Cassey brought me back to my parent’s house after several hours. She had certainly held up her end of the bargain. She treated me to a celebratory drink and purchased me a delicious ice cream cake. She made a point of letting everyone in the house know that she had picked up their slack and gotten me a cake. But the family was still too fixated with other goings on to be concerned with me.
I had enough. I don’t know if it was the influx of emotions, utter exhaustion, or if I was actually thinking clearly, but I finally spoke my mind. I told my family that all I had wanted was one day. ONE DAY where I could feel special and not get critiqued or picked at. That all their unnecessary and rude comments could have been parlayed until tomorrow or truthfully kept to themselves. Had any of them bothered to tell me “congratulations” or “I’m proud of you”? No. Immediately following the ceremony it was rag-on-Sarah time. And as soon as I’d gotten home it was no better. None of this could’ve waited? And don’t get me started on how upset I was that all the pictures taken of Kendrae and me post-ceremony had been deleted because of “bad lighting.”
My speech was met with too many excuses to even remember. I figured my rhetoric would fall on unfertile soil. But, I had said my peace and now I wanted my piece. Of cake! After relishing every bite of my slice of ice cream graduation cake from Cassey, I made my way up the stairs and to my room to call it a night. What an emotional day, not at all the way I pictured it. I was beginning to learn that my mental pictures and real life never matched up. But that didn’t stop my brain from attempting.
I laid down on my bed in my room, but it didn’t feel the same. It didn’t feel like mine. The bed and room I had grown accustomed to were back in Longview. Floor three of the Davis dorm, that was my bed and my room. I felt loved and supported there; it became my home. The room I laid in now was familiar but foreign, no longer my safe haven. Like I was staying the night at a friend’s house. I knew where everything was, but I didn’t feel at home. I tossed and turned the whole night.
The next morning, I was greeted by my father sitting at the foot of my bed.
“You were right, Sarah. You were right and we’re sorry. Yesterday was your day and we really are all proud of you,” my father apologized. He went on to say how he had even teared up on the drive out to Longview before the ceremony. He assured me again that he was proud of me.
I told him thanks, but that he had nothing to apologize for. While his apology was a sweet sound to my ears, and not one that I heard often, it was not his to tell. In fact, I wasn’t upset with my father. He hadn’t said much the whole day, which was surprising as his normal remarks tended tilted towards the hypercritical. Yesterday, it was the others in the chorus that had been singing my blues. I was touched that he was apologizing on their behalf, because I was sure I wouldn’t hear the same from them.
As I came downstairs to face the rest of the group, my grandmother suggested we go shopping so she could buy me some potential job interview appropriate attire. I was familiar with this response; my mother deployed the same defense mechanism when an apology was due. Rather than apologize, my hurt feelings would attempt to be assuaged with gifts. In a sense, I hadn’t minded this method because if I wasn’t ever going to get an apology, hey, what girl doesn’t want to multiply her wardrobe? But I never came back from our guilt shopping sprees feeling satisfied. The wounded heart felt the same no matter how many new outfits or accessories she wore. Now I knew where my mother must have picked up this avoidance strategy.
My grandmother, mother, sister and I piled in the car and made our way into town, a 45-minute drive, one way. I wondered if the car ride could get any more awkward than two grown women trying to talk about everything but the true ulterior motive of this trip. Side note: don’t ever think ‘can this get worse?’ It almost always will.
“Kendrae is very polite,” my grandmother blurted out, cutting through the silence.
“Yes. He is polite. I wouldn’t date someone who wasn’t ,” I quickly remarked.
“I really was surprised at how nice his manners were,” my grandmother stated again.
“He has a very nice handshake too,” my mother added to the conversation.
“Yup,” I said as dryly as I could. My eyes found their way to the window on my left while my mother and grandmother rambled on about something. Was this their attempt at extending their approval of my dating Kendrae? Or were they searching for anything nice they could think of to try and chip away at the tension in the car? Either way, they were going to have to try harder if all they could think of to comment on was his handshake and manners.
If you haven’t met Kendrae, you are truly missing out. Everyone that has ever come in contact with him (present company being the only exception), instantly becomes a fan in his fan club. He is generous, kind, authentic, well-meaning, well spoken, funny, gentle, tall and handsome with a heart of gold. How could my family not see that? How could they not bring themselves to recognize that their prayers had been answered and their daughter’s wildest dreams and expectations had been surpassed?