent all night bouncing back and forth between resentments and regrets that I'm sure you have a clearer idea of it now.”

"I didn't say anything about having any regrets. I only brought it up because I think about it often. I was always trying."