This post could absolutely be about my dad, or my brother, or my mum even (though less so than the first two). But I don’t really want to talk about them tonight. So, the other very random thing that this brings to mind is my school chemistry lessons, and learning about the volatility of compounds. Which rather boringly just means how readily they will change from a liquid to a gas. But this brings up a bunch of chemistry lesson memories, with my crazy (in a very good way) chem teacher, who was obsessed with Doctor Who, who was very enthusiastic, and would teach us all sorts of stuff which wasn’t on the syllabus because it was fun stuff and would get us more involved in the subject. And of course his love of experiments such as making metal blow up in water (and putting much more than he probably ought to in there to make it more fun)….
this one is fully my mom. if we think about volatile as the opposite of stable (which i do, i guess) then this one is for my mom.
it wouldn’t be fair to say i never knew what was coming…i did. i could tell by looking at her face whether i’d need to try extra hard to be good or quiet, or whether i’d more actively need to try to smooth things over, to anticipate what might make things worse. i can remember so many afternoons in grocery stores, shrinking away as she raked the poor cashier over the coals for not ringing something in correctly or not honouring their price comparison policy. the sound of her voice was accusatory and loud, self-righteous, grating, and even imagining it now makes me cringe.
there is one time i remember in particular, i would guess i was 5 or so, and my brother (then 3 or so) and i were fighting around dinnertime. i’m sure we were shoving and whining and being fully annoying, as little kids close to supper can be. i don’t even know what happened exactly, i just know that all of a sudden my mom yanked a kitchen drawer open, pointed to the knives in the drawer and screamed ‘why don’t you just kill each other already?!’ before slamming out of the house.
i don’t exactly remember what happened next, except we clearly didn’t kill each other coz we’re both still here. i seem to recall we just stopped, in shock and disbelief, i think, and maybe slunk to our rooms. but what i wish i could recollect was, did we go and look for her? how long did she leave us in the house on our own? where did she go? what happened next? i’m not sure.
there were other times i remember where she would entirely lose it, in frustration, would slam into a part of the house or into a room and cry hysterically and loudly. one time in particular, i was about 10 or 11, she took herself to the basement where we could hear her howling, and it was the first time i didn’t follow her down there, or go down to check on her, as i often did. i remember being scared that i didn’t want to, scared that i didn’t do it. wondering about the implications. again, i don’t have a clear memory as to what happened after…whether she resurfaced and just pretended all was well, or whether i got in trouble for not following her. i don’t know. but it was all very unpredictable: her love, her presence, her ability to parent, her patience.