Archive for October, 2011
Driving to the racetrack was not difficult. There was a main street in Pilkington that wove through the large park and along the beach until reaching the modest downtown area where the racetrack was built one hundred years ago. Ala had been there once for a family reunion but otherwise, preferred to stay out of the area. The track had seen better days and now took on a shabby old timey mystique that people found to be charming, but she found to be too touristy, like a western ghost town in an amusement park.
She parked as close as she could, which was a healthy distance away and walked quickly. The main entrance opened up to the bandstand. A small wrinkly man wearing a white top hat was licking his thumb in order to pull a ticket off from the pad in his hand.
“Hello, I’m here for a party,” Ala said.
“A private party Ms.?”She nodded. “You have to go around to the promenade and give your name.” His shaky finger pointed to a bridge that seemed to be a mile away.
“Thank you,” Ala said.
Walking through the main area she could smell the popcorn, laced with rich yellow buttery chemicals, and was tempted to stop for a bag and a Hurricane. But she was already late. She reached the Promenade, gave her name and was directed upstairs. She began to climb and realized that her mother was always from car to building and the reverse and probably never walked to anywhere of distance in these shoes. She could already feel a blister burrowing in her right heel.
She pulled gently and some lightweight pieces came down to eye level. The feel of them shocked her slightly, as the material seemed to be some kind of sheer poly blend. The strap was a sort of garter belt, which matched the thong, and bra she held before her. The pieces were light pink with a burgundy faux velvet trim.
Ala had never seen this kind of lingerie in person. It looked like it should be accompanied by a cowboy hat and belly button ring. It felt so flimsy and cheap. This was not something her mother would ever wear under her clothes. What was stranger was that the tag indicated a size one and Ala’s mother was always a healthy size five. Before thoughts of her parent’s engaging in foreplay could seep into her conscious mind, Ala realized how terrible it was to be snooping in her mother’s closet, as if she was seven years old. She had lived away, had slept with a man, and had no right to judge her mother or what she kept in her closet.
Her mother’s closet had always been a great wonder. It was packed with caftans from traveling, slinky gowns from the seventies, tennis dresses, wool sweaters for horseback riding; all perfectly arranged, as if on exhibit.
Ala crouched on the woven ivory rug and selected some robin’s egg blue open toed pumps, which she slipped on with ease. She and her mother had identical feet. She felt the back of the shoes to make sure her Achilles’ would have enough support and a bright pink strap, dangling between the rows, caught her eye. Standing up and ripping through the rack would guarantee she would not be able to find the garment the strap belonged to. Instead she pulled on in slightly, using her other hand to find to the base.
At dusk, she slipped into a strappy sundress and let her hair lay in waves across her shoulders. She could not find her agave sling backs and now was running late because she procrastinated so much in the afternoon. She walked down the long hallway that smelled of the gardenias her mother put out on the side tables in low bowls, and into her parent’s suite.
The suite was north facing and dark by this time of day. Luckily Ala could blindly maneuver around the room because she knew the exact placement of the bed, armoire, dressing table, desk, fainting sofa and bathroom door. She crept to the back corner of the room and opened the creaky-hinged door to her mother’s closet.
Rows of shoes, coordinated by color, sat on custom built racks across the length of the walk-in. Dozens of hangers gleamed in the light from the sconces she switched on. She ran her hand along the silk scarves on the right and the inherited fur pieces on the right.
Her cell phone rang and UNKNOWN flashed three times on the shiny screen. She decided to not pick up, especially after her weird encounter at the library. Instead, she took the top three boxes from the large stack in her bedroom and began unpacking.
She pulled out several crumbled suits she bought before leaving for Boston, mainly for job interviews. She took put balled up panties and camisoles and arranged them neatly in her top drawer. She took out potpourri sachets that had no fragrance anymore, but reminded her of her mother.
She loved leaving so much behind at her parent’s house. Boxes of essays written in high school, the porcelain tea set her great grandmother gave her, clothes from college she was sure she’d wear again. All of it gave her headache upon sight. All of it bringing up memories she wished she didn’t have, peppered with some sweet moments from being an inexperienced child.
She wished for a flood sometimes. She would love for waves to whip through the house and carry off all of the junk she couldn’t let go of, but did not want to make a place for in her new life.
She toweled off and laid face first on the bed trying to push the party out of her mind. It was for Dora, Andrew’s girlfriend. Andrew and Ala dated years back for a handful of months and they had remained close. It was easier to remain close at the time rather than rip their connection to shreds with innocent bystanders, mainly mutual friends around. She enjoyed hearing him talk about old maps and antique beer steins; he was an archivist at the cultural center. And she didn’t mind Dora, but found their friends very dull and hadn’t the interest to even meet all of them. Their parties were always the same. She saw all the same faces and did not want to say a word to any of them.
She had to attend this party to let everyone know she was not cracking up. Her abrupt move from Boston had some people talking and she wanted to make sure her perceived reputation was still in tact.
Feeling the tightening of her skin, she feared burning and quickly got up and brushed all of the sand she could off of her legs. She walked back to the house and, noticing neither car was in the driveway, had great anticipation for the hot bath she would soak in uninterrupted.
She peeled off her striped halter-top and denim shorts and tiptoed naked to her bathroom, forgetting to close the blinds. The old claw foot tub rattled whenever she turned the faucet to high heat. She sprinkled lavender bath salts, a gift from Jase’s mother, into the water and watched the pleasant murkiness ripple to the bottom of the tub. She climbed in slowly, mindful of her shin, still sore from a recent biking trip where her wheel skidded over a sharp stone.
The phone rang and she decided to let her parent’s ancient answering machine take the call. She closed her eyes and thought of how it was as if she had never left at all. Everything was the same. The house, minus a few new throw pillows, her friend Sissy sounded the same, her daybed still the same aluminum under chipped white paint.
Lucky for her she had not brought a lot to Boston to have to bring back. Three suitcases, a briefcase and a shoulder bag were it. She knew Jase did not have a lot of room, a closet to herself being out of the question.