Yesterday Once More

Lady Bird , 2017

Lady Bird, 2017

When I was young I listened to the radio waiting for my favorite songs

I recognized the words, and I sang along like every lyric was stored in a locked box with a melody sensitive keypad. I hadn’t heard it in years—maybe I had never heard the original song, Karen Carpenter reflecting on her youth and the sha-la-la-las that made her smile, laugh, cry. 

Those were such happy times and not so long ago.

My mother’s voice echoed in my ears, singing every wo-o-wo-o. Laying in my bed, my blanket beside me with a pink heart sewn in, covering up the time I burned it on the stove. I listened to my mother sing. That was so long ago. I wish she still sang to me now, but we both know it can never be like that again. Her voice was such a comfort—it wasn’t perfect pitch; it was a high school production of Grease’s Sandy. But her voice was a kind of home; it was my mother, it was my mother’s voice. 

How I wondered where they’d gone

The night before my seventeenth birthday, I pulled back from my mom’s embrace with tears in my eyes. I hate being the youngest, I hate being the one to rip away all that’s left of youth from my parents. She looked at me with the most sentimental of eyes, and although I expected her to feel sad and resentful towards me, she smiled. She told me something that night I’ll never forget.

When they get to the part when he’s breakin’ her heart, it can really make me cry.

And next year I will leave her, and leaving her is the last thing I want to do. I will go on my own, I will live with a stranger. A stranger who will not sing ‘Strawberry Fields’ to me as I fall asleep. A stranger who will not understand how I need a cold ice water beside my bed. She won’t be enough, and I’ll never know another care so selfless as the care of my mother.

Lookin’ back on how it was in years gone by and the good times that I had,

Feathers in my hair, the first time I wore red lipstick. My first dance recital is a baby blue blur, shiny tap shoes on small feet. My mom knelt down to me backstage, smiling at me and encouraging me—I’ll do great. Her kiss on my cheek lingers still, and despite all the other little girls’ looks, it felt like a magic touch that may have worked—considering I didn’t cry on stage.

Makes today seem rather sad, so much has changed.

There’s a red stained wall that grows between mothers and daughters. I want to tell her how I feel, I want to show her the racing love that I feel for her. I can’t let her see; I let it out only when my face is hidden in her shoulder as she prays over me at night. It’s almost not enough to say I love you, because what I feel is so much more—it’s a love filled with anger and desperation; I love her so much that I’m angry with the lack of the right word, the lack of the right expression. I feel it in my stomach, in my bending knees, in the emotional grip of my heart—like the one you feel when you see the end of a movie, and your favorite song happens to play. She’s my favorite song.

All my best memories come back clearly to me

She once left my sisters and I with a babysitter, she and my dad must have gone out to dinner with friends. I wish I could go back and remember what I felt in that specific moment, but for whatever reason, I felt compelled to chase after her. I remember thinking she had gone to the grocery store—I set out on the streets to catch up with her. Not that I knew the directions, I must have been 3. I walked until my neighbor found me, wandering aimlessly, just trying to find my way to my mother.

Some can even make me cry, just like before

Sometimes I still drive by the house I ran away from. It’s so different now, I almost don’t recognize it. But I remember the house down the street; I have a distinct image, it’s like a movie I watched fourteen years ago, of the spiral staircase you can see inside. When my neighbor found me on the street years ago, I saw it. I still think about it today. I think about the time I ran away from home to run to my mother. My mother is my home.

It’s yesterday once more.

Why is it that leaving is the only thing powerful enough to wake you up from your delusional dream. The dream that tells you that you’ll always be comfortable. I wish I could say it’s all the same, that she’s the same, that I’m the same. And sometimes I wonder if we are just as we were back then—her kiss on my cheek a magic touch, her voice a time machine. But they’re wrong when they say things don’t change. Because it’s all changing, and one year is not enough for me to accept that, and I don’t want to leave my home because my home is my mom, but how could I let go of all the she prepared me to do—to find, to learn, to be, to love. 

The night before my seventeenth birthday, I pulled back from my mom’s embrace with tears in my eyes. I hate being the youngest, I hate being the one to rip away all that’s left of youth from my parents. She looked at me with the most sentimental of eyes, and although I expected her to feel sad and resentful towards me, she smiled. She told me something that night I’ll never forget. She told me that every stage of life is purposeful. My youth was the beginning, and it was amazing. My high school life was a challenge, and I feel stronger. What comes next will also have a purpose. And she told me it would be good. 

Italicized are lyrics from “Yesterday Once More” by The Carpenters