I despised her. From the moment I heard the first few notes of her most successful single, “Boundary,” I apprehended that my life would be different from other kids’. I distinctly remember this moment of hearing the song the way an ordinary child might remember a sixth birthday party or their favorite Christmas. But in that three minute, twenty-two second space of time, I knew that my life would never be my own, because it would always be about her. I was seven years old and it was starting to become apparent that adults would treat me differently because of my mother–from the teachers at school to the parents of my friends–none of whom would ever compare in stature to her. Or me. As a result of her.
Ten years old and it’s officially clear to me that there’s something strange about my mother’s profession. She never seems to be around. She tells me she has to go on tour for the album she released late last year. I don’t understand. Why can’t she just stay with me? Why am I not enough for her? Why does she need hordes of people to confirm what’s already true because of my very existence: that she’s loved. I, on the other hand, am not feeling so these days. My twenty-first birthday looms, bringing me ever closer to adulthood, and that point when I’m supposed to firmly stand apart from my mother. Forge my own path, career. But what can I possibly do that will ever measure up to what she’s done? The thought plagues me as I toss and turn at night, days before the accursed date of transformation arrives.
“Transformation.” That’s a laugh. I’ve been drinking since I was fifteen, and I can’t remember a time when I went a week without some sort of uncontrolled substance. I’ve probably had sex more times than my mother at this point, and that’s really saying something.
“Isabella! Isabella!” paparazzi shout to me as I walk down the street. I don’t know why. They feel being close to me makes them close to her. Their lurking and camera clicking has haunted me my entire life. I’m in therapy from the PTSD of feeling perpetually stalked. My mother, conversely, relishes the attention, seems to have been born and bred for fame. I can’t be her daughter. This is the last thing I could ever want. My only desire is to draw and paint in some remote wooded area, occasionally returning to my sequestered residence to fuck my husband. I want to be Bob Ross meets Picasso. Ah, but that’s another thing. These men aren’t feminist role models. My mother would balk if I told her about my wish to emulate them. Even though she owns a fucking Picasso. She can be a real hypocrite sometimes, if you want to know the truth. I don’t know where her loser fans got this notion that she was some sort of fucking god. I’ve heard the woman queaf, for fuck’s sake. And no, I don’t think it’s spelled queef. I went to a really good private school, so I think I would know better than you.
Shit, I need to buy another pair of sunglasses. Maybe a wig. They won’t stop hounding me. And with this birthday, they’re all going to be watching especially closely, waiting to see if I’ll “party too hard.” Jesus, this isn’t 2007, when it was scandalous to go clubbing as a famous person in her twenties. But I don’t want to do anything. I just want to sit in my custom, overly decorated with designer furniture dorm and stop time. Delay the inevitable: not living up to or surpassing my mother’s legend. Sure, she gave me a clothing line to run, but I didn’t want that. Nor is there anything meaningful or affecting about it. The shit gets sold at Kohl’s. Do you honestly believe the people that shop there are thinking about “message” or “intent”? Like my mother says, “There’s money to be made off the backs of retards.” So I keep the clothing line, recognizing its high value in the Midwest, in spite of many of the designs being, well, a bit slutty.
“Isabella! Isabella! What are you doing for your birthday this weekend?!” one of the trolls demands as I duck into my new boyfriend’s apartment building. His name is Martin and he’s going to produce the next Taylor Swift album. God, Taylor Swift. You see, it’s pop stars like her that persist in giving my mother all the more cachet. For as much as I hate her for birthing me to this life in a fish bowl, I see her value. See that she was the last and only pop star with any grit or authenticity. Of course, now, she’s fake as a Louis Vuitton from Chinatown. Somewhere along the way, she must have lost sight of her true identity, trying to be everything to everyone all the time. All the while, she could never seem to be my mother, paying other people to fill that role instead. I can’t tell you how many maids I’ve had. Even though I still keep in touch with most of them. They were the ones who came to the recitals, the plays, the band practices. Watched me while my mother was on the road. Regardless of whether or not she took me with her, she never had enough room left for me in her fraught mental state–never enough room left for me in her heart. Not really. Sure, she claimed to. To the magazines and the TV shows and, later, on her damned Instagram account. Yet for all this love she showed that she was giving me to her public, she never presented it to the purported source of all that effusion: me.
So yeah, when Martin offered me some heroin, I took it. You’d be doing heroin too if you had to produce the new Taylor Swift album. That’s part of why I liked him. He was a prisoner to a pop star, too. Totally reliant on her for the health and well-being of his own merit and bank account.
The feel of the needle piercing my arm is more and more, starting to be a greater allure than a dick piercing my vagina. Even though it does give me deep satisfaction to at least be able to surpass my mother in this regard.
Ah, so yes, there I was, the pop star’s daughter turned drug addict. Letting a producer have his way with me though I would never put out a record, never follow in my mother’s footsteps. Regardless of whether I had the “talent,” why would I want to? She’s done it all, broken every record. And I’m just an extension of her many achievements. That is, unless I inadequately represent her brand. And that’s the best birthday gift I could give to myself, isn’t it?: getting on the front page of every tabloid and gossip website for being a fuck-up. My self-bequeathed present serving my grand purpose of being Mother’s worst nightmare. Not just another one of her puppets on the carefully contrived stage of her existence.