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I used to love to drive, but now, I think that I might just live with my parents for the rest of my life because I don’t even want to move out. I don’t see how any of my siblings mustered up the energy to travel so far from out of town. Max lives in Korea and she came from a much longer distance than anyone else did, and I am tired from simply thinking about going to the store that is ten minutes away.
I can't help but to feel that this visit is going to have a sour note at some point. You ever get that gut feeling that something bad is going to happen? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I am usually right about these things. Not saying that I am psychic, but I guess that I am good at guessing in these situations. My family used to be very close and we still are, but families go through a period when we separate. The more apart you are, the faster things have time to fester. When you see each other, they fall again.
When I am around my family, I always have felt that I should grow up faster. Because everyone around me is much older than I, I started to act older than my age. I loved really mature and big clothing and used to fuss like a grandma at two-years-old. Everyone would laugh and thought that I was just being a kid, but what they probably didn’t know was that I thought that I was getting older. It may not make sense, but somehow, I thought that everyone saw me as their mother or something.
Kids never wanted to play with me and I didn’t have many friends because I didn’t act like they did.
I would walk into school and they would ask me,
“Yanny or Laurel?”
“What the heck, bro?”
“Come on. Which one did you hear?”
“Um, Laurel, I guess.” What the heck even is a Laurel?!
They would go off with their friends, laughing and telling each other to pay up because there was no Yanny. It's stupid things like that that I don’t participate in and people think I am crazy for wanting to be different. I desired to have friends and wanted people to like me, so I tried to do what they would do. I tried dances, clothing styles, slang words, and new technology. Then, I realized that I wasn’t being myself. It seems as though people only like you when you act like an extrovert. That was when I stopped caring and decided to do what I wanted to do. If people only like you for what they want you to be, then that could explain why they never flock to me. It’s nothing wrong if you are naturally a people magnet and if you like trends, but people think that it is wrong when you aren’t.
I hate trends. You want to know why? They put a restriction on what everyone is doing and they say that you should be doing it too. And when someone has a different perspective, they get upset. That, and because no one talks about Yanny or Laurel anymore.
Besides the fact that I was so sick, I was glad when my mom took me out of public school.
It’s not that I tried to be different, but I just always was.
For example, if you put chocolate on an onion, it's not going to make the taste better. Not only is it going to be disgusting, but the chocolate doesn’t change the fact that it is still an onion. If you want to change for the better, then put things that will match who you are.
I rubbed my numb hands together as the freezing cold weather pierced my skin when I got out of the car. I was sure that at some point, it was going to snow in my bloodstream, that is how cold it was.
I stepped out of the, as my dad calls it, “deep freezer” weather, and walked into the heated grocery store. I first opened the folded shopping list and began to skim through it to start my hunt. The list read:
- ranch dressing
- cranberry juice and sauce
- dressing mix
- paper towels
First of all, there are going to be no dishes with tomatoes in them, and second, why do we always need paper towels when there are only three of us?
I was already upset because of the fact that I have to go out in this freezing cold, by myself might I add, and we need paper towels, again. I love driving. I really do, but when I have to drive 40 times a week for the same thing is when I have a problem. I think I finally know how my mom used to feel. Me and my friend paper towels are starting to become frenemies.
I don’t understand why I am so upset.
“It’s like people don’t even notice me unless I have to go to the grocery store for them. Metaphorically speaking. What I mean is that people only want me when they need me and it has always been that way,” I thought.
When Max and I were younger, she used to sing all day long, and to everyone, she had a beautiful voice. Personally, I loved her voice, but I was used to hearing it and kind of wished that she lost it for a few days. It may sound harsh, but when you are reading and your loud sister decides to sing a song in the bathroom because it has "good acoustics," it doesn't matter how good she sounds at that point.
Of course, there is always that one person who is not good at those things and therefore, gets overlooked. In most cases, people only look to you for what you have instead of who you are. I know that it sounds cliché, but the truth is the truth.
