There is a tranquility at my lonely kitchen table. It’s modest, quiet, and tarnished. There is a candle from some fancy shop in the center of a town just far enough out to be a trip. There are some dishes from this morning too; a plain glass, a cracked plate, and a fork. I eat everything with a fork. I Push them to the other side of the table like I always do, and open a self-help book on time-management or some similar bullshit. These are what gifts become when you enter adulthood, I guess.
I stop for a second to look at the picture that has become a bookmark. I think my Aunt in one of the Carolinas sent it to me for Christmas. It is of my cousin and I, seven and eight I’d guess, in that big opened living room we had when we were still down south. I can see into our dining room in the picture, (it was probably the only legitimate dining room we ever had) and on that table is some china I’d never eaten off of and some chandelier bulbs dad hadn’t yet installed. The living room was pretty impressive for our family too, big old stone fireplace, two matching velvet chairs and a long ass sectional my parents split up in the divorce.
Then there is Jessie and I. I’m wearing a red sheet wrapped around me like a strapless gown with a longer train than any wedding dress I have legitimately seen. Jessie too, is decked in linens, but she is pulling off a sassier short look. Her sheets are pinned up at the hips with hair ties and her own popcorn-butter-coated-fingers. We both tied up our straight blonde hair in knotty buns and left out some straggly strands for show. I am holding a hair brush (that did not belong to me) and has the word “princess” inscribed on the pink grip. Jessie has the real microphone; she must have bribed with a good secret to get it for the day.
Looking at the picture I can hear us singing Britney Spears at the top of our lungs. My dad walks in and out of the memory, desensitized to our booming presence. Sometimes we’d yell demands like :
“Daddy, This dog can’t be on stage with us, it’s barking over my singing!” or,
“Uncle Mark, can I have a Pepsi? Britney always drinks Pepsi and we are just as famous as her!”
Then he would let the dog out, and brink us drinks. He would be muttering things under his breath about how we should “marry wealthy” cause we clearly weren’t ever going to be “cut-out for day-jobs”. He’d tell my brother and his friends that “at least we were ambitious” and he would tell our mothers that they should teach us to be “realistic”. He would tell us we should hope we were “cute like this forever” because he saw no signs of “the crazy in us calming down”.
We didn’t mind back then, we would steal away with our sodas in our dresses and write fairytales about becoming famous and being on Oprah.
Sometimes in the end we married princes- but that was always for the tabloids. When we were young, famous, and successful princesses, we were romantic classics, and we were always in love with the poor boy next door.
It sure as hell made for a good story.
I called him a couple weeks ago, the poor boy next door. He didn’t have long to chat, he translates for the UN now and has two kids. His wife is a stay at home mom I hear, but she is better at being best friends with their nanny. He asked what my plans were and where I was in life. I laughed anticipating how surprised he would be if he knew how calm the crazy in me had become. I looked at my kitchen table and ramshackle apartment and I told him, “I’m pretty successful too. I’m saving up to buy our old house back.”
I will get it all back too. I’ll be trading in this tarnished table for chandeliers and velvet chairs. Even if it means marrying a prince for the tabloids and wearing my best red sheets. Daddy should be proud.