It was a tiring Saturday morning. An unexpected revitalized sunny day in the month of September. Sluggishly moving out of my rumpled bed, opening the window panes for cross ventilation. The feeling of going back to bed to satisfy these sleepy eyes. How wonderful it would have been. Yawning out loudly. Catching a glimpse of how messy I looked through the cheval glass seating at a corner set aside for my studio practice. “Do all visual artists always look this unorganized or is it just me?” Laughing at my silly thoughts. Knowing I only draw for the fun of it. Looking out through the window panes. Noticing how crystal clear the sky was.
I live at Clinton Hill, Brooklyn – New York. How relaxing it is to live on a rooftop building with a little spaced comfy patio. The joy that comes from being able to view the Midtown skyline from a different angle. Birds singing, mothers holding their children at the busy crosswalks. Crowded parks. Pets taking out for walks, cars horns echoing, suddenly bringing life to the usual quiet morning. Motioned at one spot for minutes, carried away with the view. Embracing the coolness of the air. An unexpected distracting noise came from the passageway.
“I shouldn’t have come with you!”, the masculine voice shouted. “I should have stayed back home with my babies. They are probably missing me now or fast asleep.”
On reaching out to the door, the voice got deeper and familiar. It was uncle Tony. Mum’s kid brother, like he gets called. I knew it! Who would have shouted very early in the morning? Creating disruption that might have stopped neighbors from sleeping. Only my dear uncle Tony would dare. As of the moment, it is either he’s together with aunt Jessica or grandpa. The three look alike never get along easily. All they do together is argue. How bittersweet.
“Your babies? Wait, I don’t recall getting a wedding invite or hearing of your baby shower, so what babies?” a female voice said. “Oh, you meant your two cute white puppies? At least they are cute and not like…”, she continued, mumbling out the remaining words so soft that I couldn’t hear.
Now I knew it was definitely aunt Jessica. Aunt Jessica is few inches under six feet, plain-featured with a slim body shape. But her skin was clear, her long blonde hair hung down past her shoulder, covering her neckline. The blue flowering gown she wore matched her boot and hair tie. Giving a unique sense of fashion. Uncle Tony had a plain white t-shirt on, a coffee pant and a pair of leather shoe. His hazel eyes gleaming under the reflection of the sitting room light. These two are the best definition of adversaries, only if they weren’t siblings. How much fun that comes with their dramas. But it is just 8 a.m. What could have been the urgency? Why did they travel all the way from California to New York unexpectedly?
“Hi uncle Tee, hi aunt Jessy. What brings you two to my humble abode?” I said, searching for immediate answers. So curious and hesitant that I didn’t remember to invite them in.
“Well, at least would you first let us in before this interrogation,” said aunt Jessy.
“Oh, my bad. Come on in,” I said. “What would you both like to drink? Uncle Tony, I don’t have your favorite decaf coffee anymore so would you both prefer other beverages?”
“Yes!” shouted uncle Tony. “I’m dehydrated from merely trying to have a conversation with your aunt.”
“Sapphire, water is fine by me, thanks.” said aunt Jessy. “I can’t wait to tell you why we are here.”
Rushing back with their desired drink, giving them minutes to slowing empty their cups. Afterwards, they were done relaxing. Uncle Tony saw the eagerness in my eyes and blurted out why they visited.
“You are moving in with us Sapphire,” uncle Tony said.
“Oh, you both scared me… Wait, what! It’s a joke right?” I chuckled.
“It’s exactly the way your uncle said it dear,” aunt Jessy explained. “Your parents called to let us know that since they traveled for the past three weeks, you have been staying home all by yourself.”
“True, but am fine aunt,” I said. “I can figure this out myself. Don’t tell me you have forgotten that I would turn 18 years in few days? Uncle Tony, have you forgotten? After all, I now do things myself. I get ready for school, make my meals, do my laundries, pick up mails…, I don’t want to be treated like a kid anymore. I know am the only child and my parents loves to always protect me but am fine by myself.”
I panicked. This is too sudden. I was doing okay all by myself. I do things carefully, I have good grades, I make sure am a good example of the child parents would be proud of. Moreover, mum and dad didn’t tell me beforehand. Although, since they had been travelling when I was two, this would be the first time I stayed home by myself. Still, I don’t want to go to California. I do not plan to travel. I do miss my parent’s absence but I would also miss my home-alone moments. What of my friends here in New York? My favorite gym down the street, my school? I don’t want to change schools. I’m already in my final year in high school. It would be hard to blend in. What were my parents thinking? I was dumbfounded. But the underlying truth is that I want to be free. All through these years, every family gathering, formal occasions, I have never made my own ultimate decisions. All I have is the freedom to pick out of the varieties given by my parents.
