I see men who resemble you often. Like really close. Sometimes their wives resemble your wife. Sometimes the kids are even close.
Last weekend the impatient fruit seller was a dead ringer for H. H, who is also impatient with me.
I am afraid.
I almost call mom a few times. Just to say
I love you.
Ironically, even if I shouted it in German she would probably still understand.
Ich liebe dich!!!
What stops me is this terrible memory–a night in late summer, an infant and a toddler both held in my arms as I face an unknown accuser.
We now know it was mom. But then all I can think is–
what if they make me stay away from my babies?
I am jittery with an irrational fear. Because mom reported me when M kept running away.
M abused me, mom reported me as the abuser.
And she taught me that all the money in the world was not worth the risk. The labyrinth of her mind.
So I tell my kids about my fear. I tell them about my year in China and the million ways God took care of me.
Then I think of you. You standing on the bus, towering over the Chinese men, like you were their oversized parent or some strange incarnation of Snow White among the post-Maoist dwarves.
Or how stingy and mean I was to you–making you climb the Great Wall with me but refusing you soda for water.
I should have got you the coke.
And while I can see us there together like an old woman watching a perfect movie about her own life…
The truth is I have lost you. Lost you so long ago I wonder if you were ever real.
When did you stop being real?