Just BE YOU

Rita decided to wait. She headed to the kitchen to create some dinner for them, it gave her time to feel into all the racing emotions. They seemed to zoom from all directions. “What had the magazine and Francine discussed? How was Francine feeling, worried that she would figure it out. Confused by the experience, just as she often felt? Maybe this would bond them closer together? Should they share it with Frank or not?” Then there was the deep exploration of her own personal life. The art supplies were now out, what now? How does she even begin to open back up that part of herself?” Her brain, heart and soul were whirling out of control.

Meanwhile Francine sat quietly in her bedroom. Caught between the worry of her mom being mad at her for looking at the magazine, to confusion about what had happened with the publication. “Was it real? She couldn’t tell any of her friends, for they would laugh and say she was crazy. Should she tell her mom, so that they could at least talk about it? Knowing about the magazine helped her to understand the difference she had noticed in her mom. She had seemed distracted and was very quiet. Now all the art stuff, wow, she never knew her mom was that talented or passionate about art. Then there was the big conversation they just had about following your dreams, being true to yourself…. That made her even more lost and confused, for she had no idea what she was passionate about, she had never thought about her dreams, she just did what everyone around her did, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?”

She began to replay the conversation she had with the magazine. “Why did she pretend to always be happy, especially at school?” A sense of sadness seeped into her body, “Did she have any true friends that she could be real with?” Bringing her friends into visual perspective in her mind she thought about each one, quickly going through them, sadness bubbled up, for when she was done, there was only one friend she could think of that actually felt safe, Jennifer. 

Jennifer played on the basketball team with her, they had become close last year, for Jennifer moved to Seattle with her parents two years ago. Jennifer was Francine’s only African American friend, she wished she had more diverse friends, but, they all seemed to have their own clicks. Jennifer was not a part of that group because she was too new to the school and so far did not seem to want to be friends with those girls. Francine wondered if part of the reason she did not fit in with that group was because she was adopted and her parents were white. Jennifer seemed real, she didn’t seem to care what others thought of her, she didn’t like school and was just doing what she had to do to get to college. Unlike most of Francine’s friends, Jennifer knew what she wanted to be when she grew up, a veterinarian. She told Francine once that school was a waste of time, that most of what they studied didn’t make any difference for living in the real world.

Francine thought about that, “what did she think of school?” It was okay, thankfully she did not have to work too hard to get good grades, school came easy for her. Thinking about her different classes, she could see and understand how Jennifer was right. How did studying history and math help her in the real world? Unlike Jennifer, Francine had no clue what she wanted to “do when she grew up.” She hated that question, “What do you want to do when you graduate from High School?” How in the hell was she supposed to know. 

The only things she really loved at school were basketball and choir. She was not good enough at basketball to go anywhere with that, she wouldn’t even qualify for a college scholarship, Jennifer would, she was really good. As she thought about choir, her heart smiled. She loved to sing. Singing was just a part of who she was. Secretly, she had always wanted to learn to play the piano and truly learn to dance. Yes, the magazine had reminded her of her love for dancing and singing. Because she went back and forth between her mom and dad’s house, she had never asked about taking piano lessons or going to dance classes. How could she ever be good enough to make a living doing either of those anyway?

“Dinners ready” beckoned her mom.

Oh boy, time to sit at the table with her mom and brother pretending that nothing had happened. This made Francine laugh, pretending, yep, that’s what she told the magazine she always did. Maybe tonight, she could start practicing being real, after all, it was just her family. 

“It was strangely quiet at the table tonight,’ thought Frank. Finally his mom broke the silence, “How was your day,” she asked them both. 

“Mine was good,” replied Frank. “I played video games with Ollie and Joe. Joe wondered if I can come over tomorrow, we need to rehearse for the play.”

“It’s totally fine with me,” his mom replied. “What time do you think you’ll be home, so I can plan accordingly,” she asked. 

“What time do you need me home,” he asked. 

“By 6:00pm would be great, you know me, I don’t like to eat too late on a school, work, night,” she replied.

“Okay,” he agreed, while putting a bite of food into his mouth.

“What did you do today Francine,” asked Rita.

“I listened to music in my room and watched some videos. I was going to go to the mall with friends, but, we couldn’t agree on time,” responded Francine, who felt like her mom could see right through the lies. 

“How could she bring up at the dinner table that she had been communicating all afternoon with her mom’s magazine that she had taken from her room,” justified Francine to herself.

Rita could tell that her daughter was processing deeper thoughts. Normally the two of them would be picking on each other, filling the space with banter intermixed with laughter. Often it was inside jokes about some YouTuber, Tic Toc personality or a show that she knew nothing about. Now, was not the time to question her daughter, besides she wasn’t even sure how to start the discussion. 

To be continued… 10

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