When mother first moved to Los Angeles she tried to make friends with families that were everything she aspired to be. On the surface, she left her hippie-self and the people attached to that lifestyle in New York, but she's the kind of person who will never grow up and become "normal", whatever that is.
For New Year's, she invites herself to one of those families and orders me to go with her. "Please behave" she says, which means I have to act perky and humorless, smile at their stupid jokes about "normal" people and listen to their dorky son talk about life in college. Mother will try not to drink too much while making me seem like the perfect daughter, cutely dressed up in pink and with just the right amount of make up on.
The whole evening will taste like vomit, one you have to swallow over and over again, and I will have to think very carefully about everything I say in order not to offend anyone (that would be very easily done if I wanted to) or seem strange.
And then, as the new year begins with fireworks and champagne, mother will hug me and say she loves me, and I will forget the charades and the fake smiles and say I love her too, just because that's how I wish things were between us. I will grab her hand and hold it, and for a moment I won't think about who's no longer there, like he used to be, protecting me from all that's evil in this world. It will be a happy moment, but it won't last forever.