What a coincidence!

December 29, 2011
I’m not going to lie, this was weird. Actually, more than weird. It was just flat out awkward and all I could do was smile and pretend that I was enjoying this.
It was early February. We were in Boston, which happened to be over 400 miles away from Baltimore. Not to mention, it was way below freezing and there was about four feet of snow on the ground. While I should have been in Florida, I was stuck here in Boston surrounded by people I didn’t know for my entire winter break.
I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie from the dessert table and went over to the window. Outside the white snow was gracefully falling from the sky. My mom was laughing in the background and the guys were watching a Celtics game.
I was mad. No, more or less bitter rather than. I had never been an outsider. But that’s how I felt. I just wasn’t meshing with anyone in the room. What made me most angry was the fact I was not this type of person, at all. I loved new things. I loved meeting people. I loved adventure. Yet, I was kind of opposed to this experience. Maybe it was because it was thrust upon me all of a sudden. I didn’t know.
At the moment all I did know was no matter how much I tried I didn’t feel accepted, which was weird because the people surrounding me were my family.
My father was adopted at birth. He had a great upbringing in Virginia and now owns a successful advertising company in Baltimore. But, he always had these nagging questions in the back of his mind.
Why was he given up? Who was his biological mother? Where was she now?
So he set out on a journey to find his biological mother. For a year, he was left empty-handed and had not found any helpful information. Then, he contacted a locator. And let me tell you, this man was a genius. Granted, it took time, but a little over a year later, my dad had a phone number. He reached out to his biological mother and it turned out she had been looking for him too. They met and instantly bonded. Six months later, my older brother and I met our grandma, Monica.
It was hard for me to understand how a person could give up a child. At first, I didn’t accept her. I was mad at her. But then, she explained to me that she regretted giving my father up. However, neither of them would have had the successful lives they did now if she had kept him. She was only 15 when he was born. I began to understand her decision. Monica revealed to us that my dad had 2 younger brothers and 3 younger sisters, who were triplets. Eagerly, my dad contacted them and met all of them.
This was great. Our family grew immensely because it turned out each of his siblings had at least 4 kids.
Our family migrated to Boston over winter break to meet all of them… at once. It was mayhem. For the first time in a while, I felt like an outsider. For the past few days I had been here in Grandma Monica’s beautiful house, with family, food, warmth and laughter. But for some reason, I did not feel accepted by the people surrounding me. I wasn’t connecting with anyone. I felt very different from my New England relatives.
I felt a little hot and claustrophobic. I needed some fresh air, so, I snuck out to the sunroom. The land surrounding the estate was beautiful with rolling hills and just beyond the stone fence that encircled the house were horse stables, where Monica kept around twelve horses. The snow added a beautiful touch. We had snow in Maryland, but it was nothing compared to this.
I sat down in the wicker chair by the bay window and replied to a few emails and texted my best friend, Brooke, who was down enjoying the sun in Florida. Goosebumps began to form on my legs. I decided to go back inside. I bypassed most of the gathering and headed up the kitchen stairs to change out of my dress and into some sweats. I took my time and even organized my side of the guest room. I gathered my dirty clothes and folded my clean clothes placing them back into my suitcase. My brother Zach’s half was getting a little scary and we’d only been here for a few days.
I went into the powder room to brush my teeth and wash my face. And yes, it was a powder room. The actual bathroom was through another door off of the powder room. This room was a place where women used to go and freshen up and gossip at dinner parties. It had a large mirror that covered almost an entire wall, with an ornate gold frame. It gave off a very elegant and classic look. I danced around listening to Pandora radio that was on my Android, not paying attention where I was going, when I ran into someone who was coming out of the bathroom. My ear buds popped out from the impact and I lifted my head up to see one of my cousins standing in front of me.
“Sorry.” I said as I passed her realizing she was the cousin who I had snapped at earlier. She stood in front of the mirror checking her makeup and fixing her short dark brown wavy hair. I began to brush my teeth and washed my face.
“It’s alright, Hayden.” she said. As gracefully as I could, I spit the remaining toothpaste into the sink and wiped off my face.
