…I’ve just hit the “send” button on the e-mail application that’s been saved as a draft in my gmail account for over a week. I’m applying to take part in a queer women of color writing group which just may be the ticket to my writer’s funk. So I thought I’d test out an excerpt on you blogger friends. An opinion is very much appreciated. Please and Thank You.
Next Blog will most definitely be about the woes an anxiety around turning 30. Apparently this is a big birthday.
~Grace entered her parent’s house early the next morning before anyone was awake. She walked into the foyer and put her coat on the coat rack. Walking through the foyer into the family room, she smelled her father. The smell of stale pipe smoke and damp wool from working in the garden. She walked through the family room to the mantle to look at the many pictures of her family. Her parent’s wedding picture. Her father’s face resembled her brother-young and strong, while her mother looked like her older sister Samara. The same dark hair and full lips. There were picture of her siblings before she’d been born. The three of them on the couch, her mother with a smile on her face and her hand resting on fullness of her belly. Pictures of her father. At the grill with a broad smile. One of him fishing with Ralph. Several during the holidays. Her favorite was towards the back. Her father was younger then, she wasn’t sure if any of them had been born yet. The picture was an old-black and white-a tight shot of just his face. He wasn’t looking at the camera, rather through it-as though he was looking directly into your eyes through the photo. She picked up the old framed photo and studied the image of the father she’d never known. Before her time-when he was young, a newlywed. What was he thinking? What did he want for his life. Was this it? A devoted wife, four children, a large house in the suburbs. Did he want more? Was he happy?
Instead of returning the photo to the mantle she put it on a side table, deciding that it needed to be enlarged for the memorial service the following day-if Samara hadn’t already selected it. Grace sat in the family room alone in silence listening to the sounds of the house. It was early but starting to get light. The birds outside the large family room window-in the trees surrounding the house-were already chirping in the early autumn morning. She’d been traveling since late the previous night, yet wasn’t tired.
Stepping away from the mantle and into the center of the room, Grace took in the space around her. Not knowing, she began to make circle in the middle of the room. Reflecting on each object as they passed her line of sight. Her father’s chair, the entrance to the room, the wall papered walls, the old wood floors, the carpet beneath her feet. When she found herself at her starting point; the mantle and took deep inhale and went to the kitchen.
She turned on the tea kettle and scooped out four large rounded spoonfuls of ground coffee into the French Press Pot. While she waited for the water to boil she sat at the kitchen table and looked around the kitchen. Not much had changed in the room since her childhood. It was the same room. The room looked a lot smaller than she remembered, though. It was strange, she thought, how rooms seem to shrink in size as you grow older.
She could remember spending hours under the kitchen table she was sitting at now. When the table was covered with the white delicate table cloth her mother some times used it was like a fortress. She liked it much more then. Even though the table cloth only came down about half way from the space between the table and the floor-it seemed like a shield. It became a barrier between her and the outside world. Grace would spend a lot of time here, under the table, in her fortress while the rest of the noise of her family went on around her. She was sometimes forgotten there. It was these times that she remembered the most, liked the most. She could eavesdrop on her mother talking to Faye on the telephone, listen to her sisters talking about boys, watch legs walking back and forth. To from the stove to the fridge and back. She liked spending time there-by herself, but never really alone.
Grace moved to Montreal before finishing college, to the dismay of her parents, to live life in another country. Montreal was far away-but not too far from New York. It gave her a sense of closeness that was still far away-like being under the table.
“When did you get in?” Gertrude asked her youngest daughter.
Grace stood and hugged her mother warmly for a long time before walking to the cabinet to take out a mug for her as well. The water had started to boil and she busied herself with making the coffee. Gertrude, already dressed for the day, sat at the table and watched her youngest girl child. She reminded her of herself when she was about the same age. She envied Grace’s spirit. How she never conformed to what you were supposed to do. When Stanford would rage at Grace when she came home with only one year left of college it was Gertrude who calmed him down. She understood Stan’s anger. She was at Columbia studying Art History, she maintained a solid, near perfect GPA and was being pursued by Christies the MoMa, and the Guggenheim. For what seemed like no reason at all she announced that she would spend her summer in Southern India instead of taking an internship with a gallery, as planned. When her father asked about her plans for her final semester and her career, she casually answered that she was thinking about not returning.
Through Stanford’s pleading, bribing, and sometimes yelling Grace stood firm in her plan. She spent the summer in India, traveled to Egypt, West Africa, Ireland and Scotland, and France. When she called to say she’d found an apartment and a job with a gallery in Montreal it made sense to Gertrude. She knew that eventually Grace would come back, but that she would still be away. In Montreal she was able to pursue her real passion of creating art-not studying it, showing it, or buying it.
“About an hour ago, I didn’t know you were up,” She was standing at the kitchen sink looking out into the back yard at her father’s garden. “I still can’t believe he’s gone.”
“He was proud of you, Gracie, you know that? We both know how stubborn he was-always bringing up old shit, you know? But he used to Google you all the time, he’d laugh at how many websites mentioned your name.”
“I know he was proud, Ma” Grace said turning to look at her mother. “It’s just odd, you know?”
They were quiet for a while listening to the sounds of the others upstairs through the floor boards.
“It’s a lot of house, Ma, what’re you going to do?”
“Don’t worry about me, Gracie.”
“I do though, Maman, I mean with him gone…”
“C’est la vie, isn’t that what you Francophones say?”
“Oui,” Grace answered with a small smile. “I just worry about you, that’s all.”
“Well worrying never got anybody any where, did it? Faye’ll be here in a bit, she’s staying with me you know, so I won’t be alone,” Gertrude said drinking her coffee. “Want something to eat? Hungry?”
Gertrude busied herself making her famous apple cinnamon pancakes while Grace watched at the kitchen table. Maybe, Grace thought, it was time to get back to the States. All of her family was there, and now with her father gone it seemed like a good choice. She could stay in the house with her mother, for a while at least, to see her back on her feet