The Hierophant: “You’ve come as far as you can on your own … open your heart and your teacher will soon appear.”
So my mom calls, and we talk a little–she was surprised that I was at work yesterday, given the rain, but the roads were fine and the rain mostly cleared up by mid-morning. I ask how she’s doing, and at first she just sighs. “Oh, Susan, you have no idea. I don’t know what to do with Judy anymore.”
Judy and my mom have been friends forever–I lose track of when they met, it wasn’t high school, but it couldn’t have been long after. I was at her house all the time as a kid. She has three kids, the youngest is a girl, Jackie, who was a year behind me in school, close enough in age that we spent a lot of time together. When I was Declan’s age I might have told you that Jackie was my best friend. So many of my childhood memories are from Judy’s house–listening to a Carpenters record on a small purple record player in Jackie’s entirely purple bedroom, ducking under the water in the pool to avoid low-flying dragonflies, drinking a bizarre Coke-and-milk mixture at dinner because that was the only way Jackie would drink milk. (I also remember very vividly the day that Judy drove me home after hanging out at her house, Jackie and I were lolling around in the way-back of the station wagon, smoking candy cigarettes, and my mom lost her goddamn mind when she saw us, because I was NOT ALLOWED to have candy cigarettes. (My mother, watching her own mother slowly dying of smoking-induced emphysema, was not playing around when it came to glamorizing cigarettes.)
Judy’s husband left her when we were in fifth or sixth grade, moved to Boston to start a new life with his secretary. That started a sort of downward spiral for the family, although looking back on it I feel like things were maybe not great in their house even before that? A lot of memories look different several decades later. As Jackie and I got older, we stopped getting along as well; I remember we kept having to spend time together because our moms were hanging out but it got increasingly unpleasant.
Anyway. My mom and Judy still talk but not as often, I think my mom finds Judy exhausting but she isn’t the type of person to give up on a friend. Except maybe she’s getting there.
“I don’t know, she was on the phone this morning screaming at me and crying. I called her friend Natalie to see if she could do something about her. She’s hearing all this crap from Jackie, she says they’re going to end up in concentration camps.”
This is about Covid, by the way. Judy won’t get vaccinated and won’t let her immunocompromised cancer-patient husband get vaccinated either, which is driving his doctors crazy apparently.
“And she’s upset because they’re going to make you show the card in order to eat in the restaurants in Ridgewood, and Judy says this is unfair because she can’t get vaccinated. I told her that it’s not that she can’t, it’s that she won’t. She doesn’t listen to me. And she’s got little Christian there, and he’s screaming into the phone that he won’t let anyone give him a vaccine, he doesn’t want to die.”
Christian is Jackie’s son; he was born the same day as Declan, actually. Jackie has an older kid, she was seventeen when she had him, though, so he’s all grown up now, but Christian and Declan being born the same day has a kind of shadow-world vibe, like the paths not taken.
“I don’t know, Susan, I just don’t know what to do with her. I told her that Daddy and I both got the shots months ago and we’re fine but she says that when they do autopsies on people who had the vaccine their internal organs are all fucked up, like they mutated. I told her that isn’t true but she’s got Jackie pouring this in her ear, all this toxic stuff she’s getting from, I don’t even know. The internet maybe. I don’t know what to do with her anymore.”