After the divorce papers had been signed Mum started looking for a new job which wasn’t very easy as she had been a housewife most of her life. I figured she would get a lot of alimony and Grandma told her she didn’t have to find a job, because Grandpa had left enough money to support the three of us. Nobody really knew how much money Grandpa had left behind and nobody really knew where that money had come from – or where it was going for that matter. Still Mum wanted a job, even if it was voluntary work and she ended up at a company called Oxfam. I had never heard of it back then. I do remember that it sounded to me like she was going to work at a hoover shop. Mum said she was going to make the world a better place. I thought she meant cleaner.
Now, the weirdest part, after the Mum and Dad broke up, was that I was offered counselling, because Mum and Grandma were convinced I needed help and that the situation had to be tearing me to bits. I wasn’t the one getting a divorce; Mum was the total wreck. I didn’t (and still don’t) know about Dad, but didn’t my parents need that counselling more than I did? When Evelyn and I broke up it never even crossed anybody’s mind that I was hurting and that I could have used some advice or somebody to talk to. Now somebody else broke up and all of a sudden I’m the one who needed guidance and counselling. Go figure. It’s a mad mad mad mad world.
Mum took me to this woman specialized in teenagers and divorces. She got the number from somebody at Oxfam so naturally I wasn’t very surprised to see a room cleaner than the Operating Theatre at St Bart’s. Everything looked brand new and most of the furniture was either made of dead animals or dead trees and it was all shiny and bright. The only thing bothering me was that the room smelt a bit of smoke mixed with cheap perfume and there was sock lying under her desk and it sure wasn’t hers. This lady who was going to help me was probably having some issues herself. How could somebody who claimed to know so much about the brain, not refrain from a bad habit like smoking? And what was that filthy looking sock doing under her desk!? Already I doubted her skills as psychiatrist and she hadn’t even begun to work her magic yet. It goes without saying that we didn’t last the full hour and Mum had to come and collect me sooner than she had hoped. It took me exactly five minutes to make the lady break down in tears. It must have been something I said. I sneaked out of her office and asked the lady at the desk to call Mum and go check up on the so-called professional.
When Mum arrived I was sitting in front of the big building talking to this lovely old lady who had been walking around with a shopping cart full of junk. Actually, she was doing all the talking. Mum rushed out of the taxi, took hold of my arm and more or less dragged me to the black cab. I didn’t even have time to say goodbye. She waved at me as she saw me drive off in the taxi and I waved back. I never saw her again.
Back at Grandma’s Mum asked me to explain what had happened. I said that the woman started crying when I asked her after the sock, the smell of cigarettes and cheap perfume, and after her own marriage. Seeing that she was going to help me get over somebody else’s divorce, I deemed it not more than logical to know something about that person’s own married life. With a bit of a weird look on her face Mum threw away the piece of paper with the phone number on it and murmured something like ‘I can’t believe this, I just … how!? Why!?’ or something like that. Then she went upstairs, and left Grandma and me behind in the kitchen. I still have no idea what it was all about.
See me tomorrow.