The Great and Grand Wedding Esquema

I’ve just spent the past half an hour staring up at the glow in the dark star stickers on my ceiling that haven’t really worked since 2002. They are covered in a thin veil of dust and frown down at me pathetically.

I’ve been staring at them because i’m currently stuck in that weird place. The one where I yearn for deep dreams but sleep is elusively slipping just out of my grasp like smoke, where i’m too anxious and too crammed with thoughts to rest but am also too lazy to get out of my warm, home-smelling bed. There’s nothing left to do in this state but look at any mundane thing that catches the eye, and yawn, blink and turn on my side, trying to find the most comfortable way to do nothing.

You have to get up. It’s a big day. My good, honorable voice tells me. I picture this voice with the slight glow of a halo and some pretty, feathery wings holding a batch of fresh baked cookies.

Hell no. My bad, dishonorable voice counters. She crouches over and snarls at the good side, her crimson horns pulsing.

I’m struggling to decide which one to heed when motivation makes me clamor out of bed, dissolving devil-me. The phone rings briskly, almost cheerfully and I wipe the nasty sleep from my eyes. Now that i’m really up, I have to start preparing for today. I hear log-sawing snores from my mother’s bedroom and grimace. I pick up the phone.

“Hello?”

“Lina?” The voice on the other line is very soft, like a stage whisper and I immediately I recognize it. I relax, but only a little. I’m going to be on my toes all day. “Hi it’s-”

“Meredith.” I finish. “What’s up?”

“Are you almost ready?”

I laugh. “I just got up. We don’t have to be at the church until twelve.”

I hear her nervousness, can almost touch it. “Yes. Of course. I’m just so worried.”

“I don’t blame you.”

In the next room, I hear my mother’s growls ring true. She lets out a stream of profanity that must be dirtying up the walls. Her alarm must have gone off, and she’s no doubt trying to decapitate it.

“Your mom’s up” Meredith’s tone brightens on the other line. “Well, I’ll call back real soon okay?”

“Okay Meredith.”

“Bye.”

Quietly, she hangs up and I follow suit, twirl the phone around in my hands. It was all Meredith’s idea, this master plan and only I seem to think it will fail. I think she and my mom and my dad are the real teenagers here, and I’m the fretting mother. Wringing my hands, I walk to the bathroom, flick on the dingy light and turn on the shower. I watch the little crystaline droplets of water soar down from the showerhead, temperatures, moods, changing. I strip out of my Pajamas and let the man-controlled rain wash away my worries. Washing them down the drain.

****

It started with a phonecall.

“Lina can you get that?” My mother had called from the living room and I reached for the phone.

“Is this the home of Charlotte Kensington?” Said a curt, elderly voice before I had barely uttered a hello. The voice was sharply chiseled to a point and sounded like bingo nights, fireplaces and knitting needles. It belonged to a woman.

“Charlotte…are you looking for Lottie Kens?” I asked politely, though my stomach shied away from the severe voice.

There was a huff of anger. “What is she calling herself these days?” Then “Whom may I ask is speaking?”

“Um, her daughter. Lina Rodriguez.”

The silence was the single loudest thing i’ve ever heard. It flaunted itself blatantly for about two full minutes. Then I heard the distraught, shaky voice say “John…take it. Take the telephone.”

A man across the line said wearily, “Muffy, what’s wrong?” and I heard “Take it!” and then the man, John, answered loudly.

“Who’s speaking?” He said to me while I picked at a fingernail.

What’s going on? I wondered, the question bouncing through my mind. “Lina Rodriguez, my mother is Lottie Kens. Who is this?”

Another pause, then, “Is this a joke?”

Still picking at my nail I said defensively, “No.”

“Well, I suppose i’ll call back later, after my wife and I have…had some time to digest this…information. Just…tell you mother” and his voice iced over like hot chocolate in Antarctica. “That her parents are very, very upset with her.”

At this point, I dropped the phone on my foot and cried out in pain. Furiously, I hung up, rubbing my bruised toe until the redness went away, shock leaving an eraser mark on me.

The color left my mother’s face when I delivered the message. Her face turned milky as a white peacock’s feathers. She swayed alarmingly and gripped a kitchen chair for support. She seemed to turn transparent as rice paper, clutching her stomach like she was going to be sick. “Fuck. Fuck it. Oh no. Oh no, no, no.”

