There was no backyard, no fence, no shrubbery. There were no brownie moms and dads sitting front row with a bouquet of flowers for their little girls 6th grade play. Even if she was Becky. Manhattan fathers don’t fly in from London business trips for Tom Sawyer. And us, little Manhattan girls, were used to hugging the baby sister afterwards; letting the second mom from Barbados hold onto the empty spaces, little cuts on the inside that would eventually transform into an image of empty chairs. They knew before we did; there was nothing much to do except whisper down, “they love you, they really love you” before we were old enough to shove out of thick black arms and attack our own fate.
In High School I lounged on my rooftop in the financial district at four am because the city was more home than my bedroom. The view looking down into a glittery abyss, more familiar and more beautiful than any lover i’d posses. It made me wild for booze and bloody noses and arched backs across the bathroom floor of some bar or restaurant. I was wild for every sprawled gaudy block, every gritty ally. Every dollar bill left on the kitchen counter because they’re gone again. And this is how they loved me. The other girls said we were the dying quiet but attempted suicide at cocktail parties, calling down “Catch me darlings” to the concrete below. All pale calves and drunk purple designer pumps. We always said, grown up in the stars and dead in the street. We said screw counting sheep and delayed every inch of morning.
But then it was morning. I arrived in Charleston, SC bags packed to the brim with madness. I tripped on bricked streets and wandered through crumbling houses and ancient cemeteries. For a moment I believed in the sunshine. I met a boy who made lots of promises. I didn’t want to believe him. But he was convincing and i was naiive. So i went and got my heart broken. And i woke up to start my junior year in Charleston, i woke up a fresh set of rules and an old set of scars. I let myself miss NY every day and find the good parts of Charleston heal me, slowly. And in the good parts, i call them my “angels”; the people that inspire me and teach me about another kind of love. The early wounds stay visible but soften in the holy city.