My parents are business couples. They want the best for me, provide for my needs while they are gone for business trips, but still I was restricted from certain freedom other children have. I am not allowed to have friends out of school. No school parties, sleep overs and much more, which is my parent way of protecting me. I have always had a nanny that does all things in my stead. I love nanny Phibean because she understands me better and gives me a little freedom when she has the chance but still has to follow instructions laid down by my parents. Poor nanny Phibean, she had to quit last month due to personal reasons that was kept confidential. No one told me why she left so suddenly.
I know what my dreams are. Part of my long-term academic dream is to be a cardiologist. To be that person that cares for people needs. To dress their wounds. To give them the certainty that the surgery would be successful, which is part of why I tend to do well in my studies. I barely do great in science classes but the passion I have for healthcare keeps me going, whispering to me that I can do this. All these I can’t do without being able to decide for myself. Freedom, a free will that leaves no regret. When you ultimately have a voice. When your principle stands. That moment you feel very happy when decisions are made independently. How I really anticipate for the very day my parents would say, “we trust and respect her decisions, she is old enough”. I would be the happiest person on earth. I would jump up with excitement. Seating both parent down to share my views on certain issues. How ecstatic.
“Oh dear, are you still with us?” said aunt Jessy. “It seems your mind wandered out of this planet,” she chuckled. “You got it wrong, we meant you are moving in with us temporarily. Your parents would be staying longer than expected. You should start packing up now. The return flight from Brooklyn, New York to Santa Rosa, California is in 6 hours. Just take belongings you would be needing for three weeks,” aunt Jessy explained.
“Oh, but still I don’t think I have a say on this right?” I asked.
“Well, you know the answer to that better than we do,” said uncle Tony.
“Will you stop causing distractions? She needs to get going now,” said aunt Jessy.
“That’s the problem,” uncle Tony said. “I wasn’t talking to you Jessica.”
“I think I would be the one taking care of two grown-kids, instead of you two taking care of me,” I snapped. “Can’t a day go by without an argument? How have you both lived with each other for years, without one ending up with swollen eyes?”
“Well, if I can pull it off this long, then, just give me few more months,” said uncle Tee. “I just need to keep hoping she either gets married within a year or I do,” he said jokingly.
“Oh no, keep dreaming,” said aunt Jessy.
I went upstairs to arrange the clothes that I would need, which took me three precious hours to put to place. I came downstairs, but uncle Tony was fast asleep, while aunt Jessica was busy getting emotional with the Asian TV show she was watching.
“Can we get going now?” I asked.
“Well we still have few hours left before the flight departure,” she said.
“Are we not commuting down there?” I asked looking puzzled. “The cab would definitely take an hour to get us there and we need to get ready also, at least get there an hour early.”
“So right,” she said. “Wake up, Tony! We need to go now.” Aunt Jessy kept hitting uncle Tony with her little purse. “We are going to get late!” she continued.
“I am definitely the adult here,” I said, smiling.
It was a long drive. Uncle Tony slept all through the drive. It was better than having to hear them start their little dramas all over again. I was busy texting my friends. Telling them I would be missing classes for few days. Thank goodness that I was still on break and it would last for two more weeks. I would have actually miss school for three weeks. My parents have some explanations to do. Missing a whole week of my cheer-leading at school. I felt so sad at the thought. I tried calling both of them again but it just kept ringing on and on, so I was only left with leaving voice notes. Hopefully, I hear back from them before boarding the plane. Although, I knew it would be a 0.0001 percent chance out of a hundred percent chance of both returning my calls since they are always busy with works on weekends. Well, it doesn’t hurt to try.
While commuting down to the airport, I thought of everything. Where I was going. I have never been to Santa Rosa, California. Would it be fun? Would it be too sunny? What if my parents decide to let me stay there fully? The little days I had by myself when my parents traveled felt so good. However, it would be fun to have my aunt Jessy and uncle Tony around me but there’s a BUT. They won’t even really have time for me. Uncle Tony is a policeman but doesn’t act like one though. Aren’t policemen fierce looking and tough? He always jokes around, and takes things with levity. Aunt Jessy on the other hand is a medical assistant. My role model. Thinking of it now, both would mostly be busy with their lives. I might still have an upper hand at this freewill. I doubt uncle Tony would give me a hard time, he would definitely support my decisions during the three weeks, and aunt Jessy would probably be tired from her day to day job and would barely have time for me also. I think I can give all these a try, not that I have other options. Let’s see how it goes. I heard a deep snore from behind. A snore that tells me uncle Tony has landed safely at his dreamland.
“You will be fine Sapphire.” Aunt Jessy said.
“Hopefully,” I said. “Just promise me you will spare me from an earful of arguments. You two siblings need to get along at least.”
“Smiles,” she said. “That is our way of getting along dear. You see grandpa never stops us from yelling at each other, instead, he would join the disruption.”
We both laughed out loud, and quickly checked to see if we haven’t disturbed uncle Tony. Well, we didn’t. California, an adventure that might end with excitements. Here I come!