I stared at her blankly. “You hardly ever talk about your parents. Never, actually. Never.”

She ignored me. “Oh they did not…they did not fucking…”

Yes they did. I swallowed. “Ma, they’re gonna call again.”

She looked like she was considering smashing the phone on the floor. This was a woman who had stood up to three meaty bouncers, all of whom were about three feet taller than her. Who had once slammed her fist into a man who’d had tried to grab her purse, and left him reeling. A woman who had always held her ground like her one purpose was to cling to the earth. I had never seen her look so frightened. Frightened of two shriveled-sounding old folks.

“Lina…Lina…oh shit. They’re gonna…shit.” Her hands shook, two vibrating cell phones.

“Mom?” I looked at her with concern. “Calm down, okay?”

She looked at me as though I’d just told her to cut a slice of the moon and eat it with butter.

“We are not answering the phone anymore.” She declared, taking it off the cradle. I followed her as she stormed into the kitchen, opened up the wooden cabinet that housed the the spices and tucked our phone safely behind the bay leaves and the cinnamon.

“What if it’s an emergency?”

She looked at me with fearsome eyes. “We. Are not. Answering. The phone.”

I nodded quickly.

The ringing proved unbearable. The briiinnnggg was constant and caused multiple headaches. But my mother refused to budge. I had no idea how her parents could evoke such fear in her. I knew very little about her childhood. I’d never met her parents.

I did know that my mother grew up in a strictly apple-pie home. Very stereotypical American, in rural West Virginia. She was born to a Wasp’s nest, with parents who were the definition of good old fashioned conservativeness.

She hated it. As soon as she turned eighteen, she put as much distance between her and Virginia as possible and escaped to New York. The city was her true love. She danced with the light of it, the culture, the diversity, the chaos. She made it her playground and spent all night, flying down the slides, running on the pavement, hanging from the monkey bars, pushing the tire swings. She entered community college, got a waitressing job, got fired after flipping off a customer, got another waitressing job, changed her waspy name and through all of it, found time to find music and start her band. Her band, her music, her passion, melted into her life and clung to it. It became the biggest piece of her. Later on, it would grow up and earn a record deal, plenty of gigs and attract a small but devoted fan base. But at that point, in was just a twinkling infant of a dream, her first baby. It consisted of my mother’s college roommate Tilly on the drums, our old neighbors Dean and his live-in boyfriend Garret on electric guitar and base respectively and Meredith, who sang with her. I’m sure my mother thought she was the shit at nineteen, living on overcooked ramen noodles in a run down apartment in New York City, going to school by day and screaming out her own punk lyrics to sleazy clubs by night. You’d think she’d have grown out of her band, Plutonium when she got older, but she stuck with it like glue. Meredith had gone on to become a librarian at the public library and Garret could only play shows that didn’t interfere with his teaching, but the others stood by Plutonium.

Then came my father, the exact opposite of the man her own parents would have chosen for her. It wasn’t just that he was Puerto Rican, although the idea that my grandparents would dislike him for that left a nasty taste in my mouth. He was a “rebel” to hear my mother tell it, and completely right for her in this aspect. Right now, ten and eleven year olds walk around with pierced noses and blue hair, but back then it was dangerously attractive. My father, clad in his scarlet dragon tattoos and home dyed locks, and spectacular home-cooked meals that were heavily flavored in the traditions of San Juan, intruiged her. They dated for one, happy, year. With him coming to every show she played and her working hard, trying to get his books published. They supported each other. Leaned on each other.

And yet, once I asked my mother if she had ever been in true love. She was giving me a haircut as I sat on a stool in the tub, watching chunks of my dark hair fall and reading Jane Eyre. I was caught up in the dark, mysterious world of old England and the intensity of Jane and Rochester’s love and yearned to know if it was a real, tangible thing

My mother though for a moment. “I love you Lina. And I love my friends.”

“But what about true love? Romantic love? Like in Bronte novels?” I looked at the dead strands on the floor. “What about Daddy?”

My mother snipped another mahogany curl. I knew she was trying to be truthful. “I loved your father…but not like the characters in your book, Lina. Your father and I were always very comfortable, always happy. He was one of my best friends, but he was more. I can’t really describe the way I felt about him accurately. It wasn’t that we were fooling around, or anything. It was like a little crush and a large friendship magnified ten times. I loved him similar to the way I love you Lina. But our story wasn’t a fairytale. We weren’t really going anywhere, we were walking in place. I could see then that your father wasn’t going to marry me, and that was fine because I wouldn’t have said yes. No, i’m holding out for real love.”

