I DON’T LOVE YOU LIKE I DON’T HATE TOMATOES BY A. ARCHER
told my Mom I didn’t love her today. I didn’t want to hurt her. I didn’t want to make her cry or overdose again. I just wanted her to know the indifference I felt. Saying ‘I don’t love you’ is just like saying ‘I don’t hate you,’ right? I don’t love tomatoes, but I don’t hate tomatoes. They just don’t mean very much to me. They’re an annoyance- the disappointing accompaniment to my salad as I move my fork around picking out each tiny piece. I feel a bit more relieved as the tomato pile grows larger on the side of my plate. Suddenly, to my disdain, anxiety sets in as I begin to eat the salad. What if I missed a piece? I don’t want to taste the tomatoes. That’s why I picked them out to begin with. What if I unknowingly knock the tomato pile back in and take a bite full of tomatoes? Finally, I give up on the salad, pushing it aside as the inevitable doom of the ruined next bite becomes too much for me to handle. Tomatoes are very much like my mother, always spoiling even the crispest, freshest salad. Life is easier when I don’t speak to her. Things are less complicated and I feel a little more at peace. Her never ending list of complaints and
“Saying ‘I don’t love you’ is just like saying ‘I don’t hate you,’ right?”
would pretend I didn’t have a mother. She died in a plane crash, I would say. Which, I felt wasn’t really a lie because when I was 14 and she left me with my step dad, I’d wake up in a cold sweata reoccurring dream haunting me as I watched her plane, engulfed in flames, crash to the ground. I bought a dream dictionary and looked up “death of a loved one.” It said that when you dream about someone dying, you must look at what they represent. It’s what they represent that is truly dying in your waking life, that there was no longer a place for it. My mother no longer had a place in my life. A place. No longer. In my life.
struggled to understand what my mother represented. Was it undying youth? A Bud Light in a can coozy, singing karaoke and smoking cigarettes on the patio with her friendsnot caring that it was hours passed me and my sister’s bedtime. Or did my mother represent cruelty? Like the time my sister was 4 and didn’t like what my mother had made us for breakfast; scrambled eggs with ham and cheese. She protested and would not eat them. My mother smashed the entire plate against her face, the plate in one hand and the back of my sister’s head in the other. My sister’s eyelashes glued together with egg remnants, leaving just enough room for the tears to flow out. Sometimes when I think of my mother, I think of spam with macaroni and cheese, but don’t tell her that. She’d smack me if she Lisa NGUYEN knew that’s how I rememextreme self-pity, the stagnant way bered her cooking. She’d prefer I rein which she lives, refusing to grow membered the meals that she slaved up, it’s too much for me. When I over for hours, like that spaghetti was younger and around strangers, I sauce she used to make that my friend
Published on Aug 27, 2012
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