I was never upset until my dad chimed in on everyone else who was praising her. The only ones who didn’t were my sisters and my mom.
I was left on the sidelines. The only time my dad paid attention to me was when I did sing and when Max moved out. I sing every blue moon, so that wasn’t very often. Don’t get me wrong, your girl can blow, but I choose not to.
I don’t understand why I am here when I always feel like I don’t belong, even at my own house. Max and J.K, and don’t forget everyone else alongside them, didn’t tell me that Max and J.K were dating for four months. I was the only one who didn’t know about it. Sometimes, I wonder if I have to go my own route so that I can understand myself a little better. Other than that, I feel like I did before I went to Mr. Davis: lost and forgotten. I can’t be the only one that thinks that everyone has different lives and you shouldn’t dictate which one is good or not. Like most people, I want to know who I am and my purpose, but sometimes, it is not to sing.
I huffed out of frustration as I was gathering the items off of my list.
“Even though I know he said it already, but I don’t think that the medicine can fix whatever is going on inside,” I thought.
I made my way to the cleaning section for the third time this week.
“This is my last item, so I am going to try and hurry up to get out of that stupid store. I love Arlo’s, but goodness knows that I am tired of coming here.” I strut down the aisle.
Once again, the paper towels were 16 ft high. It seems like it keeps getting higher and higher.
“There is another thing to add on to the 'tick Gabe off' list.”
I started to jump, but before I could, a tall guy politely said, “Let me get that for you.”
“I know that voice.”
I smiled and said, “Thank you. I really appreciate it.” He turned around to hand them to me.
“Oh. Hey! Paper towel girl, right?”
And I said, “Oh hey! Chunky shoes, right?”
“Very funny,” he remarked.
“You started it.”
“I suppose. So, what brings you here?” he asked.
“Paper towels,” I answered.
“Figures. You are always buying paper towels when I see you. Now I have a reason to start calling you that,” he joked.
“I guess so,” I laughed. He was very nice but I was not in the talking mood.
He stopped and said, “Hey, I never caught your name.”
“I didn’t throw it to you,” I joked. I was sitting there laughing by myself, when I realized that he put his hand to his chest and held it out of offense. Apparently, he didn’t know that I wasn’t serious. I have got to stop playing around so much.
I stopped laughing to say, “I was just joking. I saw that from somewhere.”
“Girl, you had me thinking you were serious. You cut me real deep, Shrek. You cut me real deep.”
“Did he just quote Shrek? This can’t be real!”
I looked at him for a moment. I love Shrek. All of them!
“You’ve seen that movie?! I love that movie!” I exclaimed.
“Uh, yeah. It was the first movie I watched when I moved to America; I am just glad that you caught that because that could’ve gone south really quick,” he replied.
“You’re not American?” I asked, shocked.
“Do I look American?” he snapped. I understood the remark. He is Korean, but that’s not what I meant.
“Oh. Asian boy has an attitude. I see how it is,” I sneered. “You sound American.” I defended myself.
“I am from Korea, but I became a citizen of America 12 years ago.”
“That sounds better. I didn’t need all of that attitude,” I protested.
“Touche,” he joked. “You never did tell me your name, though.”
“Oh yeah. It’s Gabe or Gabi,” I answered.
“I like that name.” He shot that smile. Like I said before, his smile has the power to cure all cases of acne.
“He is so adorable. Did I just think that?”🤦♀️
“What’s yours?” I asked.
“Hope,” he answered.
I used to have a “friend” named Hope. She was a girl.
“Isn’t that kind of… feminine?” I asked.
“You are a blunt one.”
“Hey, call it whatever you want. Honesty is still a good quality.”
“True. It may be fit for a girl's name, but I like it for myself.”
See! He gets it. He seems to not care about what people have to say. Confident may be the word to describe him.
We were legit in the cleaning aisle for a solid ten minutes and we talked about Shrek. He had never seen any of the other Shrek’s and there are four of them. He said that he had just kept re-watching the first one.