I kept quiet until the end of her musings. “But you guys had me.”

At this she looked me in the eyes. Hers were blue and sharp and piercing, unlike my own, which mimicked my father’s soft brown shade. “Lina, you may not be the product of marriage, but you are absolutely a product of love. Do you hear me? Me and your father may not be traditional parents but that doesn’t mean we love you any less.”

I nodded, wanting to slip back into Jane Eyre but her hands caught my chin and forced me to look back at her. “You hear honey?” She asked.

I said “Yes.” And never really doubted it from that moment on.

My mother and father broke up a few weeks before my mother realized she was pregnant. They ended on friendly terms, no mess, no drama, because there hadn’t been any reason to be heartbroken. They stayed close friends. The pregnancy complicated things of course. My dad offered to move in with her, even proposed, but my mother turn him down, just like she had promised. She’d rather be talked about, rather have to deal with some obstacles, then lock herself into a loveless marriage, she told me later. My dad was relieved, I think, not to have to force himself to love her. They worked through the complications as a team, but a team of friends. My mom liked to joke they were Ross and Rachel from Friends, for they too had had a baby while staying buddies. Except Ross and Rachel were fictional, and also, they had a dramatic tale of betrayal and passion and sitcom leading up to the birth of their daughter. I’ve been going back and fourth between my mother and father’s house since I was a tiny, premature thing. We are not the average family, but we work.

And the way we work, the click, the fit of our puzzle pieces make us just as happy as any other.

* * * *

After I pull my wet hair into a towel turban, I wrap myself in bathrobe and march towards the kitchen. As I make my way, I peek into my mother’s bedroom and see her slumped over on her bed. She’s in a sitting position but is clearly asleep. Like she dozed off in the midst of struggling to get up. I’ll let her sleep for a while longer. After all, today is what idiotic, commercial Hollywood calls “the greatest day of every girl’s life.” I’ve always wondered why it couldn’t also be the greatest day of every guy’s life. Or at least, the greatest day of every couple’s life. I can’t comprehend why a wedding has to constitute such female euphoria, when so many marriages ended in failure. Furthermore, couldn’t the greatest day of a girl’s life be the day she earns her PHD? The day she overcomes her phobia of heights? The day she opens her company? Plays a kickass concert? Wins the United Sates Presidential election? Does perfection have to include a fluffy white dress and equally sweet cake?

I get the bacon and eggs out of the fridge and turn on the stove. After cracking the delicate shells and watching the slippery contents that resemble little suns begin to fry and sizzle on the pan, I take the bacon and do the same. Then I wait for breakfast.

“Lina?” I hear my mother stomp across the floor. She is one of those people that have naturally loud footsteps. “You awake honey?”

“Yes mom.”

She stands in the doorway of the kitchen now. Her icy eyes are slightly muted by sleepiness and her straight, cornsilk hair is tangled. She’s small in size but everything else, her walk, the volume of her voice, her temper, her glare, gives her all the the impression, edge and intimidation of an ultimate fighting champion. And not the little wrestlers that wear capes or the attractive women who claw each other in bikinis. The ones whose fists are approximately the size of my head and who can pull out teeth with a little twist. That’s my mom.

“Bacon?” She sniffs the air hopefully.

“Yep.” I flip the long slabs of crackling meat in their pan. Soon, breakfast is ready and I scoop the eggs and bacon onto a plate. Mom does the same and we pull stools from the counter at the same time. The bacon is perfectly greasy, a mix of salty sweet and the exact texture I like, slightly crispy, slightly chewy. I pepper my eggs and start to sever the golden orb of yolk. It comes out in a river, dousing my bacon. Mom tucks into her food hastily. She holds down her stress by burying it in an avalanche of breakfast. I don’t blame her. My stress is shown through the bitten, jagged edges of my fingernails.

“Meredith called.” I tell her.

She stops chewing for a second. “What’d she say?”

“Nothing. She’s just nervous.”

Mom nods and looks out the window behind me. You can see the gray and burgundy bricks, the building giants of New York City from where we sit.

I try what I’ve pushing for ever since my parents hatched the plan. “You don’t have to do this.”

