THE OLD HOUSE AND OTHER SHORT STORIES
LUNCH AT CHEZ ANTOINE (fragment)
Still three hours to go. Time enough. I better take a shower once and for all. Or better, not yet. I am so nervous that I'm sure I'll get all sweaty gain before getting dressed to go. Okay, calm down. What did Carola say I had to do? Breathe deeply, loosen up and remember that I am not the only one who is nervous. To concentrate on the fact that I have wanted this all my life, blah, blah. But the truth is that when thinking about it… all those years, on so many sleepless nights… I never expected I would tremble like this, and I'm still not even out of the door. I don’t not what to wear yet, for goodness sake! You still have more than two hours to go, Laurita, calm down. Wait. Again, I called myself Laurita. I do not know where that comes from. Who knows what name they would have given me. Did they even think of a name? I didn’t dare ask them. Coward. So many things I never dared to ask. Carola says it's okay, that I have to do it when I am ready, and in a natural way. But there is nothing natural about this since I just told Mom and Dad that I was going to see my parents. But what do I wear? I do not want to go in jeans. If Mom were not so sad, I would call and ask her. But I can’t, I don’t want to burden her with this silliness of my wardrobe doubts too. I already hurt them enough. Poor dears. They were wrecked but managed to smile, so as not to disappoint me. Because I saw clearly in their eyes what they felt when I told them I was going to meet them. To meet the others. What a mighty mess. Who are the others here? My birth parents, or Mom and Dad? I call them "my parents," and Carola said it's okay. They are my parents, because “Mom and Dad” will always be that to me. But Carola is snug in her office while I am the one who has to be here, to put my face, body, and soul in the hands of those strangers who probably did not even knew they were conceiving me! Who knows where or how. Did they even reach orgasm? Both of them? Or am I the result of some casual and trivial encounter? Will I ever find out? OK, I can’t believe I’m having these thoughts. I don’t even know them. Will they like me? That’s what worries me. I think I'm afraid of being judged, not accepted. But Carola said that this fear is normal, so cut it out and don’t panic, Laurita. Stop procrastinating and get into the shower!
This time Gino gave me a good haircut, and the color looks natural too. I’m glad because it doesn’t always end up this way. I want to look elegant and endearing for her. And for Ricardo too, after all these years. A quarter of a century without seeing him. He did not send me any pictures, and neither did I. The one I emailed to her was the best I had on hand. She's so pretty! What would she think of me? She was looking for us. My babe. I call her "my babe.” So many years of thinking, of feeling her that way. Of not allowing myself to give her an identity other than the one I felt when I saw her for the first and last time. When she stopped crying and looked at me, although I knew she still could not see me, I felt those eyes piercing me to the bottom of my soul. As if she knew, as if she asked me why? I had relived those few minutes so many times in my mind. The nuns only allowed me to cradle her for a brief moment, but not long enough. “Don’t get used to her," they said. What would they know? How can one not become familiar to a part of oneself that will be there forever and cannot be separated, even if it is taken far away? It is always in there, and that is definitive. At some point, I even thought that it would have been better not to have had her. (...)