I talk to my mother on the phone.
Even that’s surreal, after several years of no contact. She’s changed. All my life, she expected me and my sisters to meet all her emotional needs. Now she’s married, and she has someone age-appropriate to meet her needs. She’s not as crazy anymore, not in the harmful ways she used to be, and I can talk to her without getting sucked into the crazy demands. I still don’t trust her. I know she’ll never acknowledge the harm she did to me for most of my life, but I also like feeling like I finally have a mother. She hasn’t said anything cruel or manipulative in the year or so since we started talking again. But it’s like she’s both my mother and not my mother simultaneously, on a number of levels, and that’s surreal.
She tells me my uncle, her brother, just sold his computer security company to Raytheon for $420 million. I literally had to write that down because my brain couldn’t translate how many zeroes that was. I can’t relate to that amount on money. Right now, I have $7 to last me the rest of the month. I only bought four rolls of toilet paper because I couldn’t afford any more than that. I don’t think I’ll have enough money to pay December’s rent, and my power and heat bills are overdue.
But my uncle just sold his company for $420 million. That’s $420,000,000, in case any of you also can’t conceptualize that many zeroes without seeing it.
He worked hard, and I don’t begrudge him his success. But certainly the law of diminishing returns kicks in at some point, right? I can’t even comprehend what you would do with that much money. To put it in perspective, that’s more than three times the annual budget for the National Endowment for the Arts. It’s surreal. I don’t even really know him anymore, but even if I did, I don’t think I could ask him for it. But it’s bizarre, realizing that a man with whom I share 21.9% of my DNA (yes, that’s an exact and oddly specific figure) has $420,000,000 and I don’t know how I’m going to pay $400 in rent. How can that even be real?
My mother keeps saying how much she’s looking forward to seeing me for Christmas. I tell her I’m excited about the trip too, but I’m detached. I really don’t believe I’m going to live that long. Three weeks, but I don’t think I can make it. I think I will probably kill myself when I can’t pay my rent. But I tell her I’m looking forward to it because I can’t exactly tell my mother I’m probably going to be dead before then.
Everything feels surreal, and I feel like I have no attachment to anyone or anything, like a helium balloon floating away.