One of My Mom’s Arms

By Chelsea Martin

It must be so disgusting to watch something that was once part of your self slowly turn into something so separate and opinionated. 

Like watching your left arm detach from your body and go to college in Santa Cruz to study gender politics and practice polyamory, things you never planned for your arm, things that are so out of your range of understanding you hadn’t even thought to warn the arm against it. 

I can imagine looking at photographs of the arm when it was younger and feeling panicky about the swiftness with which life passes a person. 

“How do you have a conversation about gender politics with an arm that thinks for itself?” I can imagine wondering, while mentally suppressing the much more important question, “What is gender politics?”

I can understand feeling helpless and angry that the arm didn’t acquire the values you thought were embedded into your flesh.

I can imagine wanting to disown the arm, over-confident and argumentative about its decisions, constantly making you feel old and foolish when you ask simple questions about its lifestyle.

I can imagine wanting to focus once again on yourself, on the other arm and the few other appendages that haven’t detached from you, that seem to still find you interesting and knowledgeable and worth being connected to. 

I can imagine making an effort to forget about the arm. 

When I showed up at my mom’s house, I was ready to apologize for being such an arm. 

We hadn’t talked in months for what seemed like no reason. 

I was in high spirits because I had just been fired from my job and had forced myself to feel good about it. 

A tiny Asian man opened her door and I said, “Mom,” at him, which seemed both inappropriate and also the only way to begin the conversation. He called a tiny Asian woman over, who was able to say in English that she didn’t speak English. 

I called my mom from the car and heard the familiar, “Hi, this is Diane, leave a message,” that I had heard hundreds of times before.

My message went, “Dearest Mother, I am merely inquiring as to your whereabouts, haven’t seen you, where are you? Also who is in your house? Call me back at your earliest convenience. Thank you.”

I texted her every few days after that, with no response.

A few weeks later, I texted her from someone else’s phone and said, “Diane. How are you?”

She immediately texted, “Who is this?”

I texted my name. Forty-five minutes later she texted, “Good. And you?”

“Fine,” I texted, “What are your plans for Christmas?”

I am still waiting for a response one year later. 

Originally published at Shabby Doll House.