Home, or at least what has been home for the last 9 years, was empty as I walked through the front door. Placing my bag on the hallway floor I made my way deeper into the two bedroom apartment located in the West Village, making my way to the refrigerator.
There was leftover pizza, pasta, rice and chicken, a bag of apples, three bananas, two full bottles of Ocean Spray cranberry juice, milk, a half finished loaf of whole wheat slice bread, a case of Ginger Ale, and a piece of key lime pie. The pie belonged to mom so it was out of the question. Pizza tastes good hot or cold so I removed two slices from the remaining five, placed one atop the other, proceeded to fold them, and bit into it. As I took a second bite I removed a can of Ginger Ale and made my way to the kitchen table.
Sitting on top of the day’s NY Times was the mail. Despite it being early in the year I was expecting a letter from Wentworth about an upcoming event. It was a sort of dance for the seniors. Kind of like homecoming but not really. Sure enough three letters into the pile there it was.
I attended the party last year but not because I had been invited- the school made juniors cater to the seniors like their own personal butlers. It’s a tradition at Wentworth so who could argue with that? Even if it is stupid.
Inside was a short letter congratulating me on becoming a senior followed by the time and date of the event, which is scheduled for the day after the JV-V game at seven at the Park Avenue Armory. Along with the letter were two invitations emblazoned on ivory white paper with the school’s logo, a simple W encased in a circle, at the top. Charity wasn’t one for parties, not that I am either, but being that this is mandatory I’m sure she won’t have any problem finding a dress suitable for the occasion.
With the pizza and ginger ale in hand I headed into the living and took a seat on the couch, setting the can down and then picking up the TV remote. Once on, I immediately changed the channel from The Food Network to ESPN. Baseball season was almost over. Of the two New York teams only the Yankees were headed for the playoffs. Dad would be upset being a Mets fan. I didn’t care. I’m not originally from New York. Mom and Dad adopted me from St. Louis so I was concerned with how the Cardinals were doing. They too were heading for the playoffs.
As the announcers talked about the upcoming NFL games the front door opened. “I’m home.” Dad’s voice boomed throughout the apartment.
“In here dad.” I yelled in response. A minute later he stood behind the couch.
“Hey son. School go okay?” He said with his attention on the TV.
“First day always sucks dad.”
“You’re a senior though, son. Today should have felt different.”
Should have, but didn’t.
Dad finally took a seat next to me. “Ya know, I can’t stand ESPN. Baseball season isn’t even over yet they’re talking about football. Idiots.”
“Baseball is supposed to be ‘America’s game’ too.”
“Pffft. Crap on that.”
Dad wasn’t the type to drop cuss words. I’ve always found it hilarious how instead of saying shit he’ll use crap. Or rather than fuck he might say frick. It had nothing to do with religious beliefs because we’re not a religious family. Just a personal choice, I guess.
“Got the invite to the Wentworth gala today.”
“That coming up already? I could swear you had to attend during the spring.”
“Nope. I guess its their version of a homecoming dance without calling it that.”
His voice drifted as his eyes became vacant and then he turned to me.
“Got a date for it?”
“I’m hoping Charity.”
“I like that girl. She’s sweet. Kind of odd, but so is your mother so maybe I can understand where the attraction came from.”
“Are you saying I’m attracted to mom? Eww.”
“What, your mom not pretty enough?”
“This conversation just went from father-to-son to Freudian in .8 seconds.”
“Men typically date women who remind them of their mothers. That’s always how it’s been.”
“Does it count in the case of adopted son and mother, too?”
“I’m sure it does.”
“But not positive.”
Silence, then, “you think she’ll wanna go?”
“We’re back to talking about Charity, right?”
With a laugh dad nodded.
I shrugged my shoulders. “I mean, she might want to. We’re both not big on dances. Charity would rather stay home, curl up on the couch, and watch Harry Potter than go to a dance.”
“But you’re going to ask her to go.”
It came out more as an absolution rather than a question because he was right. Of course I was still going to ask her. 9 nights out of 10 Charity wanted nothing to do with the outside world. But when the mood strikes so does she.
Just then the front door opened again. “Hey mom.” I yelled.
“In here honey.” Dad yelled.
Mom walked in and kissed dad on the cheek and then me.
“How are my two favorite men?”
“Woodward and Bernstein are long dead, mom.”
“Hush child. Have you eaten?”
I held up the two crusts from the finished slices.
“I haven’t, and I’m famished.” Dad said.
“I’ll whip something up, hun. You still hungry, Chase?”
“For knowledge.” I said.
“Speaking of, how was school?”
“Delightful as always. The invitations for the gala arrived.”
“I know dear, how else did they end up on the kitchen table? I assume you’re taking Charity.”
“You assume correct.”
“How long have you been dating her- six months?”
“I’ll be a year next month.”
“Remember when you and I started dating, honey?” Dad said to mom and then proceeded to get up and sashay into the kitchen in a sort of tango step routine. “How could I forget?” She said and the two of them shared a laugh followed by kisses.
“And that’s my cue to leave.” I said as I got up and headed for my room.
My room was decorated with several trophies from middle school and high school along with a few academic awards taped to the wall alongside posters of various bands I had gotten into via Charity’s influence.
Taking off my shoes, I then flopped onto my bed while turning my radio on with a remote on the nightstand next to the bed. When nothing of interest came on I switched it to the CD option and Memphis May Fire began playing.
I looked about the room. Everything in it told the story of a typical teenager with so much going for him. Had I not been adopted this room would not be mine. A girl could be living here with similar posters on her wall but of boy bands or a collage of her favorite celebrities. Or maybe it could be someone’s office, or a writing room. New York is filled with writers. But no, I live here. It’s my own little space. My sanctuary.
I took a deep breath. Had I not been rescued from…rescued? Can I use that word to describe the situation I was in? I think so. Very well, had I not been rescued what kind of person would I be at this current age? Would I still be alive? I was lucky to be when the cops found me, I had been so malnourished. It makes me angry how, given all I had endured, I’ve yet to decide what to do with the rest of my life.
What am I passionate about? What do I see myself doing when I’m in my forties and settled down with a family? I need to make a choice. I owe it to my parents. And myself.