“You’re Becca, right?” I asked looking over to her, feeling horrible I didn’t even know if that was her name.
“Mmhmm, I’m Ted’s daughter.” She replied as she sat up on the counter.
“Right I knew that.” I said setting my tooth brush down and turning to her. “Sorry about earlier. I’m not usually like that. It’s just this whole has been overwhelming.”
“Honestly, our bark is louder than our bite.” She said smiling. I laughed. “It’s crazy that a part of our family has been missing all along.”
It was a relief to know that she wasn’t holding a grudge against me. I put my long wavy blonde hair into a bun and began to wash my face.
“You seemed kind of pissed off all day,” she continued. I laughed again.
“It’s more like my dad just thrust this upon me.” I wiped the soap off my face and put some lotion on it. “I was hoping for a more gradual approach, but he thought it would be better if we just met everyone at once. And I had to cancel a big trip to come here.” I paused. “Not that it was more important than this, but it was so last minute a lot of people weren’t very happy with me.”
“Ohmigod, I understand completely. I was supposed to go to New York City with my friend and now she’s not talking to me,” Becca said twirling a piece of hair around her finger. “So, I’m in the same predicament.”
“My parents can be so frustrating sometimes.” I said sitting up on the counter next to her. “I can’t wait to get out of there.”
“Wait, are you still in high school?” Becca asked.
“Unfortunately,” I sighed. “Only 4 months left.”
“Same.” She said. My mouth dropped. I had just assumed she was in college.
“That’s so funny. I really thought you were in college.” I said as we both laughed.
Were we bonding?
“Nah,” she said casually. “Technically I won’t be in college for another year and a half.”
“Are you working?” I asked while spinning my phone in my hand.
“Nope I’m going overseas for a year,” she said. Once again my mouth dropped in astonishment.
“You’re not serious are you?” I asked.
“Hell yeah,” she smiled “I need to get out of here and explore the world. I’m going to Finland for a year.”
“It just so happens I’m going to Sweden for a year.” I said laughing.
“No, you’re not.” Becca said laughing, as if I were joking.
“No, I really am.” I said in a serious tone. “Through Rotary right?”
“Yes! That’s crazy I can’t believe we’re both going. That’s awesome. Have you started learning the language yet?” Becca asked. We both now had smiles on our faces.
“Yeah, I use Mango and Livemocha like every day.” I said. “How about you?”
“Same. But, my boyfriend’s mom’s best friend’s sister-in-law happens to be from Finland, so I have my own personal tutor.” She said.
“I wish I had a private tutor. But it’s really easy for me. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be.” I said.
“Are you nervous?” Becca asked.
“Very. But my dad went through the process so I know I’ll survive it.” I said “It’s going to be so different.”
“I know. During Christmas, I was like I’m not going to be here next year.” She nodded. “Where did your dad go?”
“Denmark.” I replied.
“Sick. All of the Scandinavian countries are so modern and liberal. They were trying to get me to go to like Romania or Turkey and I was like no way.” Becca said.
“I know. They wanted me to go to Poland or Germany and I was not interested at all in them.” I said. “France was my first choice, but with all of the smoking we weren’t sure how it would affect my asthma.”
“Gotcha, Chile or Ecuador would have been cool too.” She added.
“Yeah, I had Brazil as my third choice, but I’m happy with Sweden. It’ll be an adventure.” I said smiling.
“We definitely need to get together when were over there.” she suggested.
“That would be such a relief knowing I had family that close to me.” I said.
“Are you bringing your laptop?” Becca asked.
“Mmhmm. I actually just bought one because I found out I’m not going to be able to bring my phone.” I said.
“Aww, why not?” she asked.
“It’ll cost like a few hundred dollars a month with all of the texting I do.” I replied.
“Aww, well, that’s what Facebook and Skype are for.” Becca said.
“Exactly.” I said in agreement.
“Is that Clinique?” she asked pointing to my facial scrub.
“Ha no. Everyone seems to think that, but it’s actually this stuff my dermatologist gave me. It works miracles on my skin.” I said.
“Well whatever’s in it is working. Your skin is so pretty.” She said. “Hey I’m going to Quincy Market tomorrow has Gram taken you there yet?”
