I did an interview with the fabulous JR of Sex and the Single Dad.
Part of his series on Magnificent Moms.
Shut up. I am magnificent.
I so am.
Back here on Pretty All True?
I am visiting my aunt.
My father’s sister.
She lives in Chicago.
A long Greyhound bus ride from the Western side of Michigan. All by myself.
I am perhaps eleven.
These few visits to spend time with my aunt alone are the highlights of my childhood. She adores me. I worship her.
Her large apartment is filled with treasures gathered from her travels around the world.
Her long hallway’s walls are lined with black and white framed photos of her time in the theater.
My father appears in some of these photos . . . or not my father, but a man I recognize as having been my father at some point.
I love these photos.
I want them.
My aunt is tiny. Tiny and beautiful and glamorous.
She is all that I know I am never going to be, but I pretend. I run my hands over her closets full of clothing. Press my face to their scented luxury. Slip my feet into her shoes. Slide her jewelry around my neck and my arms.
Everything about my aunt’s life is what I want for myself.
I want heavy crystal glasses from which to drink my orange juice. I want clean crisp sheets on my bed. I want dishes of candy that no one ever eats to rest upon small gorgeous tables. I want closets filled with things that are only mine. I want a bathroom filled with lotions and make-up and perfume. I want barstools that swivel. I want the globe that opens up. I want the seltzer water dispenser. I want a pantry filled with food.
I want a hallway of photos.
My aunt is funny and brilliant and engaging. She speaks to me as though I am an adult, and I love her for this. She does not ask me about my life, and I love her for this even as I desperately want her to inquire.
We pretend together that her life is enough. We will share that life.
And what a life it is.
She takes me to the theater. She takes me to the ballet. She takes me to restaurants. She takes me to the movies. She takes me on a boat ride down the Chicago River.
I want this life.
She flirts with men everywhere we go.
She takes me to bars.
She drinks a lot.
Everywhere we go, everyone loves her.
I want to be her more than I have ever wanted anything.
She drinks a lot.
She is the most fabulous person I have ever known.
She gets louder and flirtier and more outrageous.
She drinks a lot.
I want to be her.
I want to live with her.
I fantasize about this a lot.
Toward the end of one of these visits, I sit with my aunt on her small balcony. It is late at night. We stare up at the stars. She is all drunken emotion and love. She hugs me and tells me I am beautiful and smart. She tells me that wonderful things await me in this life. She tells me that I am special. She tells me that difficult times mold and shape a person, and that I am lucky to be getting my difficult times out of the way so early in my life. She tells me that I should spend my time becoming the smartest, most educated person I can be. I should cherish the hardship of my life, because it will make me great.
She tells me that I should be prepared, because life can change at any moment.
I am holding my breath.
I want her to offer to change my life in this moment.
I am filled with want.
I hold my breath.
She stares up at the sky.
Points out the sparkling constellations visible in the dark black night.
Pours herself another drink.
Stares up at the stars.
One of them is moving. Too slowly to be an airplane. Maybe a satellite.
My aunt is obsessed with the moving star.
She stands and stares into the sky. Is it really moving? She holds her arm outstretched before her to gauge the light’s movement against her stationary hand.
It is moving.
She begins to speak of UFOs.
Not a conversation but an angry paranoid hostile rant.
Her face distorts and comes too close to mine.
The world is ending, and I am too stupid to recognize this fact, apparently.
I am no longer holding my breath.
But I breathe as quietly as I can.
I breathe in and out . . . my aunt’s heady perfume fills the air.
A scent that is unique to her in my mind.
But the air I breathe as she rants?
I want to disappear.