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"I like your new house," Mom said after one slow amble around the living room.
"Thanks." I continued filling the bookshelves from the open box at my feet. She wasn't here to help. She was here to scrutinize, perhaps to judge. Her validation of my home was not required, but it was welcome, as would be a unicorn. Something negative would come out of her mouth soon enough.
Mom continued her self-guided tour, on into the kitchen and dining area. Her voice trailed in toward me as she moved. "I mean, I know divorce is messy and awkward. Thankfully I never had to go through this kind of ordeal." Coming soon, a zinger about my failed marriage, veiled behind pride in her own 40-year success. "If your father had lived, this year would be our 40th anniversary. I was so lucky to be married to such a wonderful provider." There it was. "But this is a nice place you've got. Or, you know, it will be when you're done." That was almost a compliment!
I had watched her touching all the furniture and poking around in some of the open boxes in the living room. As she spoke, I could hear cabinet doors open and close in the kitchen, but not one box top opened. Heaven forbid she start unpacking now. Finally she called out, "Where's your cocktail shaker?"
"Probably at Martin's new apartment. It was his."
"Well, I notice you've stocked your liquor cabinet. How can we mix a drink?"
"Just stir it, Mother. Take a tumbler and a spoon, and stir it." Of course it was a drink she was looking for.
"What about them?"
I looked around the cluttered living room. Why not. She wasn't usually my favorite person to drink with, mostly because of all the guilt and judging, but my mother could mix a drink like a pro. "Sure. I'll be in in a sec."
In the kitchen, Mom was buried in the fridge, with the door hanging wide. Two Cosmopolitan-filled cocktail glasses stood on the island. "What's missing now?" I asked with a sigh. Her head popped up to face me. "Limes. We need garnish." Her hand flipped toward me in a gesture universally translated as "obviously". I had just moved in a week ago. Just how much of a lush did she think I was?
I joined her at the fridge, pulled a small glass jar out of the door and closed the fridge, hip-checking Mom out of the way. I placed the jar in her hands and moved to a yet-unopened storage box sitting on the counter. "Try these for garnish."
As I began unwrapping more pots and pans from the dish towels and washcloths they were wrapped in, she read the label. "Vodka-infused cranberries? Nice find." The vacuum sealed jar opened with a loud "pop", followed by a rustle as she shook a toothpick from the box on the counter. "Not very vodka-y, but they'll do."
Two hours later, I was sitting on the kitchen island, laughing with my mother about all the irritations my ex had foisted on me and my parents during our marriage. The things you learn when you finally let a parent get real with you! I hadn't even noticed some of the problems with our relationship that Mom had tried to warn me about at the time. All I'd ever heard was her judging Martin, not a concerned parent giving advice.
Looking around at the kitchen boxes yet to be opened, I leaned over and put a hand on her shoulder, swaying slightly with the buzz. "Mom, I'm glad you came over. Helping me to NOT unpack was more help than I thought I needed."
Thank you for visiting my #AtoZChallenge! My theme is "Audience Participation" (read about it, here) and now it is your turn. Each day will be a new story based on suggestions from your comments. Suggest anything: a word, scenario, character, location... I will be keeping a list of suggestions, so if yours isn't used tomorrow, it may show up later.
Today's post was inspired by the prompt "closed storage box", suggested by Isa-Lee Wolf, and the prompt "Cranberries", suggested by J Lenni Dorner, both given in comments on my B post (here).
WITH APOLOGIES: During the first week of A to Z, I have a house guest. I am already taking time out each day to read/reply to comments and write a fresh post. Please forgive me for not visiting your blog until next week. I will visit the blogs of every commenter when my house is empty again.