She shakes her head instinctually. “They’ll never leave us alone. This will finally get them off my back.”

“There are better, less crazy ways.” I say quietly.

She flashes me a look. “I’ve spent thirty-six years of my life dealing with them in my own little ways. I’m an expert now. And this is too brilliant an idea to give up. Meredith’s a genius. They won’t figure it out.” She allows herself a little grin now “They may be intimidating, but they aren’t clever. Not like me.” She licks her fork in self-satisfaction and drops it onto a mostly empty plate.

“But mom!” I protest, desperation leaking into my voice.

She pats my shoulder with a slow, simple smile as if comforting a two year old. “Don’t worry so much, Lina. Leave that to the adults.”

My lips twist into a scowl. “Go get ready”

I watch her leave the kitchen and put my head in my hands. Already, there’s a small tapping in my forehead that more irritates than hurts. Shaking my head, I follow her.

An hour passes. I brush my hair and slip into a silky, scarlet dress. Mom comes out in a robin’s egg number that compliments her eyes. We take the subway down to the church, a lovely, intimate room in Spanish Harlem. We wait a moment before entering the building, Mom pauses to take a breath.

And then we’re there, ready to get married.

Once I was watching some blockbuster Hollywood film that had faded into obscurity. It was playing on TV late one night and Mom came in to watch with me. In the blue soft light from the screen, I could see her start to raise her eyebrows at the mediocre thriller plot. We cringed as the disturbed ex-wife began her quest to “get rid of” the other woman, another not very pretty blonde who everyone knew.

Halfway through it, my mother paused it to tell me, “This is bullshit. People who think jealousy is an essential nature to every ex-girlfriend have never met me and Meredith.”

Mom and Meredith. An explosive duo, but explosive in the best way possible. The way gun powder has the potential to become a tragic weapon or spirited, colorful fireworks. They were fireworks.

Together, they started Plutonium, and since their first show, they’d been inseperable. They were Siamese twins, joined at the hip, two completely different girls who happened to sing in the same Punk band. While my mom was tempestuous, feisty and blunt, Meredith was a little bit quieter and more delicate. While my mom was a burst of wild flame, Meredith was steady, strong torchlight. She cared very much about how she was perceived and how others felt, whereas my mother really couldn’t give a shit. She was tactful and thoughtful, but behind her sweet, innocent demeanor, she was just as tough as my mom, just as brilliant and loyal and just as powerful. They were an unstoppable pair. Great friends.

You may not have expected them to stay great friends after Meredith started dating my dad. It was about one or two years after I was born and she had gone through great, unnecessary lengths to secure my mother’s blessing. She didn’t need to have pained herself so over it, because my mother gave it immediately. “I had been your father’s friend, not girlfriend, for a long time and I wanted her to be happy.” My mother would tell me. “I wanted them both to be happy.”

And for as long as I can remember, they have been happy. My mom, my dad and Meredith have always been my closest family. There’s no real name for what Meredith is to me. She’s not my Aunt or my step-mother, since she and my dad aren’t married. She’s my mom’s best friend and my father’s girlfriend. And the three of them have a rather unorthodox relationship but they are what they are and what they are, is my family.

After the fated phone call and my mom’s banishment of the phone. I visited my dad for a weekend. Me, Meredith and Dad sat around the living room drinking hot chocolate with mini marshmallows, my favorite, when I brought it up.

“Mom’s been freaking out.” I said lightly.

Meredith looked up, worry and curiosity coloring her voice. “How come?”

“Her parents called.” I shrugged.

All of a sudden, hot chocolate erupted from my dad’s mouth. He sprayed the table and couch in the thick brown liquid. Hastily, he grabbed a napkin and tried to soak up the puddle of spit and cocoa, all while looking at me insanely.

“Dario!” Meredith exclaimed, half laughing.

“You look just as scared as Mom!” I said in wonder. “Why is everyone getting so worked up?”

Meredith’s eyes slid over to meet my father’s. “Mr. and Mrs. Kensington are…”

“Horrible people. Ellos son idiotas.” My Dad finished hollowly, slipping into Spanish as he sometimes did when he got angry.

