If I could have one wish – and I couldn’t wish for money, or to correct past mistakes – here is what I would wish for.
I would wish to be outside a party in 1977, the year my mom turned 26. At that time, she was living in a tiny house with her best friend.
The friend would later become my godmother, but for now, she was just another single woman teaching at the local high school.
Myra taught cooking; my mom taught French. The students called her Madame Green, but she was 5’04”, and already most of them looked older than her. She made up for it by being extremely strict.
She had worked hard her whole life, writing out essays by hand three or four times in college before she turned them in. She had dated but never seriously.
She was more amused by the pursuit of a man than the acquisition, and often found that once someone reciprocated her feelings, she lost interest.
She was six years into a crippling eating disorder that dominated her life, and that she hid from everyone.
Still, I imagine she didn’t take herself too seriously. She had short hair and wore little makeup. She looked like the kind of girl who would make you laugh.
In pictures, she is always doing that – laughing.
The costume parties they threw in that house were epic. People came over in bathing suits, in nun costumes, in nothing at all.
I don’t think she would have gotten drunk, at least not in that desperate, modern way.
But I think her face would have been red with wine, and she would have talked to you for hours, because she has always been able to talk for hours, about anything.
I would wish to meet her outside the party, this red-faced 26-year-old woman, stumbling outside to catch her breath, still shouting something to someone behind her.
I would offer her a cigarette and she would say no. We would chat like women do.
We would like each other, in that way that blooms from mutual interest and admiration; in the easy trust that precedes real friendship.
We would chat about nothing, really. Someone would call to her, and she would excuse herself, to go back inside and carry on with her life.