“Maybe one day we could watch them together,” he hinted.
“Uhm, you know… I may be a little busy, but… yeah. Maybe,” I replied.
I don’t really want any friendships to be sparking up, but I am not going to lie, I enjoyed our very random conversation. I don’t even think that I was able to talk to any of my previous friends, like this, when I did know them for a while. I had only talked to this guy twice and I already felt that we could be genuine and open. I could joke around and he wouldn't take offense. At least, I don't think he did.🤔
Wait, wasn’t I just talking about how I was feeling forgotten? I guess I forgot. 🤷♀️
"What took you so long?” Jess asked as I walked through the door. Chris and J.K took the groceries out of my hands and placed them on the counter.
“I am sorry, but it’s not summer outside. My fingers are numb from the freezing cold. There is only so fast a person can go and I didn’t see you helping me out,” I jeered. I took off my gloves and coat.
“So, when are you going to get started on the dressing?” my daddy asked my mom.
“Don’t ya’ll think it’s a little late for dressing?” she asked while twiddling with her fingers. I could tell that she had been thinking this through and knew that they would be upset, so she thought that playing with her finger would help.
They all sighed out of frustration.
“Mama. You specifically said that the dressing would be done by the time we got here,” Jess whined.
“I have things to do. Ya’ll don’t want any nasty dressing,” Mama said.
“But it’s only nasty to you,” Jess argued.
I rolled my eyes as I started up the stairs. When I have moody days, I often need to go to my room. So, at this rate, I don’t need dressing.
“Well, I might as well go to bed. What about you, Chris?” Jess asked while yawning.
“I agree. I guess we will have to indulge on the dish made by angels tomorrow. Goodnight, mama,” he said while kissing my mom’s forehead.
“Goodnight Chris.” She held up her hand and called to me, “Hold up. Don’t leave yet, Gab,” my mom called. I rolled my eyes as I came down the stairs.
“What is it?” I asked calmly.
“We want to hear about this boy that you were talking to at the store,” Tasha started.
I looked over at mom and she was smiling.
“Mom… seriously?” I said, annoyed.
“What boy?” My daddy asked. “Ma, you better not be liking no boys.” Daddies are pretty protective. At least, some of them are.
“Really, baby?” Mom asked.
“Don’t start with that stuff. The girl is 17.”
“And I am 58. I don’t see the difference.”
“That’s the issue.” I tried to quietly sneak away as they continued their conversation. It didn’t work.
“Where are you going, Gabe?” J.K teased. I huffed and stepping down from the last step and found them all giving me “the look.”
“What?!” I asked, and partly shouted. I was beginning to feel even more annoyed.
“You know what,” Tasha stated. I really didn’t. But to make things go by faster, I simply answered their antagonizing questions.
“There is not much to know,” I said. I tried to subtly walk away. J.K stopped me in my tracks.
“What’s his name?” J.K asked smacking with a mouth full of cookies. I paused and turned around.
“Hope.” I sighed.
“How tall is he?” J.K asked again.
“I don’t know. About five te—
“How old is he?” Jermaine interrupted.
I sighed. “I don’t kno—" At this point, my heart was starting to fluctuate and my head was beginning to pound from all of the noise.
“What’s his social security number?” Tasha interrupted as well. They were all laughing and pretty much harassing me, including Caleb with his constant yelling from playing with his toys.
Max walked in from the kitchen with fig bars in her hand. As J.K grabbed one out of her hand and ate one, she asked,
“What are ya’ll laughing at? I want to laugh.”
“Gab met a young man,” my mom said while smiling again. I don’t know if she is teasing me or if she is just being the mom that hooks their kids up with any person they see them with. It's funny because she used to say that we weren’t allowed to date. I wonder what changed her mind.
“Mom, you are seriously making this a much bigger deal than it is,” I said. She shrugged her shoulders.
“Oooh. What does he look like?” Max asked. For some reason, I decided to crack a not-so-funny joke.