“I was going to say difficult, mi amor.” Meredith said with a sad little smile, the last part aimed at Dad. “They came up to New York once, when we were in college. They snuck up on her, out of nowhere. I guess they tracked her down. And they found her performing “Love Letter to Anarchy.” I guess it’s a shock, seeing your little girl’s pretty blonde hair chopped up, her face coated in black make-up, sporting a broken heart tattoo and dropping f-bombs all over the place while a bunch of screaming hipsters and wannabes crowd around her. They tried to drag her off stage while she was singing. Can you imagine how mortified she was? Punkstar Lottie Kens gets practically grounded by her conservative parents while on stage in the middle of a set. They went back to her dorm, where they had the mother of all screaming matches. It got pretty ugly, with her mother accusing her of disgracing her family, her father threatening to take her back to Virginia-”

“Her father said he’d kill me.” Dad spat bitterly.

“What?” I looked at him in shock.”

“I happened to walk in at the time. Lottie lost no time in introducing me as her boyfriend. They took one look at me, my hair, my piercings, the color of my skin, bah!” He snarled, glaring at the floor. “And those idiotas went insane. Her mother practically fainted. Her father started firing questions at me like I was on trial. ‘Who are you?’ ‘What do you do for a living?’ ‘Have you ever been to jail?’ ‘What are your intentions with my Charlotte?”

“Lottie won out eventually. But they swore they’d be back.” Meredith sighed, taking another sip of her chocolate. “And now they are.”

I fidgeted in my seat. “They aren’t really back. They just called once or twice or three times.”

My father shook his head. “They’ll be back.”

A week later, Dad was proved right.

There was a prim knock on the door. My mom was in her room, tuning her guitar so I got up from where I was reading Jane Eyre on the couch. I looked through the eyehole and saw a rather elderly looking couple glaring back at me. The woman’s skin was as stretched and crinkly as my attempts at origami, her chilled blue eyes, the exact replicas of my mother’s, were rimmed in thick brown glasses, and her hunched body was clothed in a lumpy beige sweater. The man beside her had powdered milk hair and wore a blue sweatshirt. His arms were crosses protectively over his chest.

I opened the door hesitantly. “Can I help you?” I asked.

The woman clucked. “May I help you, dearie. It’s May.”

“Actually, it’s February.” I retorted. “May I help you?”

The man looked inside the apartment. “Is this the home of Charlotte Kensington? Carolina Kensington?”

I shivered, instantly knowing who they were. “My mother’s name in Lottie Kens. I’m Lina Rodriguez.”

They looked me up and down in a slow manner. The woman put a hand to her heart and the man let out a little breath.

“Can we come in? He asked stiffley.

I cut my eye at the woman, who sucked in her cheeks. “Don’t you mean may you come in?”

The man hollered into the apartment. “Charlotte Bitsy Kensington!”

The tuning was severed off abruptly. Silence radiated through the house.

Five minutes later, my mother grandparents and I sat in the living room. My mother held my hand so tight, thought my bones would break. We sat on one side of the coffee table, they sat facing us on the couch.

Grandmother stared bullets into her, her words coming out in strings of disconnected beads. “How dare you…of all the absurd stunts…I thought we’d raised you right…”

“Who’s the father?” Grandfather demanded, anger filling in his face like red paint into a tube.

My mother’s grip tightened. “You met him once.”

Both gasped. “Not…that man… with the blue hair?” Grandmother looked faint.

My mother smiled fearfully. “One and the same.”

My Grandfather looked ready to erupt. “Why didn’t you tell us you were married…and to what I assume is a…nevermind. You should have told us you were married!”

“And that preposturous name! The name of Kensington is sacred! And this…man…this husband of yours, he is a Protestant, isn’t he? No daughter of mine married a Catholic.”

My mother kept quiet as a doormouse. When the squawking parents fell silent she squeaked. “We aren’t married.”

Tick tock, tick tock, the quiet was deathly uncomfortable. Then:

“Not married!” Such a tiger’s roar for such a small woman. My Grandmother stared at my mother like she was extraterrestrial. “You mean to say you had my Granddaughter out of wedlock?”

I sat through all of this, trying not to let fury bubble up to my surface. What right had these people had to judge me and my family? The blood rushed to my face. Ribbons of irritation tied up my hair.

My Grandfather stared at my mother. “You will hunt down the father. I don’t care who he is. You find him and you marry him, Charlotte Bitsy Kensington. Because if you don’t, I swear to Jesus Christ in Heaven, it will be the last you ever do.”

