My parents have started playing badminton together. I learn this on the phone, where I was trying out a new conversation technique—though I don’t want to be, often I am guarded with my mother, worried that I will somehow lose too much in our exchange (this is an old problem, one that stems from a time when I had much more to lose). So often when I call, rather than volunteer information, I learn about my mother’s life, sometimes in a way that makes me upset because of how little it seems I am asked about what’s going on with me. Ironically, I replicate the exact situation I mean to avoid.
But offering is a different thing entirely—I am strong enough, of course, to volunteer. I talk about what’s making me anxious. And in the meantime I’m happy to have learned about this new hobby my parents have taken up, this new means of connecting. It is exactly the sort of thing I would have wanted for them decades earlier, when I think it must have seemed impossible to my father that space for such things could be made.
Earlier in the day my mother, who has been diligently reacting to all of my Instagram stories (even the ones I’m sure she doesn’t understand), responded to one in which I posted a video of myself wearing digital neon glasses. “I wish I had a pair of glasses that could electrocute me,” is what I think I wrote as caption. “That would devastate me!” she replied. I didn’t mean that kind of electrocution, but even still it was sweet to be reminded that between us there is care, and love, even if it’s sometimes difficult for me to see.