Going Home

April 3, 2011
By KatGrace BRONZE, Grovetown, Georgia
KatGrace BRONZE, Grovetown, Georgia
4 articles 0 photos 1 comment

A dining table had never felt more like a prison than right now. I’m sitting, literally cornered since we had to cram extra chairs in for all the relatives. I’m suffocating, but I keep eating my food and smiling, nodding when it seems appropriate. In between the chatter, they drown my mother in the obligatory compliments. "The turkey is delicious!" "How do you make the biscuits so flaky?" But the only thing I can think of is, “I’ve had better than this.” Everyone always says they love their mom’s cooking more than any chef’s, but I don’t. It’s not that she’s a bad cook. It’s just that I’ve gone to Paris and eaten souffle, India to eat curry, and to a little hole in the wall on 2nd and 81st where they put out chocolates they would make the Swiss weep. Her food is nice but my tongue’s been spoiled, tainted with the tastes of the world.

I think they know this. They don’t say it, because here it would be rude to actually speak your mind, but their eyes accuse me of being different. I moved to a city, had a life, and am therefore no longer one of them. They scrutinize my face for traces of the small town girl they once knew, but instead all they find is someone foreign and weird. In their minds they gape at my city walk: fast and with a purpose, eyes always set straight ahead. My slight accent grates against their ears. Hell, even my smell puts them off. I smell like the bakeries I walk by every morning and the menthol cigarettes I’ve taken to smoking and the faded words and pages of the used bookstore I love and pastels from my little makeshift studio. Old ink and new places and freedom.

It’s the freedom part that they don’t get. That they don’t like. They hate that I escaped them and the sanitized, suburban fate they had planned out for me. When I left they cut me out of their hearts, shoved me in a box and burned me. I was better off as ashes in their minds. They all try to hide it and pretend like everything’s still the same, but their smiles never reach their eyes and even the sweetest compliments always seem to have an edge. At this table they choose to either ignore me completely or stare. Stare, stare, stare. Boring holes into my skull until I have to look down at my plate and push some peas around with my fork until someone pulls their attention away from me.

I am different; there’s no denying that. My hair is cut short and there’s ink in my skin and a barbell in my eyebrow and I actually have a style now and I am more cynical and words like vitriol and anachronism frequently tumble out of my mouth without me even realizing. I am different, but so are they. Or at least, they seem like it. Is it possible that they were always this bitter, this closed off? "Yes," I reminded myself. There was a reason I left and being shackled to this table only makes me miss my city more. I need to get out of here. I have to get out of here. There’s no air. I’m choking. I have to get out of here.

“Lydia dear, how’s life in the city? It’s pretty exciting isn’t it?”

Nope. Not now. Not today. Today I have to pretend I don’t know they all hate me. Today I have to pretend I don’t hate them just as much. I put on a smile and take a breath. Here comes the show.

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