You would think that someone with a name like Adelaide, meaning noble kind, would be a strong, powerful, regal person. However, I was named after the Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, as a result of my mother's slight obsession with the movie, Broadway musical and all of its later revivals.
When I fly back to our small-town home in Connecticut, memories that I tried to forget flood my mind. Pictures of being isolated, being made fun of, and, most common, being a klutz. My parents are eccentric, eye rollingly so, and my perfect, blonde, thin sister Ollie has the man of her dreams, a beautiful daughter, and a Victorian house three miles away from my parents.
I live in a New York Flat, on 42nd street and Broadway, with throw blankets, a ridiculous shoe collection, and a lot of frozen TV dinners. I'm the "one who ran away". Everyone in my family has this picturesque, small town life with their perfect families and perfect houses and little Jimmy's neighborhood soccer team every Wednesday in the backyard. I don't want to be an SUV-driving soccer mom- I never did- so I escaped. I broke the chain of perfect Wellerstein's- moved to the big city to pursue Broadway dreams and ditch the suburban life.
I only really see my family on holidays, and awkwardness always ensues. I knock once so they know I've arrived and then let myself in, kicking snow-and my attitude towards my family- off on the welcome mat.
"Mom? Dad? I'm here…"
"Addie! Kitchen!" My sister's voice can be heard, light and airy, above the hum of the electric mixer my mother uses to make desserts. When I walk in, I plaster a fake movie star smile on my face and make the rounds, hugging and greeting my family members who, most of the time, I insist I'm not related to.
My mom, Ollie, and Ollie's ten year old daughter Sydney are at the counter, mixing brownie batter and spooning it into the baking pan with a pink spatula from Williams Sonoma. I'm frightened at the perfect family picture.
"Where's dad?" I ask, dipping my finger in the batter and receiving a glare from my mother.
"He and Matt headed out to the garage to look at Dad's new antique boat. Matt wants to help him fix it up for sailing."
"Great." I head out on that note. Honestly, I feel much more comfortable talking to my dad and brother in law, because talking to the woman in my family makes me feel like a piece of meat.
"You know, Addie, you could lose a few pounds…"
"Maybe you should dye your hair darker so it won't stick out. A nice…brown?"
I open the garage door, shouting of the sounds of a saw.
"Dad!" He unplugs it when he sees me and rushes to engulf me in a hug.
"Addiebug!" He kisses the top of my head and suddenly the tightness in my chest fades away. My dad doesn't make me feel uncomfortable. I always was isolated as a child, mostly because I glasses and braces and a lisp and horrifying sunset-colored hair, but my dad would lead me away from the playground where I was ridiculed after school and we'd drop Ollie off at her friend's house while we went to Dairy Queen, every Friday until I was fourteen.
"I just need to finish this one thing, and then we'll be in. Could you let your mom know?"
I sigh, wave a greeting to Matt, and head back in the kitchen.
"Hey mom? Dad says he'll be in in a minute."
There's an awkward pause, until finally my mother decides to speak a full sentence.
"So, how's it going with that man you were with…David?"
"Alex, mom, and…it isn't. We broke up a month ago."
"Oh, well. We saw that one coming, didn't we?"
She doesn't even look at me. Instead, she scrubs the mixing bowl harder with her brillo pad.
"What's that supposed to mean?" I ask, the anger and resentment I usually feel for her finally coming out.
"Well, Addie, none of your relationships ever turn out very well. I've learned not to take them seriously anymore."
When I don't respond, she turns around and scowls at me. "Oh, Addie, you really thought it would last? You were dating a light manager at the Marriot theater, for goodness sakes. He isn't exactly your type…"
How would she know my type? Sometimes, I think she's not really my mother.
"I'm going to talk to dad." I say, and storm back in the garage. There, he's putting away his tools, handing them to Matt one by one.
He turns around.
"Can we go to dairy queen?"
He smiles, grabs his coat and keys, and leads me to the car.