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go for it
It’s the end o summer at 556 Gresler Ave, Archwood, MD.
I’ve lived in Maryland my entire life. We moved around a little, but never really went anywhere too exotic. The truth is I didn’t even know if I wanted to go anywhere. We’ve gone to the beach a couple of times and I have an aunt who lives in New Jersey, but that’s about it.
My aunt Terry is one of those “artsy-fartsy” people. She’s very exotic, unlike her sister, my mother, who was good at science and logistics. Terry has an art studio in her house. It’s pretty cool, I have to admit. I have some fond memories of just walking around looking at her paintings. I would first take a look around, gather some ideas about them and then she would come after me and explain the meaning behind each. If I got one of the meanings correct I’d get five bucks per picture. I didn’t win much. The most I got was fifteen dollars. I didn’t mind because I enjoyed learning about he pictures I didn’t quite understand. Then after strolling through the gallery she would try and get me to do some painting. I tried it, you might say, but I have to tell you, it was no Picasso; even if it looked abstract. My aunt Terry would always laugh a little bit, which didn’t hurt my feelings at all, because I really didn’t think it was that good. Although, she would make me take them home and put them on the fridge, which, didn’t really make it out of the car, but on occasion I’d find myself taking a few pictures of the ocean with me to remind myself how beautiful it is there.
My mother and I live in a yellow house. Who paints houses yellow anyway? If it were my house it would be orange. No one has an orange house. It’s the perfect shock factor and originality factor.
I’m sitting in my room painting my fingernails. One thing you should know about me is my nails are always painted. Black, purple, orange or sometimes even…yellow. You could really tell because of the multi-colored splotches in the shape of a finger just at the corner of my desk, that’s a bit too small if you ask me. I always seem to get the hand-me-downs from my big brother Matt. He’s away at school now and has a desk there. You can definitely tell it was second hand because there’s the word MATT carved into it along with some band stickers stuck to the side of it. That I didn’t mind, because like the furniture we share we also share a taste in classic rock music. Hendrix, Zeppelin, ACDC, Oozy Osborne and a few others.
Nail painting took a lot of patience. No rushing, which is what I always ended up doing. My supply of nail polis remover was almost always diminished. On the slowest of my days, which were few, I’d only mess up a couple of times.
This was what I did after every disappointment. When my grandmother died, I used black with lime green tips just to make’em look alive. When my father decided that my mother wasn’t exactly what he wanted, but the assistant at his office, which was always so friendly, a little too friendly if you ask me, I used a dark maroon with black polka-dots. I thought it fit.
I don’t know what it was about nail polish. It just worked. Something to look at as I drove for hours delivering pizza after pizza, looking for the house they described to me on the phone. “Not the first green house, but the sixth one with Christmas wreath still on the door...”In mid-August. Okay, got it.”
The only sad thing about nail polish is that the stark color that went on top always came off first; so disappointing. But I guess that’s how it always is, you put the vivid color on top hoping to even out the depressing one underneath, so that people don’t think you’re one of those creepy Goth people who sit alone at lunch or so that people don’t find out that you’re life is actually depressing. In a couple of days you’re staring at a black nail with what seems to be a smiley face but is actually just a few dots that don’t smile, but just sit there, doing nothing.
I thought about investing in those really expensive nail polishes, you know the ones you get at the nail parlors that stay on for almost a year. I wouldn’t have to worry about anymore chipped nails, or scratched off smiley faces, but why have the same color on for a year? It’s so boring and they are expensive and my job is just above mediocre
So I finish putting on the final coat on my pinky nail that finally looks like the rest and grab my ‘Gilligan’s Pizza’ hat and red polo off my chair that I despise and head down the stairs for the last few deliveries for the summer.
I give my mother a hug as she slowly stirs the cream into her coffee. She mumbles a goodbye with her pink lipstick still on and I head out the door.
My mother works at a rehab center at night and barely catches enough sleep in the morning. She got her degree in social work and always had a passion for helping people through hard times. I guess that’s why I decided to stay with her and not my dad, because I knew she would understand what I might be going through. Even though I never really talked about my issues with anyone, it was nice to know I had someone around who might get it. Music and nail polish were my therapy and I’m going to stick by it.
I see my not-so-perfect car is sitting in the driveway. A small red Honda with a side mirror missing from the time I thought I would make it between these two cars going 40 mph, apparently not. The paint looks pretty good and I guess the best part of my little ‘wonder’ of a car is the radio. It gives it an edge over the other cars on the road, because who needs to stare at a great-looking car when you can hear a nice ‘jam’ blasting at about ’50 decibels’ next to you at a red light. I spent two weeks pay on the system, so it better be good. So I drive it around to and from work.
