‘Your hair is so long.’ My mom holds my hair in her hand. ‘You want me to cut it for you?’
‘Just a little bit’, I say. ‘When will your treatment start?’
‘Next week I believe.’ She takes my hand en guides me to the kitchen where she immediately puts me on a chair. Ever since I was a kid she was the one cutting my hair. First because she loved my hair so much, but soon she wanted to be the only one to cut it. She learned the basics from a friend who was a hairdresser herself. ‘I want it different this time’, she says while brushing my hair. ‘I want it different this time and I want you to listen to me. You should focus on your career…’
‘Yes. Your career, your life. Your dad will be more home often, it’s possible with his work now. You and your brother should be focused on your life now. I won’t have you in my house for weeks. Just come over, but you won’t live her. Understood?’
‘I…’ I sigh. ‘My career is fine.’
‘Your ambition was being a foreign news reporter.’
‘Ambitions can change.’
‘That’s right. What are your new ambitions?’ Her face is now in front of me. ‘You’re not a foreign news reporter.’
‘I don’t want to be any more.’
‘What do you want to be?’
‘I don’t know and I don’t care…’
‘My love, this can’t happen. That’s what I mean.’
‘I am a photographer. I can do anything if I want. I have multiple assignments and I manage. It’s fine…’
‘It’s fine’, she repeats.
‘Yes’, I shrug my shoulders. ‘I have many ideas and the market is changing.’
‘You can teach.’ Finally she continues with my hair.
She laughs. ‘Okay, I am sorry. I should have known.’
‘Why are you telling me this?’ I feel my eyes burning, but I don’t want to give in. I do not want to acknowledge the fear inside of me. So doesn’t she. We stay quiet, finally, until my hair is done.
‘I will be happy when I know you’re settled.’
‘Settled how? A boyfriend? A husband? A job? All the above?’
‘All the above. And I want to be here so I can meet him.’
‘I don’t know if I want to.’ I get a little poke in my arm. ‘I did meet someone, but they’re never…I don’t know.’
‘You don’t know indeed. That’s why I want you to focus on your own life. Figure it out, now I am here.’
‘Listen to me, I want you to. I’ve talked to your father and he agreed. His work is fine, we are fine, but you’re not. You did too much for me and for us. Now we want you to work on yourself. We’re here. We’re always here to help you and guide you. Just do this while we’re here.’
While I know what’s she’s saying. I don’t know how to do it. Maybe I don’t want to focus on me. Perhaps that’s why I love the camera or other stories. I don’t want to write about me or picture me. My whole focus goes to the world around me and that’s fine. It’s safe. Sometimes I don’t even feel I exist. I don’t exist, my mom does and she needs to stay. Without her, I am lost. I put my arms around her and hold her tightly.
‘I am here, Lynn. Don’t be scared. I’m here.’