ONE THING I DO NOT RECOMMEND IS
Seeing the film Beloved with your mother. It is harrowing anyway. But I didn't see any of it coming. It came out at the worst time between us, actually; we were going on dates because we couldn't stand to live together and we couldn't stand to look at each other, but we couldn't stand to be apart either. And we got in the car after, shaken separately and together, and stared straight ahead.
"Sometimes when it gets too dangerous, a mother rabbit doesn't know what to do. And for whatever evolutionary reason, to save them from what's coming, sometimes she'll eat her children. It's a rabbit, she probably doesn't think about it too much, but that's the instinct. To save her babies from what's happening next."
And then she looked me in the eye, not crying but not entirely dry-eyed either, not smiling but not asking for anything either. "I thought about it."
Things were better after that. And I don't know how to explain why, but maybe you know what I'm talking about. I don't think we've fought since that day. I had a worse childhood than some but not most, just generally speaking, which is why I don't really talk about it because it's not that interesting or relevant, and I got in my own way a lot, and there was a lot of Dylan in my growing-up, and I am still trying to grow up. But things were so, so much better after that. What a relief. I don't think I've ever been so proud.
And so somewhere in the middle of this moment, this frightening and intimate and violent and gentle moment, you can see how it calms her. It's not a taming, she can't be tame, but it goes through her like a slap, like sparks, and then they can just be there, without Norman in the middle, without the house being about Norman and the family being about Norman, and just be two people that have known each other a very long time, and can't stand to look at each other, and can't stand to be apart.
Which is every son's story, and every mother's too. Because every time he calls her a whore, he is begging to be loved, to be forgiven his trespasses, forgiven for being a man; and every time she says she hates him, hates the man she made, what she means is I love you, horribly.
What she means is it's the hardest thing of all, to let go of someone you love. And yet somehow we do, sometimes. Even when your body says otherwise. In the absence of Norman, they flow toward each other like water, like beasts. And that's the silence the doorbell drops into; that's the situation Zach Shelby drops into, when Romero arrives to arrest Norma Louise Bates for the murder of Keith Summers.