Itch

She asked me why I didn’t have a real job. 

“The hairdresser’s daughter is a nurse. Just a nurse,” she said. “But you’re smart; you have all those degrees and you worked for the big government. You could be a doctor or a lawyer. Who makes more money, a doctor or a lawyer?”

I had stopped listening sometime back, when she said writing was for rich vagabonds without responsibilities; people with weak minds, a lot of time, and no real ambitions. 

She never thought much of reading either. When I was a kid, I had to hide to read. I would climb a tree and spend hours devouring Bible stories, myths, and romance novels that weren’t appropriate for a brain that still wore pigtails.

She celebrated my grades, though. “This is the one that will take us somewhere,” she used to tell her friends. “I just know it!” Her expression would linger somewhere between a grin and a grimace whenever she said those words.

I hated that face.

Today, I dislike her grinning grimace more than ever. I’ve suffered it for too many years, and haven’t gotten used to it.

I sat in front of her, plotting the best way to ignore her face; telling myself, she is an itch in the middle of my back, but I’m not armless.

“Why are you going to that college anyway?” She crossed her arms as if waiting for an answer, but continued talking. “Wasn’t someone paying for you to go to that rich people university? Famous people went there. I saw it on TV.”

I’ve always been good at pretending she is eternally set on mute. “I’m leaving. I have homework and work to finish. Maybe I’ll see you next week.” I picked up my bag, forced myself not to glance at her crossed arms or at her grinning grimacing face, and walk to the front door.

“It’s not like you are learning anything in that place,” she shouted after me. “You can help more if you go back to your big government job and make some real money.”

I felt like slamming the door, but her face wasn’t close enough to it for the gesture to count.

I walked to the bus stop wondering if I should tell her that to me, studying has never been about money or learning scholarly things. It is about interaction. It is about the many faces of learning: the “I just got an A!” face; the “What the fuck am I doing here?” face; and most of all, it is about my “Wow! I’ve been going to school for over a quarter of a century, and I still love it!” face.


I doubt I’ll ever tell her. I know she would sully the moment with her nasty grinning grimace. I also know I’ll be too tempted to scratch the look off her face. 

21 comments:

  1. Prior to the kids I was always going to short courses. Now I itch to go and feel fear of going because the money has been hard earned by my husband. Even though he tells me to go ahead I know that he wonders why I should spend so much money on something I will probably not use and how can I explain it? so for now I am just finding a way to try make both of us happy!

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  2. aw! this makes me feel "ouch"!

    If this isn't fiction: sometimes people just dont understand each other... sometimes they are too set in ways. Keep celebrating who you are. :) We ♥ you for it. :)

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  3. And she would never understand anyway. I tell that to my husband that wants to get on his brother, there's little point in starting an argument with a person who is dead set that they are right. You are taking the high road, don't forget it. And don't let her tell you different. I think you will go places and your writing will take you there.

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  4. Bliss Doubt5/24/2011

    "...pretending she is eternally set on mute."

    Love that. I'd have used it for my dad too, but he always demanded answers to his blathering, just to make sure you were listening.

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  5. You are such a soulful writer. Blood, guts, sex, sweat and tears, real or symbolically. Everything that our society seems bent on ignoring when it is the closest to reality. Your little inner voice may need an overhaul as it seems to speak with the thoughts of others that do not have your best interest in mind. Perhaps a reconstruction of what exists remodeled into what is really you. My sweet friend, I would have loved nothing more than to spend my entire life in a collage learning everything my insatiable mind craves. It is a curse, rather than a blessing to have to make the choice of "making real money" or following one's heart. Always, always...follow your heart.

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  6. If this is fiction let me say that it is extremely well written.
    If this is not fictional then I can concur that it really sucks to be seen as a commodity and not an individual with wants and desires by those we love.

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  7. Magaly I love your writing! There is always so much passion in it! Follow your heart my friend ;o) I know right now in my life, my art is my passion and I am going for it! Big Hugs ;o)

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  8. Magaly you sweet thing, sometimes unhappy people don't know how to express themselves in a good way, they think what they are doing is helping someone they love, inspiring them not building a higher wall... :(

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  9. PS Just wish she could see how freakin awesome you are ;)

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  10. I see you have the same "Motherly love" that I had....
    I'm sure mine is ashamed of what I have become, after all she wanted me to marry a wealthy man so I could travel around Europe with her!!
    Stay true to your desires, your writing is a wonderful expression and should not be denied - even if you go to college for the a few more years...

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  11. I have seen that face in my life as well! I too always hated it. Good that you chose to ignore it. That is the best way actually!
    Keep on keeping on!! The is the best answer to that face!!
    Hugging you
    SueAnn
    PS I got the nose ring and it is beautiful. I will be posting pics soon. Thank you so much!!

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  12. This is really good! Everytime, you just reach out and pull me right in. But I have to say, this doesn't sound like fiction...it sounds like a real conversation with a family member. And if it is, I'm truly sorry that you aren't getting the support from them. But to hell with what they think! You stick to your convictions and do what you love, it sounds cliche, but life really is too short. You have a gift for writing and some day we will see you on the New York Times Bestseller list. :)

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  13. So many thoughtfully sweet comments... what to say? Hm... I think this is the only appropriate response: fiction seems to touch us more deeply when its plot is loaded with bits of reality.

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  14. Don't think i've dropped by before, but it was worth it just for the "brain that still wore pigtails" line.
    If this is autobiographical, it sounds to me that you have your priorities sorted for yourself, even if others don't.

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  15. Glad you found something you liked. I'm quite fond of that line myself ;-)

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  16. Don't think i've dropped by before, but it was worth it just for the "brain that still wore pigtails" line.
    If this is autobiographical, it sounds to me that you have your priorities sorted for yourself, even if others don't.

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  17. I see you have the same "Motherly love" that I had....
    I'm sure mine is ashamed of what I have become, after all she wanted me to marry a wealthy man so I could travel around Europe with her!!
    Stay true to your desires, your writing is a wonderful expression and should not be denied - even if you go to college for the a few more years...

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  18. Glad you found something you liked. I'm quite fond of that line myself ;-)

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  19. Magaly I love your writing! There is always so much passion in it! Follow your heart my friend ;o) I know right now in my life, my art is my passion and I am going for it! Big Hugs ;o)

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  20. And she would never understand anyway. I tell that to my husband that wants to get on his brother, there's little point in starting an argument with a person who is dead set that they are right. You are taking the high road, don't forget it. And don't let her tell you different. I think you will go places and your writing will take you there.

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  21. Magaly you sweet thing, sometimes unhappy people don't know how to express themselves in a good way, they think what they are doing is helping someone they love, inspiring them not building a higher wall... :(

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