1. My mother is apparently not speaking to me.
2. As far as I can gather, it's because of an offhand comment during a conversation on the way to the airport last week.
3. My father had given my mother directions from my sister's house to the airport. My father's directions are usually suspect as they usually involve "shortcuts" based on the roads he knew 30 years ago.
4. I suggested that we follow the signs that said "To Airport" instead of using my father's directions.
5. Turned out that the directions were the same.
6. Conventional wisdom in my family is that I can't find my own ass with a compass, a map, and detailed directions.
7. Yet I am the most well-traveled member of my family. I have visited and lived in more places than the rest of my family combined. I have somehow gotten myself to the far corners of the planet and back. In doing so, I have developed rather good navigational skills and a certain resourceful independence. But no one will let me forget the one time I got lost in my home town. About 16 years ago.
8. Somehow questioning my father's directions led to my mother calling me "mean." I'm not clear on the progression.
9. My mother has called me "mean" at least once each of the past three times I've been home.
10. Once was because she came into the family room where I was watching television, sat next to me on the couch, and proceeded to make an extended phone call. After she finished the call, I said something to her about it. She told me that I was being mean.
11. Later that same evening, she scolded my father for talking on the phone in the family room while she was trying to watch television.
12. This time, after she called me "mean," I responded that she could be mean, too. I then dropped it and changed the conversation.
13. She seemed fine when I left---even hugged me goodbye---but the next day, when I called, my father told me that she was upset. She apparently told him that I had called her "mean." She left out that she had called me "mean" first.
So that's where things stand. I think. My father wasn't at all interested in my side of the story. And I refuse to once again give in to my mother's emotional manipulation by being the one to call. I know that seems stubborn and petty, but trust me when I say that it's a necessary break from an unhealthy pattern.
There's slightly more to all this than can be encapsulated in 13 points, but the entire story goes back 30 years and you'd probably charge me by the hour to listen to it.
The last I heard from my mother was a terse e-mail earlier today: "Have a safe trip. I hope you and Rowen will be happy in Madison."