“No what is it?” I asked.
“It’s like a farmer’s market and has a ton of different food stands and then it also has a giant Victoria’s Secret and Coach,” Becca explained. “Do you want to come?”
“Yes! I haven’t been shopping in like forever!” I said excitedly.
“Sweet, so-“
My phone started going off and as soon as I looked at the caller ID I knew I couldn’t ignore it.
“Sorry, I have to take this,” I said answering “Alisia, how are you?”
“Oh fine, darling,” she said in her Danish accent. “I was out shopping the other day and I found this gown and I thought it would be perfect for you.”
“I’m so excited,” I said enthusiastically “What does it look like?”
“It’s emerald green with empire waist and it’s a halter with jewels everywhere. It’s very Grecian.” She said describing it to me “They also have it in navy. When can you go for a fitting?”
“Um let me check my calendar.” I said scanning through my phone. “Can we do sometime in April?” I asked.
“Sure how about Saturday the 15th? I can send a car and we can do the fitting in New York or D.C.,” Alisia suggested.
“Let’s do New York. I haven’t been to the city in a while.” I said typing the date into my phone.
“Okay sounds good, I’ll email you the details once I know where I’m staying.” Alisia said.
“I’m so excited.” I exclaimed.
“You should be,” she laughed “Alright, well, I just wanted to check in with you and I will be in touch.”
“Bye Lis!”
“Bye Hayden.”
I hung up the phone and turned to Becca, who was looking at me like I had ten heads.
“What was that all about?” she asked looking confused
“Well long story short I’m meeting the Danish royal family next year.” I said calmly.
“No way!” She said putting her hand to her mouth. “How is that possible?”
“When my dad was in Denmark his host family worked for the royal family. They were like the richest family in Denmark and had all of these connections, so my dad met them a few times. He’s kept in touch with a few of the princes, but this will be the first time in a while that he’s actually going to see them. We’re all going to a dinner in November or December.” I explained.
“That’s so crazy!” she said laughing.
Then I had a revelation.
“Ohmigod you should totally come!” I said “You and Alisia would get along so well!”
“Do you think I could?” Becca asked.
“I mean, you are family after all.” I said.
“Anyway, who’s Alisia?” she asked.
“Oh, she’s just one of the princesses,” I said casually.
“Oh just one of the princesses?” Becca said with a shocked look on her face “And you guys are besties?”
“I mean we’ve never met in person. We only Skype or text or talk on the phone.” I said.
“But, she’s a princess?” Once again she repeated the question.
“Yeah, she is. She’s not in line to rule, but the queen is her grandmother.” I replied.
“Hayden, that’s crazy!” Becca exclaimed.
“I know, but she’s like the nicest person in the world.” I said shrugging. “We’re both going to be over there, anyway, I don’t see the problem of one more person coming.”
My phone went off and it was a text from Alisia. I opened it to see this beautiful gown.
“Ohmigod it’s beautiful you have to wear it!” Becca said while slightly freaking out.

“I love it.” I said staring at the jewels that sparkled throughout the image. “The best part is if you can come, Lis will find the perfect gown for you.”
“Really?” Becca asked.
“Oh yeah she’s a stylist in Europe.” I said as I sent the picture to Brooke.
“This is incredible.” Becca said “I’m happy you came even though you were dragged here.”
“Me too,” I said laughing. The powder room door opened up and my mom walked in.
“Oh hello, girls,” she said looking at me “I was wondering where you snuck off too, Hayden?”
“We were just getting to know each other.” I said.
“Well, I’m happy you’re finally opening up,” my mom said.
“Mom, guess where Becca’s going next year.” I said trying to avoid confrontation.
“Where?” she said turning to Becca.
“Finland.” Becca replied.
“Oh, that’s wonderful.” My mom exclaimed.
I spent the rest of winter break bonding and actually enjoying spending time with my New England counterparts. Becca and I planned weekend outings, some where I would head back to Boston and some where she would head down to Baltimore. In the meantime, Alisia found Becca the perfect gown and I chose the emerald green gown. Everything was falling into place. And I couldn’t wait for the rest of the adventure to unfold.

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