“We will stay here in New York, we will never let you get away. We will go to every party, every stupid show and I personally will tell every scoundrel there that my daughter is a whore-”

“Mother!” cried Mom.

“-Who allowed herself to get knocked up by some-”

“Fine!” She yelled. I watched as my mother bowed her golden head, something I’d never seen her do. “I’ll marry him.”

Surprise was a bucket of ice water on my head. My Grandfather nodded.

“But I want the ceremony done my way.” Mom mustered up the last of her battle into these words.

My Grandmother looked at me, squinting her already beady eyes. “If we took you to Virginia, we could raise you good.”

“That you could raise me well.” I snarled. “Is a lie.”

They turned there sweater-bodies away and turned to leave.

“We’re staying in the city, Charlotte.” My Grandfather assured my mother. “We’ll be hearing from you.”

“We’ll be watching.” Grandmother told her.

And then they were gone, whisked away on their broomsticks, cackling to the dark sky.

“Dario, please, you have to help me.” I heard my mother whispering late that night.

Much cursing in Spanish on the phone, then a sob from my mother, then Meredith’s sweet voice saying, “It’s okay Lottie. It’s okay. I have an idea.”

****

There are little white pews and pastel walls. Plutonium is set up in one corner, secretly shaking their heads and smiling because they’re in on the plan. A minister, little man with kind eyes and mustard colored skin welcomes us all. My Grandparents sit on one side, one wearing a pink dress and bolero jacket, topped with a ridiculous hat. The other in a tuxedo. They frown at everything.

Meredith and my Father walk up to me before the ceremony starts. “Hey mija.” My father pats my head.

Meredith winks at me nervously. “Ready for the Great and Grand Wedding Esquema?”

“Is that what we’re calling it?” I ask.

She nods and I let my feathery fingers rest. “You better get in the back of the aisle. They’re about to start.”

Mother holds a bouquet of yellow roses as the da-da-da-dum wedding march begins to play, sounding slightly distorted on the electric strings, curtousy of Dean and Garret. Behind her, Meredith follows in a creamy, ivory lace. My father stands, full of joy and mischief at the alter.

Now they’re all front and center, pulling the greatest prank of their lives. Bridesmaid, Bride and Groom.

But then the minister starts speaking the traditional words, the traditional dearly beloved speech. Except, and this is the beauty of the plot, he says them in Spanish. Spanish, what a gorgeous, blooming, rose of a language. Every single person in this pretty room understands it…except for my Grandparents.

And Spanish is the cover, the crucial secret weapon. Because, in Spanish, the minister binds two people in marriage: Meredith and Dario. My father and his girlfriend. My mother is the bridesmaid in this situation. But my Grandparents don’t know that.

“Queridos presentes, estamos reunidos aquí en los ojos de Dios para unir a este hombre y a esta mujer en Matrimonio sagrado, que es un estado honorable, instituido por Dios en el Paraíso, y en la que santo estado estas dos personas se encuentran ahora unidos.”

The words flow off his tongue. I check the faces of my Grandparents, but they don’t seem to suspect anything. For the first time in weeks, I let myself breathe.

Meredith says “Yo accepto.”

My Father says “Yo accepto.”

My Mother lets a grin the brightens the room considerably play on her face. I let out a long, lasting sigh of relief. A spell has been broken, the threat of my Grandparents diminished by the fact that, for all they know, the ceremony was for the other woman. My father looks upon his new bride with such tenderness, such love that I catch my breath. Meredith returns the look, adding hints of laughter and pinches of care into it as well. I can see their world shrink to the size of them.

And finally, I laugh. I laugh because I realize that I have everything I need and that includes my family, all of it, Dean and Garret and Tilly and Mom and Dad and Meredith. They’ll use their insanity, their refusals to grow up to protect me. To form a catapult flinging us to the top of sky that imitates mom’s eye color. And as long as we’re together, in this strangley structured family, nobody can touch us. Not evil grandparents, or beyond them, the reality of a tradition and ancient unspoken rule we break. I think back to how my Grandmother spat the word wedlock, like it was covered in a layer of grime. But the way I was raised taught me that I am supported, no matter what. My family is not broken. We are modern. We are young. And we love each other.

So the question, Do I believe we fooled my old-fashioned relatives, pulled off a crazy plot, brought Dad and Meredith together and saved the day?

The answer: I do.

Kai Williams
Age 14, Grade 8
Manhattan Country School
Silver Key

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