“Mama! Mama!” I ran down the stairs, stumbling along the way out of pure excitement. My legs felt like jelly.
Maria slid to one side of the staircase to let me by. “Your Mama is in the garden!”
“Thank you, Maria!” I screeched. Not slowing down. I darted out the front door, down the steps, and made my way to the garden as quickly as I could. I was grinning from ear to ear.
“What has gotten into you, Addy?” Mama was on her knees beside Hank, pulling weeds.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I sang as I dropped to my knees beside her.
She smiled graciously, but obviously had no idea what I was talking about. “Thank me for what, silly girl?”
Her dark hair was pulled loosely into a pony tail, and she had dirt smeared across her cheek.
“For the ticket!” I reminded her.
“Ticket?” She was still bemused.
“The ticket to ride the bus! I thought you and Father were always going to make me fly!!!” I had always been forced to travel back to school by plane. I felt silly being the only college student who was chauffeured from a private jet straight to their dorm room. I was taking sociology this semester and realized that I had never had the normal experiences that the average person has. I could not wait to see the country slide by my window instead of gazing down on it from a plane up above. I felt independent and proud.
“I don’t mean to burst your bubble, Addy, but I have no idea what you are talking about still.” Mama pushed a strand of hair away from her forehead with the back of her hand. “Go ask your father about it...”
Ask my father? Why would he have left a ticket? Why would he have known that such a simple gesture would fulfill me more than anything fancy or expensive could? How could someone so different from me understand?
The excitement drained from my body as I headed back toward the house. I followed the same path as before, only this time instead of running with excitement, I dragged my feet in confusion. I thought about the way the ticket was lovingly tucked under my jewelry box and knew that it just couldn’t have been him.
Many years before this moment, I had already made up my mind that I hated Father. It was hard-wired into me. Something that I couldn’t change regardless of the thoughtfulness of the gesture. I paused for a second outside of his study, but instead of stepping in to thank him I headed upstairs to pack my things and prepare for the most normal trip back to college that I could have ever asked for.
“I want to go on a bus!” Anna announced at dinner. We still ate dinner around the table every single time we were home. I felt my father glance up from his food at me, but I stared straight ahead.
“I just hope you’ll be careful, Addy.” Mama was already worried about the trip and had asked repeatedly for me to let her send someone with me for protection.
“I’ll be careful. I’ll blend right in.” I smiled, shoveling a fork full of roast in my mouth. I hoped that someone would change the subject before Father joined in, and decided to change it myself. “I can’t believe how big those azaleas are getting out front, Mama!”
Mama smiled. She was old enough by now to enjoy the slow pace of gardening and was patient enough to wait for the peak time of growth. I on the other hand would plant a seed and abandon it two weeks later. I couldn’t make myself sit and wait for the life of me. “Hank is a wonderful help out there.”
“I think we should increase his pay, don’t you?” My father finally chimed in.
“That would be nice. Maybe Maria too?” Mama looked across the table at my father, I wondered if she knew how he was tipping Maria? I wondered if Maria had any little half siblings of mine running around her house? With as much time as she spent at our house, I wondered did she even have a place of her own at all.
“Yes, it has been awhile since she has gotten a raise…” And the conversation had been successfully diverted.
The rest of the evening was spent discussing a vast array of topics, and thank goodness it never made its way back to the ticket.
In only two days I would be on my way back to school, by bus! I was more excited about being a commoner for awhile, than I had ever realized. Having money sets people apart, whether they realize it or not. We were a notch above the rest and had to travel to fancy boarding schools in order to blend in and eventually to colleges where we were expected to join sororities and excel. I just longed to blend in. If I was going to stand out it was going to be because of my talent, not because of my parents' bankroll.