I cocked my head to the side and pushed my tongue to the side of my mouth and said, “What does it matter to you? You are just going to marry him.”
It was so quiet that you could hear a feather fall. I don’t think that I have ever heard anything so… silent. I was starting to feel bad. Then my mom said, “I think that I am going to start on the dressing.”
“I think I am going to help you.” Tasha added. They left out of the room, which was now tense, and the air was thick.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Max asked. Her smile faded and you could sense that this was going to end horribly.
“It was just a joke, Max. All I am saying is that you take things that don’t belong to you.”
“I doubt that this is a joke. If you are referring to what I think that you are referring to, he didn’t belong to you in the first place,” she shot back.
“Look. I tried to avoid this and now you are making it worse, so please just let it go.”
“No. If want to say something then say it,” Max suggested.
“Max, its nothing. Just please stop talking to me.” I sat on the arm of the couch with my arms crossed. I was trying to calm down because when I get mad, I spew like a volcano that just erupted. Sometimes, it did seem as though she took things that didn’t belong to her. I couldn’t bring a friend over because of that reason. Max is the life of the party and she can’t help that, but I am the extreme opposite.
I was fine until my daddy added, “Look. Stop arguing. Ma, you had no right to say what you said.” Ma is obviously my nickname.
“Oh. So now I am wrong? You don’t even know what we are talking about.”
“I don’t even know what we are talking about! You are always mad at the world yet refuse to say anything,” Max said.
“Bro! Daddy didn’t even notice me until you moved out.”
“So, that is what this is about? That’s not my fault.”
“It's your fault because you didn’t care.”
“Who said I didn’t care?”
“You didn’t when everyone kept a secret from me!”
“And it’s your fault because you were supposed to be there,” I said while pointing my finger at my dad.
“How was I not there?” my dad asked.
“Do you seriously want me to answer that question?" I stood up from the couch and slowly backed away.
"You know what? I think I am going to just go to bed." And that was the end of that spout.
Max opened her mouth as if to say something.
“Max. No. Let her go.” J.K got up from the couch and made her sit down. He knew that she couldn’t handle chaotic situations without it going the right way.
“But I know how she gets. Most of that isn’t true and I don’t want her to be inside of her head all of the time.”
“Relax. I know that you won’t let that happen. But for right now, let her think what she thinks. She is an introvert. Her energy thrives off of alone time. She won't listen to you unless she has time to think,” he said while rubbing her shoulder.
“Ok. I think that I am going off to bed.”
“Ok. Goodnight.” He gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Don’t think about it too much.”
She shook her head yes and started for the stairs.
J.K sat down on the couch as silence lingered in the room.
My dad was still sitting on the side of the couch, looking through his phone. My mom walked through the door and asked, "Is tornado one and two gone to bed?"
J.K laughed before saying, "Yes, ma'm."
“Personally, I think that she is too young to date. That’s all that I was getting at,” my dad started.
"Baby, don't start with that stuff again," my mama added.
"I am serious," he replied.
“I agree, especially in the state that she is currently in,” J.K said. He sat back and rested his head on the back of the couch’s cushion.
“See? He gets what I mean. I don’t want her to get out there and try to live the 'best life'. Life is going to hit you hard so I say enjoy being young and try to learn all that you can because you only get that chance once. Young people don’t understand what they are getting themselves into,” he argued.
“None of your daughters are the type to live their 'best life',” my mom said.
"Yeah. Gabe is not naive. She may be stubborn, but she isn’t stupid," J.K added.
"Very stubborn at that, but it's not like she is going to hop into a random person’s car. If that happens, then I will see to it that she doesn’t see that person anymore,” Tasha said.
“All that I am saying is that I want my baby to be prepared and I don’t want some hormonal, teenage, boy to come and change the way she acts. A lot of boys don’t know how to love a woman. I know I didn’t when I was around her age,” he declared.
"Not every guy is going to hurt them," my mom said.
