Chapter 13: Hurricane - MsMr
There was a reason I pushed myself so hard. I was well aware of the fact that the odds were not stacked in my favor. Being undeniably the best was my attempt at leveling the playing field. In Hollywood, women were generally represented in one of two ways – the love interest or the villain. Female characters were very rarely three-dimensional. They generally didn’t have hopes or dreams. They weren’t compiled of both flaws and assets – they are the perfect ideal of the male character or the horrible monster that threatened to ruin everything. That was one strike against my dream of becoming an actress.
Unwilling to venture out and explore new horizons, Hollywood turned to book adaptations. I was all for a good read, but there was consistent thread in the ones that were approved to be produced – the heroine and the villain were white 9 times out of 10. Blonde hair, blue eyes, brunette with green ones, Red hair with hazel, or any other variation – they were the ones labeled as beautiful enough for the male protagonist to love. Regardless of the way I altered my appearance, I would never be cast into those roles. That was my second strike.
The third was my biggest pet peeve – the personification of stereotypes. Every black woman cast into a mainstream movie or show was almost always the sassy black friend, slave, criminal, or baby mama. Black men were thugs, slaves, gang-bangers, or unbelievable pristine in a black drama – to counteract the negative portrayals. Asians were always the smartest. Latinos generally had an accent, The United States wasn’t their country of origin, and they were generally hyper-sexualized. My father was black. My mom was white. My green eyes and curly hair were the only indications of my mother’s race. My skin was caramel brown, my lips were full, and my breasts and backside attracted plenty of positive attention. I didn’t want the roles that requested someone who looked like me.
My identity greatly differed from the way in which the media portrayed black people. I was in no way acting like another race, though I was commonly accused of doing so. I grew up in Southern California. My father was a sports attorney. My mother was an event planner. They were happily married. They were busy with their careers, but they always made time for me, Malcolm, and Jordan. We lived in a nice home. My brothers and I attended good schools. We visited all of our family members often. We listened to rap, hip hop, and R&B music, but those weren’t the only genres we enjoyed. Sure, we ate fried chicken at times, but we certainly didn’t limit ourselves to only eating soul food. We were people. It was hurtful to be perceived as something other than that. And then there was the identity crisis that accompanied being biracial. There were two sides of me, one that had privileges that the other was not afforded. Because I looked more black than white, I had to disregard my duality most of the time. It was something I learned at a very young age. When in public with my mom, people often assumed I was adopted or unrelated. That was hurtful in its own way. I felt as though I couldn’t win.
I’d wanted to be an actress for as long as I could remember. I was always in school productions and reenacting scenes for my parents and other family members. With the limited roles Hollywood opened to all races, I knew I couldn’t just be as good as everyone else, I had to be better than anyone they’d seen before. I also knew I couldn’t wait around for someone to declare that I was good enough. I wanted to go to college, become a writer, and star in my work. It was the dream – one I was unwilling to give up, regardless of what stood in my way.
I woke up at 5 AM on the dot, pressing the off button on my alarm. I climbed out of bed.
‘I have to make up my bed, not just the part I slept in, all of it. What if someone stops by while I’m out? A messy room would be a poor reflection of me. I have to do it now. Now!’
To silence my obsessive thoughts, I stripped my bed bare. I placed the fitted sheet back on the mattress. I smoothed out all of the wrinkles before adding the next sheet. I tucked and folded it tightly. The final layer was my purple comforter. I fluffed and rearranged my four large pillows. I picked up the decorative one from the floor and placed it in the middle. I took a step back to get perspective. Noticing that it was off-center, I returned to my bed and realigned it.
When I was done, I went to my private bathroom. After going, I thoroughly washed my hands. I removed my netted scarf from my head and brushed out my hair. I acknowledged its length, noting that it stopped at my armpit. I placed it in a high bun. I washed my face and brushed my teeth before heading into my walk-in closet. Once there, I stripped out of my nightgown,
‘I can’t just throw it into the hamper. There’s no reason to have messy AND dirty clothes. All I have to do is fold it. It won’t take long. Just fold it.’
I sighed heavily and folded my nightgown before placing it into my hamper. I changed into a pair of gray compression shorts and a lavender spandex tank top. I slipped on a pair of footie socks and returned to my bathroom. I removed an elastic headband that matched my shirt in my drawer. I slid it on my head and checked myself out in the mirror. Seeing that everything was in place, I grabbed headphones, my smartphone, and its jogging case. I bounced down the stairs and went into the kitchen.
