“What do you mean ‘no’?”
“I mean that it isn’t worth it. Spending that much money isn’t worth it.”
“How come when it’s something you both need, spending money is worth it? Whenever I need something is when the money is too much.”
“Stop talking to your mother like that.”
“Okay then, I’ll just shut up. That’s what is best for everyone, isn’t it?”
Mom slaps me.
My cheek is throbbing with pain, and I’m pretty sure it left a mark.
But that isn’t going to stop me.
“Whenever Madilyn needs something, the entire world will go to any length to help her. But when I need anything, it’s like I’ve committed a crime by asking for it.”
“Don’t over-exaggerate, Mackenzie.”
“What? It’s true.”
“Stop it Kenzie, you’re going too far.”
“Shut up Madilyn! I don’t need your saint advice right now.”
“That’s it, Mackenzie. You are grounded for two weeks.”
A bitter laugh escapes my lips.
“Like I’m allowed to go out otherwise.”
I go to my room and bang the door shut with the loudest sound possible, making sure that my wonderful family gets the hint and leaves me alone.
“Stop this drama and start acting like an adult for once.”
“Oh, like you? I’m sorry but it is nearly impossible to live up to you.”
“I’m not asking you to be me, I’m asking you to grow up.”
“Sorry, not possible. Definitely not possible when everything I do is analyzed so much that I’m afraid to do it at all.”
“I’ve gone through teenage troubles too, but you’re taking it a few notches higher than you need to.”
“No one in this house understands me.”
“No one even tries.”
I’m going to university today.
As we stuff my bags in the trunk of the car, my mother is listing off things that I should have taken, while I confirm whether I have packed them.
“Now, I know you will feel like drinking and going to parties and clubs, but whatever you do, be careful.”
“And don’t waste money on things you don’t need.”
“And don’t fall into peer pressure and do everything your friends ask you to do just to look ‘cool’”, my mother says, putting air quotes around the word ‘cool’.
I smile fondly at her, and she looks at me in confusion.
“Who’s going to take care of me on the other side of the country?”
I hug my parents, discreetly drying off the moisture that has appeared in my eyes.
When I pull away, they’re crying too.
Embracing Madilyn, I promise to call them as soon as I reach the dorm.
I get in the car and wave at them until they are just specks in the horizon.
“Okay, are you sure you want to do this?”
“Yeah, I’m sure,” I say, lying through my teeth.
“No going back now.”
I set the phone so that both of us are visible, and I call my parents.
The sound of their voices excites me and terrifies me.
I don’t need to be a genius to know how they would react.
They are my parents after all.
Maybe I should hang up.
I move my hand towards the cancel button, but she pulls it back.
“No, Kenzie. We have to do this.”
I nod, my knee bobbing up and down with jitters.
“Mom, Dad, I – we have to tell you something.”
Mom shushes Dad and Madilyn and looks at us in anticipation.
“Jocelyn and I – we’re – well –”
Mine and Jocelyn’s mouths open in shock.
“How did you – who – how did you know?”
“We are your parents, and we’re not as dumb as you seem to think.”
“But why didn’t you say anything then?”
“We wanted to hear it from you.”
Are they actually serious?
My parents – MY PARENTS – are okay with me dating a girl?
“So you guys are okay with it?”
“Does she make you happy? Does she make you feel all warm on the inside?”
I blush without meaning to and squeeze Jocelyn’s arm.
“Yeah,” I say, looking at Jocelyn, “she does.”
“Then we’re more than okay with it. We just wish we had found out from you.”
“How did you find out?”
“When we came to your university to pick you up for your winter break, we saw you two kissing on the terrace.”
“We wanted to ask you, but you would have probably gotten all mad about us butting in your love life, so we kept quiet.”
I would have gotten so mad if they’d confronted me about it.
I would have probably accused them of stalking me.
“Well, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you guys sooner. I just didn’t think you would accept it.”
“It’s quite incredible to see how highly you think about us.”
“No, no, I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just that we haven’t had the best relationship over the years.”
“Maybe we can change that now.”
I genuinely smile at my family for the first time.
“Yeah, maybe we can.”
It’s a few days before Thanksgiving, and my parents are going absolutely crazy with preparation.
Madilyn went out to get food items, because she wasn’t being helpful, and Mom was getting tired of just seeing her lazing around on the sofa the entire day.
My family made a point to not bother me because I had worries of my own.
Jocelyn was coming over for Thanksgiving.
Everything had to be just perfect.
I spent hours on the phone talking to her, trying to get some insight on her family’s traditions and the things they usually did, so that she would feel at home.
Now she’s on her way here.
I can’t wait.
The doorbell rings exactly when I’m about to lose my patience, and I run to the door like a little child getting excited about the ice cream man’s arrival.
“I’ll open it,” I yell, knowing that my parents probably wouldn’t have opened it anyway.
I open the door, and the cold wind hits me, and suddenly I’m warm again.
I put my arms around Jocelyn and hold her close.
“I’m thankful for my family, for being able to have this gathering and for the latest addition to our family, Jocelyn. I’m thankful to Jocelyn for making my daughter happy, and for loving her.”
I get emotional at Dad’s words, and suddenly it’s my turn.
“I’m thankful for everyone at this table and I’m thankful that we’ve finally put aside our differences and learnt to love each other.”
“I’m thankful for having the best family in the whole universe.”