Would you like to see my house? The antique chandelier, terrazzo floors. Guess what? I’ll wear Gucci for you, shoes Christian Louboutin, hair perfectly coiffed, sheen and lacquered, eyelashes curled, teeth pearly white as delicacies abound.
Hello. Would you like to see my house?
It’s on the top floor. Isn’t that where you want to be? Penthouse they call it, yes, that’s me. Come on in. Shhhhh!
Foyer. Do you want to see my house? Look at the antique chandelier, the terrazzo stone floor. I’ll wear Gucci for you, shoes Christian Louboutin, hair perfectly coiffed, sheen and lacquered, eyelashes curled, teeth pearly white and shining, smiling ear to ear.
Three little dolled up children will run up to greet us as we enter the palatial expanse, arches bend towards us as the palatial domed ceilings embrace us, the rose fluffy carpet singing underneath our feet. The colors in the room will embrace you while the waves outside will lull your eyes, the royal velvet couches with the leopard print, the Italian chandelier handmade murano glass surrounding you with each sconce cawing like a siren. Yesssss, you will think, as our smiles endear you, yessss, you will feel, as delicacies are passed, the finest scotch or cognac made perfectly for you.
We will whisk you then, you still enraptured, with clever conversation a smile and joke, while the world’s perfect grandparents arrive, beautiful and lively and full of stories of country stars and comedians from another world, distant but in their not so distant past, story after story with a charming smile, and you will adore them, oh yes, you will adore, as another drink gets whisked your way, another nibble makes its way onto your lips.
You are in the “ruby room” now, as we like to call it, the Moroccan den crawling with carpets and fabrics, where the children like to sit, hukkahs hover in the corners, the world’s most endearing checkered velvet couch beckons you in, the tapestry shipped straight from Morocco encases you, dozens of tiny little aqua Turkish lamps speckling the rich cherry ceiling, flicker about, beckoning to the ocean’s serenity outdoors.
The children will encircle you full of joy; one will bedazzle you with a piano concert fit for Salieri, another will flip around like Mary Lou Retton, the third will flash his winning smile while you lose yourself in his sea green eyes. If you bring your own little wonders they will run off together and the joy and the laughter will overtake. Thissssss you will believe, you will know with every fiber that is you, thissss is magic.
Eventually we will emerge into the piece de resistance, gilded in every direction, a 20 foot long dining room, the glass top set beautifully with in laws’ china, sterling silver cutlery and a cloth napkin perfectly folded with each seat displaying Its own unique ancient napkin ring. The glasses, bought in auction, match perfectly, each uniquely made in Eastern Europe, where they hovered for a stay at the ambassador’s home, a palace that made our home look like a shack.
The blessings will be said while the children each cuddle up and the joy in the singing will abound. The food will come out in troughs, and it will be delicious – after the zucchini soup gets snatched up by the help, out comes the apricot glazed chicken, perfectly crisped, as moist as can be, accompanied by a must use gravy boat, saffron rice with peas, lamb chops, a rainbow colored salad, vegetables spiced to delight the palate, like you’ve never had before, and bread so moist you’ll use it to sop up whatever lingers on your plate.
You will anticipate dessert, as well you should, as the dark chocolate pies hiding in the oven spread their beguiling scents across the home…
You will leave the night entranced, excited, mesmerized, enchanted…
I will leave the night exhausted. There will be pride, the joy of creating a masterpiece, a picture of dorian gray, a tour of the senses, an image of what could have been what could be and what is… and then …
On a quiet night, perhaps the next night perhaps later in the shadows, in my lonely bed, a tear will drop perhaps another, I have a secret, I will nod, a secret too too much to say, the bottles and the glasses whisked away each crumb removed the helpers smiling padded in their pockets have gone home, and I, I have a secret….
I remember with a smile, a smile and a tear, those days when a secret was a power, something to announce at a playground, run around with and giggle in the corner, something special only we knew, we could keep it we could own it we could walk with the strength of that bond…
But this secret – it is quiet, unassuming, stuffed inside, a tiny little worm gnawing at my insides far too long without discovery, I have a secret and it’s eating me it’s pawing at me it’s scraping me away and it’s hidden so deeply inside that my outside is a shell a smiling pretty shell and my inside is quietly but quite aggressively assaulted, devoured.
When I was living in New York, in my 20’s, I had a cat. She was black and white and prickly with others but super sweet with me. She had been rescued, and in fact, I hadn’t meant to keep her. I fostered her one day, having seen the ASPCA outside, and within a day she was mine, temporarily. My sister, the doctor, had been staying with me that week, which was a blessing for the cat, who it turned out was sick, and if it was just me I may have sent her back shrugging my shoulders. But a doctor friend nursed that baby back to health. And then she was just mine, I was the person she saw day in day out, and she was my little dependant. We were a team and each night she slept on my face as I drifted off to sleep…
A few years passed and suddenly I was sick, a kind of environmental sick, systems shutting down it was unclear from what. Eventually we tracked it back. It was Yalla. I was allergic to my little person, to this tiny being who depended on my every move. This little ball of love was making me ill. I couldn’t give her up I thought, not Yalla, so I kept her around, spoke lovingly to her, sang to her, but just didn’t touch her. Within a month, she was horribly depressed. Her eyes grew empty, her movements grew slow, and I knew what I had to do. As painful as it was, I found a special shelter where they actively place cats. And within the month, she had found a home with another black and white dog and she was happy. And I was alone.
The children cuddle me they love me they give me their love, their admiration and it fills me and makes me happy. My husband fills the home with humor and adventure and with things. A few friends drizzle about, the number has dwindled as my story has grown quiet, but those who are there are there have listened and offered wisdom. The emptiness has grown.
I have a secret. It is so damn buried that even as I sit down to write it I am unable to I am frozen I am scared. Fear abounds with each key stroke and I cannot write. My heart hurts. My heart just hurts. I am alone inside, the shell remains.
The glitz and glamour the gild surround me, the colors abound, the things mount up, the glory glows, that which once mattered dwindles, the world shrinks, the heart hurts, and I am here, frozen, wondering when the next step will step forth….