I found my father seated at the kitchen island, pondering over a contract as he drank his coffee.
“Morning, Daddy.” I placed a kiss on his cheek.
He smiled at me as I walked to the fridge. ”You’re awake awfully early. Summer vacation is all about sleeping in.”
“Maybe for everyone else. I’ve got plenty to do.” I removed a carton of eggs and a bag of shredded cheese from the refrigerator. I closed it with my back.
“How has your OCD been?” He asked, keeping his eyes on me.
I momentarily averted my gaze. “Present.” I placed the items I removed from the fridge on the kitchen counter.
“Worse than when you don’t take your medication or the same?”
I removed a pan from below the counter and placed it on the stove. “Same.” I turned the knob to heat the burner. I brought a bowl and a fork to the kitchen island.
“How long has it been like this?” He pressed on.
“About a month and a half.” I cracked two eggs and placed them in the bowl.
‘I can’t leave the eggshells on the counter while I work. Think about all the bacteria -- salmonella. Someone could get sick or worse.’
I threw away the shells. I needed to wipe off the counter with cleaning solution before I could move forward.
He watched my compulsion with worry written all over his face. “Since you’ve been home? What’s different at boarding school? You have a therapist and a psychiatrist here in California.”
“When I’m at school, there are so many things going on. I have to do my homework, attend club meetings, and maintain my social life. My compulsions aren’t as bad when I’m busy.”
“What do you think our next course of action should be?” He folded his hands.
“Medication switch. The increase I received over winter break didn’t do much of anything. I’m keeping myself on a ridge schedule. That’s the only reason I’m not at my worst.” I whipped my eggs.
He glanced down at his watch. “I’ll schedule an appointment as soon as I get to work.” He gathered his contracts and placed them in his brief case. He stood up from his seat and came over to where I was working.
“I’ll see you later, Princess.” He placed a kiss on the top of my head.
“Bye. Have a good day.” I smiled.
“You too.” He left.
I returned my carton of eggs and bag of cheese to the refrigerator after I used them. I went to the stove and made scrambled eggs. I eased them onto a plate. I needed to wash and dry the pan, spatula, fork, and bowl immediately after I was done with them. I returned them to their designated places. I poured myself a glass of orange juice, grabbed a new fork and sat down on one of the barstools.
Feeling down, I picked up my phone and scrolled through my contacts. I selected the name I wanted and brought it to my ear.
“Hiya, Honey, how are you?” Izzie answered in an upbeat manner.
“I’ve been much better. My compulsions are pretty bad right now.” I admitted as I played with my food using my fork.
“I need you to say it.” She light-heartedly requested.
“Burning diamonds.” I fought off a smile.
“You’re like the only person on the planet that actually sticks to their fitness goals. You’ve run every day this summer. I’m sure you look adorable while doing it too. Contrary to the ‘B’ scare, your 4.0 GPA remained intact. You’ve already completed our summer reading books. You helped me pick the perfect new hairstyle. And I love, love, LOVED the ‘I miss you’ card you sent me. I felt so special to get actual mail. You’re so sweet and I miss you like crazy. Imagine me hugging you. I’m doing it in my mind.”
I giggled. “Okay, I will.”
“Did I fulfill my duty as your best friend?”
“More than. I miss seeing you every day.” I started eating.
“The feeling is mutual. They give me wake up calls and pick out my clothes at the palace, but they don’t do it like you. You almost make me like mornings. The keyword being ‘almost’.”
“Do you like Listonenia?”
“For the most part, yes. It’s gorgeous. I’m literally staying in a palace. Milo’s still himself. The down side is I know some of his family members have a problem with me. His grandmother in particular. I feel so out of place whenever she’s around.” Her tone darkened.
“Say it.” I coaxed.
“Your laugh makes me laugh, regardless of the mood I’m in. We did a stand up job picking your new do. It suits you and looks great. I looked up the Osha chick Miles was supposed to marry. Total catty-face. You win that contest, hands down, on all levels. Don’t even get me started on what she said to you. I will evil-eye her so hard she’ll feel it if we’re ever in the same room. --”
She started giggling. I couldn’t help but join her.
