Cleaning up. I have always felt the need to clean up. Clean up before visiting my family, my mother’s family. Clean up not just in the showering, the washing, the brushing, the toning, the hydrating, but the importance of looking good. Looking good and pretty- with the right outfit of something that is nice enough but not too nice. Somewhere between the proms of my past and future and my track shorts and yoga gear. But I have to look nice. I have to. My makeup should be done in a way that highlights my eyes- shadow of sparkly colors and the eyeliner smudged just right. I worry or I did used to worry incessantly that I wouldn’t look right. Look right. Seeing my mother’s family meant that my game face must be on. On. Because I must be deemed the normal. I must be deemed the successful. I must be deemed beautiful like my mother- all her good traits mine- her eyes and hair and intelligence and spunk and wittiness and humor- but the bad- the bad recycled away, composted away forgotten. Not me. At all. For I am clean. I am different. I don’t want the traits of the up and downs of the yo-yo disease or the incessant calling or the disappearing acts or the best friend devil two play. No I can’t be those. So I clean up. I clean up in away that I can still be my mother. The good one. I clean up so no one will think I am like her. But I am like her. Not in the extremity. But her anxiety she did pass along through her blood, and pulse, and womb in birthing me. Re-enforced through me not knowing who she would be. Who she would be? Exacerbated through the early wake up calls of screaming and yelling. A light sleeper always.
My mother taught me long ago to clean up. To look good and accessorize. Always. So no one would know about her. From the outside much didn’t know. She taught me the importance of cleaning up so no one would question me. Question me. I took it to heart and tattooed it on my chest and kept looking down at it. Look clean. Look normal. So no one will know. It was more than the exterior of my dress and face but I transformed it to success. Being a success. So no one would question me. Ask me. Who I was. Who she was. She taught me. To run so fast and hard and do it well that no one would know.
Know about our family. About her. And eventually about me. About my own battles. Not like hers. But battles all the same. I used to feel the need to always clean up before seeing my mother’s family so they wouldn’t think I was her. Her entirely. But know there might be freedom in coming clean. About who I really am with them. I have the luxury of years of absence of me knowing them as a child and then again as a adult. That I can be myself. I can read my work around the circle of them. In ways I can’t with my other family. I can come clean about me. Who I really am. Not who I want them to think I am. Cleaning up for me. Isn’t about pretending anymore. I am clean. Clean in a way I didn’t know I could be. My mother didn’t teach me this way. She still lives in the cloud and island of denial. No I learned this one on my own. I am clean. Now. I am clean.