“Take it from a man, it is very rare to find one that will do well. I definitely agree with you, but I don’t think that she likes this guy."
"Yeah. I kind of got that vibe," Tasha replied.
"You three didn't see what I saw. She may not like him right now, but if it's one thing I do know is that she is trying not to like him." She went back in the kitchen to wash dishes.
"What did you see, Mama?" Tasha asked.
"Well, let's just say that I am in Arlo's almost everyday and every time I go there, I see that same boy. He always looks at me because he knows my face, but he never sees her. Last week, I took her to Arlo's and I knew that she was trying to find him. The girl couldn't pay attention for too long," she yelled.
"Oh no. She is in trouble," J.K stated.
"You got that right," Tasha added.
Mama walked back in the living room with a plate and was drying it.
"I went to the cleaning aisle and saw her talking to him. Every five seconds, they were staring at each other like they were afraid to blink."
"Awww my little sis is growing up. I think I am going to cry," J.K sniffled.
"Your little sis isn't so little anymore," Tasha stated.
"True. I think that I may be with Pops on this one. I want to see her with someone that will treat her right."
It was quiet for a while until Tasha and mama said, "Men."
"No. It's nothing like that. People often feel as though they can take advantage of her."
"Now that is true," Tasha stated.
"What does this have to do with her being upset?" Daddy asked.
"I think that she may be mad about something else," J.K said.
"Definitely," Mama added. "And it has something to do with Maxie." Tasha, who was cleaning her nails, stopped and looked up.
"Are y'all serious?" she asked. They all looked at her confused.
"What do you mean?" J.K asked.
"Let's just say that Jess and I told y'all that it would be a bad idea to not tell her that Max and J.K were dating," Tasha finished.
"I know, but I didn't want her to be hurt," my mama stated.
"I thought that it was that too." J.K admitted. "That is why is was thinking that since she’s hurt, I wouldn’t say it would be bad if she met someone who showed her that not everyone is here to hurt you.” He sat up from the couch.
"But if he touch her one time, he might have to catch these hands."
"I understand that, but you did a worse job by not telling her. Now, she's hurt," Tasha said.
“Who hurt her?” Daddy asked.
"You just missed that whole conversation," Mama said.
"Well don't nobody tell me anything around this house," Daddy fussed.
"Imagine how she feels," Tasha added. They all shook their heads out of understanding.
“As far as I know, anyone could have hurt her,” he assured.
"J.K, let me let you in on a little secret about females." He shook his head yes.
"Don't play with our emotions. Gabe really did like you and it hurt her when you married her because no one told her. I don't think that it was just because she liked you first."
"Yeah. Max told me the same thing."
"Now, all of what I am saying is just a theory. I know my little sister, though. I know when something is wrong with her."
"What should I do?"
"You should talk to her. I mean, Max should, too."
"Yeah. I think that there should be some clearing up," Mama said.
"As long as my baby ain't still suffering from depression," Daddy added. Jeon sat on the couch, thinking. (Jeon is his last name and everyone calls him that. I just call him J.K most of the time)
I don't think that he understood how much I liked him. Jeon was the only one that noticed me and that really meant alot. I never thought that I was pretty, which is partially why I was so upset when he dated Max. Max can pretty much do everything and she is really pretty. Me on the other hand, I feel a little... average. Which is fine, but you would at least think that someone would look your way. By no means am I desperate, but normally, someone would have asked me out by now. When Jeon kissed her, I knew that I would never have a boyfriend. I didn't mind having a boyfriend so that we could get married, but how can you get married if no one will talk to you? That is why I don't like it when Mama talks about Hope because I know that it is too good to be true. I mean, come on. Why would someone as good looking as that boy want to get to know me? I want to know who I am on my own. Hopefully, I am able to do that. Either way, I don't want to think that I am only worth it if a guy thinks I am.
After minutes of long thinking, J.K said, "I think I am going to go to bed."
"Yeah. You two came a long miles away." He leaned in for one of those dude hand shakes and Dad started for the stairs.