At school today a classmate had a new dark green canvas backpack I really liked. I asked her where she bought it and I planned to go to the same store and get one for myself. I called mom after class and asked her to meet me there so she could buy it for me. I got to the store about ten minutes before her and I found the backpack, only a dark purple instead. Mom got there, we bought it, it was half the price, we celebrated it because it always happens that we find something we want and it’s half the price, and we went to the supermarket afterwards.
On our way back home I asked mom what she would’ve done if she hadn’t married. I don’t remember why I asked her this, but I did, and she laughed and told me I’m always asking her, but I keep forgetting.
If mom hadn’t married she would’ve followed her plans of moving north, finding an apartment for herself and studying something easy but profitable. She would’ve lived in La Serena, a beach, instead of Santiago, a shit hole in the goddamn mountains. She would’ve woken up every morning and go for a run, then come back and eat fruit, then go out to study and work, then come back and go for another jog at the beach. She would’ve had a little dog to keep her company and she would’ve spent every Saturday night out with her friends.
But she married and had three children and lives in Santiago and is a housewife.
Every time I ask her this I don’t remember having done so before until she’s done telling me all over again, and then I remember when I look at her and I wonder whether she’s happy with this life she chose to have. Every time she asks me about my own life and what I want to do with myself, and every time I tell her I have no clue, there’s a glitter in her eyes like she’s about to say it doesn’t matter if I don’t know, but the words she speaks so motherly betray her thoughts.
And it’s true. On my account and on hers, it’s all true.
I pride myself of having a good memory but when it comes to mom I have to make an effort to look at her and remember she’s there. Because she is, just like stairs and clothes and the oxygen we breathe and the water we drink and the food we eat to live. Because when I stand up I forget that my feet and legs respond to my brain’s order and when I remember I can’t walk properly anymore. And when I forget about the oxygen I panic when I remember it because one day it won’t.
The funniest part is that I’m half conscious about myself. I look in the mirror and the girl who looks back at me makes faces as she fixes her hair and washes her teeth and puts on a coat and leaves and I don’t know her. And I don’t know her because I don’t want to like her in that moment even though she’s beautiful because time will pass and she’ll be gone, like mom, like stairs, like clothes, like oxygen, like water, like food.
This classmate of mine, just today she was telling me that there’s a boy at school she thinks would be a fine boyfriend for me. She pointed him out during recess and he was just kissing a girl. She looked at me, smiled, and said something like relationships are fleeting, and another classmate added ephemeral to the equation.
Well, isn’t everything.
But I only remember when I close my eyes.