Luca will be seventeen next week. One year shy of being a legal adult. And yet, in two weeks, I will be in court at a custody hearing to determine where he lives for the next year. Sometimes I catch myself wondering why I’m doing this. Why am I investing time, money, and psychic energy just to hear myself trashed in court? And then I remember: oh — right! Because I’m divorced from a narcissist.
When I find Luca’s bath towels mildewing on the floor, or I feel a searing pain on the sole of my foot care of a beebee pellet lurking on the oriental rug, or I find myself spewing the same broken-record reprimand — “you didn’t put your dishes in the dishwasher!!!” — I am sorely tempted to hog-tie him, stuff him in the car, and deposit his wretched adolescent ass on his father’s doorstep.
But not really. It’s just a nice fantasy. Because, in reality, I am subjecting myself, and him, to a second custody battle to keep his dad from sending him to wilderness camp and performing a metaphorical lobotomy on him. If I didn’t fight for Luca’s rights, and mine — to legally participate in his child-rearing — I would add yet another regret, a BIG regret, to a list of regrets that is far too long.
* * *
Franny is at sleepaway camp for two weeks. Luca and I are home slogging away at our jobs, mine at a treatment facility, and his at an iPhone kiosk at an outdoor mall. He jettisoned his menial-labor job at a grocery store, which infuriated me, because I think mopping floors and bagging groceries teaches kids about the value of hard work. But, he at least did things the right way. He didn’t quit until he found a new job — selling iPhone cases — which, frankly, makes far better use of his smooth-talking entrepeneurial skills.
One good thing about Prince cutting me and Luca off from money: it’s forced Luca to learn independence fast. I provide food and housing, and he has to pay for everything else: haircuts, clothes, high-tech gizmos, and some not totally legal firecrackers which he bought in Chinatown yesterday.
While he was procuring July 4th accoutrements on the down-low, I strolled through gift shops eyeing lotus-shaped floating candles, glittery orange paper butterflies, and other pretty, unnecessary things I couldn’t afford. I did, however, get Luca this birthday card:
And while I was reading the assortment of inspirational-quote cards on the carousel, I came upon one that helped me re-frame my abject terror into hope. Or deep denial. Maybe both.
So I bought it and when I got home I set it on my vanity. So now, when I descend into a quicksand of panic, which I do maybe ninety times a day, I reflect on these words and the possibility that if Luca and I keep getting up every time Prince knocks us down, eventually we can fly away.