He was cute, cocky, and approached me with an irresistible smile. He'd moved to Vermont to get out of New York, specifically Long Island, and I never knew what he actually was studying. I knew he worked in the city auditorium; was it with lights and sound?
Where did we meet? He had a dark mohawk, his face, despite being scarred from a bout of severe teenage acne, was irresistible; his brown eyes laughed, always reflecting a unique bit of altruism mixed with defiance. He was the drug and I was the user.
In the autumn, before the cool whipping winds overtook our afternoons, we met and ate ice cream, shared apple cider and smoked Camels on Church Street. As the snow fell and the days became shorter, darker, and lonelier I frequented his place where we smoked a lot of weed while watching stacks of rented videos. He was like a soft shell crab, not hard to devour, yet he required a special palette. Perhaps it was just the way one might be coming from somewhere Long Island.
I was 22, a nanny for a wealthy family in a huge, historical home in downtown Burlington. Talk about dysfunction! I thought my family was twisted but WHOA! What I saw from the side lines as a semi-servant was completely trauma invoking. The mother was gaunt, white, privileged and mighty pushy. She also was a bull headed multi-tasker who volunteered for the private school her daughter attended. She coordinated the children's holiday play and was a cut throat realtor. Night after night she sat at her desk in the kitchen pouring tall vodka and tonics and chain smoking while making phone call after phone call about one detail or another regarding the impending drama. Her husband, an alcoholic on Antabuse, drank despite the inevitable side-effects. One morning he came to me with a vomit packed bedspread and asked if I could wash it. I told him it was much too large for the family laundry machine and advised him to seek out an industrial sized machine at a pay and go in town.
Thanksgiving was approaching and God knows my choices of how to spend my time were limited. When mohawk asked me to Long Island to meet his family I jumped at the opportunity. Did he like me, like, LIKE, me?
When he pulled up in his buffed Camaro, complete with fuzzy dice and waved to pick me up, the little girl I cared for squealed with excitement as she saw him smile at us from the curb, " Your boyfriend is so cute!". I blurted out - He is not my boyfriend! We are just friends.- I actually wasn't sure what we were and when he asked me to drive home to his folks for Thanksgiving I initially hesitated. Knowing that I wasn't getting a free plane ticket home to either of my parents and that Thanksgiving with my temporary family felt doomed, I conceded.
I packed a classic maroon, floral dress, pantyhose, lace up black ankle boots for dinner, pyjamas and of course clean underwear as well as a gift of Vermont maple syrup for his mother. I wore ripped blue jeans, a black turtleneck under an oversized grey wool sweater for the ride. He was in jeans and a flannel shirt, surprisingly he seemed ruggedly handsome and I felt good slipping into his classic car.
No sooner did we hit 89 south did I realise he was driving well over the speed limit, manoeuvring from lane to lane like a Nascar driver and to boot he was puffing a good sized joint. I asked him to slow down. "What? You think I don't know how to drive? I'm from New York!" he scoffed. The Talking Heads were blasting, "Psycho Killer" and I was certain this would be my last ride anywhere with him. What was his name? I am sixty now; we were twenty something...his name started with an "M". I am sure of it.
We arrived hours later at his boyhood home. Simple, middle-class, and very enthusiastic parents ran out to greet us with his younger teenaged brother behind them. Hugs, new dialects, talking over one another and tugging us in by the elbows was sobering. His mother shuffled me around for the household tour and I overheard his father saying, "What a beauty!", then, " She's a real keeper son!"
I freshened up and changed for dinner and entered the family den; dark panelled with little light some game was on the television and "M" and his father were drinking beer while munching on salted peanuts. His mother was setting the table in her finest dinnerware and I offered to help. She was exuding pure joy; her two sons, her husband, and a potential daughter-in-law?
At last we were seated, M's father prayed. " Thank you for our bountiful feast". Knowing I would never be at this table again, I offered, "Amen".
On the way back to Vermont the drive was slower. He asked me what I was thinking about. I stared out the window at the falling snow; I wasn't thinking at all. " So what do you think about my family?" I turned to look at him and smiled. I am not sure what I said but I remember the feeling forty years later.
I am grateful for their warmth, the apple pie, my sense of feeling honoured and welcome on a day that so many others had no place to be. I would not be their daughter-in-law, his girlfriend or fiancé; I'd never see them again, yet for one Thanksgiving I felt I belonged.
About the Creator
Writing truth or fiction, feels as if I am stroking across a canvas, painting colourful words straight from my heart. I write from my old farmhouse in Sweden. *Favourite Munchies while writing* leftovers, hot coffee, herbal tea, good wine!
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Compelling and original writing
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Original narrative & well developed characters
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme