Another week, another family dinner with my mother and my 39 year old sister
Eric: How was your day?
Mom: I bought cherries today at Safeway. The man told me the cherries were for $1.50, so I bought a whole bunch of them, except when I went to the cash register they charged me $4.50, so I told them $1.50 and they asked if I had CLUB CARD and I said I left mine at home so they entered my phone number and they gave me a discount!
I swear to God, my mother is turning into the Crazy Asian Ladies that white comedians talk about in their stand-up routines.
Eric: (to my sister) And yours?
Anny: I did missionary work.
Mom: She takes BART and walks around Berkeley by herself for the entire day.
Anny: It was non-verbal.
It's taken me 19 years, but the whole responsible adult bullshit has caught on to the way I interact with my sister now. Medication keeps her psychosis in check, but in her age and frame of mind, it would be difficult for her to ever transform into a fully functional member of society. I talk to her in a calm and soothing voice as instructed to me by various books on mental illness and in turn, she answers in pleasant one to two word responses. She asks me if I bought the shirt I'm wearing, like every other time I come home, and now I know enough to say, "No, the shirt isn't new, but I bought it at Old Navy, I'm glad you like it" instead of flipping out and asking why she's always asks the same question every time I go home for dinner.
Sometimes though, when I'm watching Korean soap operas with my mom, she'll turn and look at me, just look at me, as if we were identical twins and she were trying to send some sort of desparate, telepathic message. An action like this would have previously triggered something combative or defensive inside, but now I just silently nod and smile and make a motion to the TV. And when she blankly stares at the sobbing girl eating rice on the television screen, I'll wonder to myself: "What did you want to say? What would you say to me, if you could? Where did everything go horribly, horribly wrong?