Yesterday ma and I read An Education by Lynn Barber. We spent the whole day sitting underneath our apple tree–book in hand and slathered in OFF to keep the mosquito assassins away–and read every word out loud as if we were at a gay pride parade declaring that we are humans, right? Anyway, ma liked the book and I did too. The best part of the book was when Barber talked about the beginning of her career when she worked at Penthouse magazine. Ma and I have always wanted a penthouse so we were exuberantly impressed that Barber actually worked in a Penthouse. That’s a dream come true, ma yelped as she sprinkled ginger powder on her Breyers vanilla bean ice cream.
By the way, ma and I don’t have an apple tree. We barely have a backyard. What we got are two potted cacti and a hose.
Back to An Education: we especially liked the part when Barber talked about raising goats. We also learned that London is a small country that is part of the United States of England. It’s filled with pubs and porn shops. We also learned that Nick Nolte is a cry baby. But, what we really loved the most about the book is the almost last line. Barber writes: “…I am a deep believer in the unknowability of other people….” I agree and shook my head and ma said I shouldn’t shake my head beneath an imaginary apple tree. This quote sparked an idea, one founded on the unknowability of other people, even the people closest to you. I don’t know ma. The people you think you should know the best are sometimes the people we know the least. Because we are too close. Too consumed by the present tense that we miss the subtle histories hidden between the cracks of our day-to-day lives.
I turned to ma and she picks her nose and I begin to wonder what brought ma to this brazen attempt to cleanse her nostrils. What are the totality of events that makes her ma? This whole picture I will never see because what I see now is just a reflection of the past, a past that is drawn between birth and the present. I don’t know you, I told ma as I closed the last chapter of An Education. Ma nodded her head like the wild bobble head dog on our dashboard. And that’s fine, she said, cause I don’t even know myself. I don’t believe you, I responded. Ma winked. I want to know you, I told her. She pulled her finger out of her nose and looked at me like she really, truly, and infinitely cares about me. If you want an education, she said, then listen. So I did.