I’m mentally keeping track of the shocking stories I want to write before I blastdown my blog. I already know what my last post will be. It was probably my most devastating moment. The story I’ve only told two people. “YOU DID WHAT?!?! Cathy, no you didn’t.” I couldn’t stop shaking. It was the worst thing I’d ever done. To make up for all the times I did my homework, all the times I abided by my curfew, all the times I respected my elders and also little kids, all the times I did the right thing…for a brief moment…a moment of extreme desperation, I did something very very wrong.
It was an evil deed that I’ll blog about at some midnight hour, then be so embarrassed, I’ll wakeup in the middle of the night, and delete my blog for good.
But until then, here’s another story.
Spring 1995. I was a sophomore in Berkeley. Five girls living in a very small three-bedroom, two-bath apartment. We were friends from the dorms, glad to have found each other that first year. By the end of that second academic school year, we would no longer be friends. The cramped quarters and rigor of our classes took its toll on our collective friendship. I screamed my head off because so-and-so didn’t do the dishes for weeks. “CLEANUP YOUR FUCKING DISHES!” I exclaimed on the whiteboard. Some of us had 8am lab classes, so could you please try to keep it down. It is 3am, by the way. All of us found other places to live the following year. Few of us kept in touch.
But early that Spring when the weather was perfect, when we were still friends, three of us decided to be impulsive. We made a pact. Kristen got her eyebrow pierced. I got my nose pierced. And Christina shaved all of her beautiful long brown curls off…long before Britney. Our other two roommates thought we were crazy. The three of us believed we were bonded for life. Kristen swabbed alcohol on her eyebrow to aid the healing process. I tried to get used to blowing my nose with a diamond stuck in there. And Christina simply wore more makeup.
My parents came to Berkeley one Sunday to have brunch with me. They didn’t notice my diamond stud. “Mom, don’t you see anything different about me?”
She looked me straight in the eyes. “No. What?”
“I got my nose pierced!”
She became very angry, but didn’t know how to handle the situation. I wasn’t a little kid anymore that she could spank or scream at. I didn’t know she would be upset! What was wrong with getting my measly nose pierced. She had my ears pierced when I was a wee baby. I was an adult and if I wanted my nose pierced, I should have it pierced, damnit!
My mom turned around and barked at my dad, “Let’s go.” My dad looked at me, torn between his wife and the daughter he had come to have brunch with. He tried to persuade my mom, but she insisted, “Let’s go! NOW!!!”
I watched puzzled as they sauntered away.
Instead of in person, the screaming matches happened over the phone. Mother and daughter going at it. I was at Berkeley, spending hours in the lab during the day and analyzing Virginia Woolf at night. I had the training to slam all of her silly arguments: “What are people going to think of you? Of the kind of daughter we raised? At Berkeley and getting her nose pierced. You’re uncontrollable. What are you going to do next?”
“What am I going to do next? I’m going to graduate from the best public school in the country. Isn’t that what you want me to do? Haven’t I done exactly what you wanted me to do ever since I was a little kid? If you’re so concerned about what people are going to think of what kind of daughter you raised, why are you so proud of the fact that I got into Berkeley? Why do you brag to your friends that you think you did such a great job raising two girls? Now are you saying you didn’t do a good job? All because why…because I got my nose pierced? Are you kidding me? You know Indian people get their noses pierced all the time. It’s part of their culture just like it was part of our culture to get our ears pierced.”
“So you think you’re Indian?”
That’s probably the only good comeback my mom had. But otherwise, the screaming matches ended and I promptly received a card (written by my dad, but signed by mom and dad) that they were definitely proud of their little girl, that the nose ring was my own business.