I had some upsetting news the other day...my mother has planned a visit in March. For three weeks. Eternity. A long time. Forever. Two weeks too long. Three long, tortuous, agonising weeks. Did I mention she's staying in our small two bedroom flat for three weeks? Yep, three weeks. Three weeks...
My mother is a wonderful woman. She manages to always see the good in people, a characteristic I will never possess. She was a working mother that sometimes held down two jobs to ensure that my brother and I had enjoyable childhoods. She fought for a doomed marriage for years in the hopes that both my brother and I could remain the few children in our respective grades that had parents that were still together. She is an educated, strong woman whom I admire greatly. However, all of these fantastic traits do not lend themselves to me wanting her to stay in my flat for three weeks.
"But Pru!" you shout, "You live 4000 miles away from your family and only get to see them once a year. Have some compassion woman!" To that I must quote a character in the quality flick Pee Wee's Big Adventure - "I'm a loner Pee Wee, a rebel." The Dude and I are hermits. We do things on our own, when we want. The flat is our little haven of Usness. If we want to go out to dinner, go to the movies, go to a museum, we make that decision mutually and make sure no one else is included in those plans. With my Mom hanging around the place functioning as a third wheel, that independence has vanished.
I think what I'm most fearful of is my Mom's personality versus the British way of being. Apologies for the forthcoming generalisation, but my Mom exemplifies the stereotypical American as envisioned by Europeans. She doesn't ramble on about America being the world's only superpower, or talk about how if it wasn't for the Americans, all the British would be speaking German. Politically, Mom is forever a peace-loving hippie, so I am safe there. However, my Mom likes a good talk. She'll talk to anyone, she doesn't discriminate. Scruffy drunken guy stumbling up the street - Mom will talk to him about the weather. Supermarket checkout woman -- lengthy chat about the inconvenience of not being able to get quality cherries in the winter. Toll booth operator -- A chipper, "Why hello there! How are you doing this fine day? I hope the day isn't dragging on for you!".
This inherent Americanness does not translate here in the UK. When she tries this behaviour here she's greeted with blank stares and looks of amazement that anyone would dare speak to another without being spoken to. My Mom views this as a shortcoming of British culture rather than *perhaps* just a societal difference. I was struck with terror when she said to me on the phone the other day, "When I come over, I just want to meet people, y' know?" Cue stammering from me, and visions of her trying to forge an everlasting friendship with the post man, or the server in a cafe. At these times, when the person she is attempting to become bosom buddies with looks at me desperately for help, I try to give them a look which says, "Hey, I'm with you. I feel your pain, trust me. I may be an American, but I've lived here for a few years now and believe you me, I'd never start a conversation with a stranger. I'm one of you now!"
My Mom is also a hugger. When she first met the in-laws she ran up to them screeching, with arms open wide. They were like deer in the headlights, seeing this crazy, ranting 50 year old woman with bright red dyed hair and a pierced nose hurtling toward them. They stood there rigidly as she gave them massive bear hugs, looking as if they had just been violated in a most unfortunate way. Naturally my Mom perceives none of this, instead believing that they want to then have hugs every.single.time.she.sees.them. on her visit. We told my in-laws she was coming (for three weeks you know), and though the poor dears managed half-assed smiles, you could tell I struck fear deep in their hearts of which they know no parallel.
So in a few weeks' time, if I'm making posts to the effect of, "MUST KILL. THIRST FOR BLOOD IS GREAT.", you know why.