“I can clearly picture you doing that.” She said through her fit of laughter.
“No one, I repeat NO ONE talks to you like that and gets away with it. Who does she think she is?”
“A girl promised that she’s be a queen one day but learned ten minutes prior to that dinner that it was no longer happening.”
“Big whoop. It’s not like she loved him. It was a business transaction. She should’ve been grateful her parents were no longer selling her to the royal family to be a procreating sex slave like a sane person.”
She busted out laughing. “I wish you were here. That dinner would’ve been so much better.”
“What would I’ve done when you and Miles sneaked out early?”
“You think much further ahead than I do. I get so caught up in the moment and lose sight of everything else.”
“I am sure that time was certainly no exception.” I giggled.
“It’s more about being close to him. Those blissful moments are ours. Aside from saying, ‘I love you’, which has become dangerously close to a habit at this point, it’s our most sincere form of romanticism.”
“That’s because both of you transform everything into jokes.”
“I know. It sort of forces us to knock it off for a bit.”
“Everyone always says it’s when you’re in love. I’ll get back to you when I test that theory.”
“And if all else fails, you know it won’t be as bad as your first time, which was particularly awkward in your case.” I could hear the smile in her voice.
“Go ahead and laugh.” I coaxed knowingly.
She immediately started giggling. “Please say you don’t run into him every day now that you’re home.”
“I won’t anymore. I am home and he graduated this year. I couldn’t be happier.”
“IT WAS SCOTT?!” She cried in shock.
“Yes.” I grumbled. “His fear that I would tell was the reason I got all of my student council project proposals cleared without a single rebuttal. Good times.” I shoveled more eggs into my mouth.
She giggled. “Cunning and ruthless. I love it.”
“I’m all for whole heartedly investing my interest in the love lives of others, but wear a mean poker face when it comes to mine. I’m an over-thinker. It’s not hard for me to lose interest guys.
“But what about Ryan?” She inquired in a singsong voice.
I warded off a smile and rolled my eyes. “What about him?”
“You were cute at prom.”
“He bailed me out as a friend. There is nothing there, despite what his mom is pushing for.”
“Such a mama’s boy.”
“I know, right? It was surprising at first.”
“I still can’t wrap my mind around it. I should go to sleep now. I have an outing with Princey. I’ll probably be calling back tomorrow morning, which will be night or late afternoon your time. Time zones are weird. I’m talking to you from the future. Good news, I still love you in my time.”
I giggled. “You are sleepy. You tend to get more silly.”
“I can’t help it. I miss you already.”
“Morning, Honey.” I could hear the smile in her voice before she hung up.
I shifted my full attention to my breakfast as I perused my social media sites on my phone. My mom walked in a few minutes later. A smile graced her face when she saw me. She opened up the black portfolio she was holding and revealed a number of swatches.
“Cream or Champagne?” She pointed to two beige ones.
“Event?” I questioned as I analyzed them.
“Champagne. The shimmering finish has more of a wedding feel.” I answered.
“Robin’s egg or turquoise?” She moved her hand to a set of blue swatches.
“Robin’s egg. The green undertone is more oceanic. Turquoise makes me think of the desert.”
“You are definitely my daughter.” She hugged me and placed a kiss on my cheek.
I giggled. “I’m happy I could help.”
“Going for a run?” She walked over to the refrigerator.
“Yes, right after breakfast.” I resumed eating my eggs.
“Great choice on the protein. Make sure you stay hydrated. It’s supposed to be hot today.” She advised as gathered the ingredients to make a smoothie.
“I will.” I glanced at my phone to check the time. “Ryan arrived in California last night. We’re supposed to hang out today.”
“Oh? Will you bring him by the house?” She inquired with a hint of a smile.
“No, Dad would give him the third-degree again.” I warded off a smile of my own.
“He’s your father. He’s supposed to be protective of you.” She replied in his defense. “Ryan’s quite the charmer – a looker too.” She added after a moment of thought.
“He’s not my boyfriend.” I returned my eyes to my phone.
“Well then, you can bring your friend over. Your father won’t be home until late.”
“Okay, I will.” I agreed.
I finished eating, cleaned up my mess, and grabbed a bottle of water before heading to the front door. I removed my tennis shoes from the closet and slid them on. I placed my phone in its case and placed it on my bicep. I put on my headphones and left the house.