The pizza smell lingers here and there like a mix of cheese, onions and maybe some peppers, not my personal favorite, but it’s not like it’s going away anytime soon. I roll the windows down smile at my pine tree air freshener, crank the jams and roll out of my driveway to my cool job that often pays for my superb collection nail polish, my sound system and some gas that gets me from one delivery to the next; nothing special.
I get to a red light and rap my nails on the steering along with the beat that’s playing. I start to space out and think about when first started painting my nails, when my grandma died. I had only a few memories of her and my papa. I visited them a lot when they were alive. Our favorite thing to do together was play Scrabble, which I loved because I was pretty good with words. I bet if they were still alive that’s what we’d be doing. I caught myself smiling for an instant, they only lived twenty minutes away. I wondered what it must be like to live only twenty minutes from your parents your whole life. I guess my life would be the same, not seeing it going very far . I guess I was like my mom in that way. As big as our dreams were our feet only went so far. My space-out was quickly disturbed by a loud horn behind me. I suddenly shook myself back into reality and gassed it until I got to the next light.
I get to Gilligan’s and notice everyone around me is smelling the air and asking what they could possibly be cooking that smells so good. I should say “Pizza! It’s a pizza restaurant!” Jeez, it’s not that hard. But I don’t. I suppose I don’t even smell it anymore.
When I wash my uniform I’m curious as to what that smell could be, then I realize it’s the smell of fresh laundry, not week-old pizza. I get to drive my car and listen to my great sound system on that pizza smell, so I say nothing.
When I get inside I see my 20-year old cousin Shawn hitting on some 16-year olds in the corner booth who are just blown away by his friendly smile, dashing charm and luscious musician-like blonde hair. Ugh!
Get a modeling gig for crying out loud. I guess if there’s one thing he could be good at it’s picking up chicks.
He has it down to a science/art?. The guys in my gym class should take notes.
Anyways, approximately 5 seconds later he walks by me, flashes a smile and sticks a number written on a napkin in his back pocket along with all the others. I roll my eyes and shake my head. Oh well at least he’s good at something, so I say nothing.
He comes behind the counter and looks at me,
“Hey, how’s your mom been doing since…?”
“Pretty, good. You know, the usual”. He nods, making less eye contact. He and I started to get pretty tight when my grandma died and my dad split. I’d come to his house, which wasn’t far from mine, with a pillow and a toothbrush and he’d welcome me with a hug and some pizza. I sadly, took both. He was the one who got me the job. He realized how much I needed to get out of the house, and said that the money was decent. So I took it.
Without noticing I started rapping my nails on the counter. A habit of mine.
“New nails huh?”.
“Yeah… just painted them this morning.”
“Looks good, better than the last ones.”
“Yeah…thanks, I thought so. The last ones were kind ehh.”
“Mhmm” he nods and pours some coffee into a mug for the woman sitting at the counter. I stop elaborating and decide it’s better that way. We had an understanding. He compliments my nails. I say thanks and he nods as if he wants me to go on and explain why I chose the designs that I did, but I don’t.
Shawn and I were like that. Our conversations had direction, but not much else. He didn’t really talk about his feelings, so I didn’t really talk about mine. To be honest I didn’t talk about my feelings to anyone. I guess I just blared the music and went to school to forget about everything. Somehow the guidance counselor at school heard my parents were getting a divorce and tried to get me to talk about it, but I just didn’t have the strength. I didn’t know where to start.
The silence was finally broken up by my boss yelling to me from the other end of the restaurant with his ear to the phone.
“Yup, large, with pepperoni on half and just cheese on the other. Sure no problem.” He hangs up. He motions to me to come over and stacks three pizzas in my scrawny arms. Time to get to work. I wave goodbye to Shawn on my way out, he waves back and then starts to wash down the counter.
I walk back out to my not-so perfect car and put the stack of pizzas on the roof as I open the passenger side door and then carefully place them on the floor; so they won’t fall from the seat and get pizza all over the place, forming a nice pizza-y smell that lingers for days. Pleasant. I get into the driver’s seat. Seatbelt, check. Mirrors, check. Adjust bangs, check. Start engine, check. Tune radio to some decent rock and roll, check. Pizzas, check, check, and check. Here we go. Delivery number one coming up.