Her big day has finally come. My sister Sandria can hardly contain her excitement and has been fluttering about for days and weeks. If this is what she is like during the preparations for a simple engagement party reception, I cannot wait to see what she will be like when the actual wedding approaches.
My graduation from college a few weeks ago was by far less interesting to my family than this event. For everybody except me, that is. I didn't even expect my family to show up that day, but they did. All four of them sat there, my two older sisters and my parents watching as I dutifully received my degree and hurried off the stage right after. They clinked glasses with me,they congratulated me in a formal and distant manner—as it has always been with us—and then they drove off, only to have Sandria announce her engagement a few days later.
So that was that.
When it comes to my family, I'm not even mad or disappointed any longer. When there are no expectations, no need for their praise or attention, no hope for affection ontheir part—how could I ever feel bad?
I am the third of three daughters, and obviously, I was meant to be a boy. After two girls, I was my parents' last attempt at conceiving a male heir who could continue the family name. Instead, I not only turned out to be another girl, but I also grew to look like my late grandmother on my father’s side. A dark haired woman with big, dark eyes and what my mother considers a “challenging personality.”
My grandmother was a rebel, mostly because she married late and reproduced even later, focusing instead on her own career. She was a writer, a journalist, and an avid traveler. All that was tamed a little when she married my grandfather and became a mother.But she stopped after having just one child and—heaven forbid—divorced her husband when my father went off to college. She dove right back into her work, traveling the world and writing pieces about all kinds of topics for the biggest newspapers.
She died when I was seven years old after that bitch cancer took a hold of her. Although I only remember very little of her, I feel a deep sorrow for her early death. I feel like she was the only person in my family that I was close to.
Just like her, I didn't follow along the path that has been laid out for me as eagerly as my sisters did, despite giving that impression at first look. I have always been a good student; I took every class they wanted me to, learned to dance and play music. My little rebellion when I took to the goth community for a while during High School can hardly be seen as anything but cute.
Doesn’t sound too bad now, does it? Others would say that I am the perfect daughter.
But I never make the right friends. I never say the right things, and I am unwilling to behave as they wish me to. I am too quiet, too withdrawn, too weird, and too blunt. I have too little interest in the right people, the right men, the right topics that define life. When they let me chose an instrument to take lessons for, they were delighted to hear that I wanted to play the violin. Such a decent and perfectly elegant instrument, an excellent choice for a daughter of the Barrington household. However, they neither wished nor expected me to fall in love with the instrument. Instead of a silly little decoration, something to brag about, the violin became my companion, my only outlet for expression. The better I got, the more I played, the less I spoke.
Not being able to hold a proper conversation with their guests at the dinner table is a deadly sin in my family's world. They tried to take the violin away from me, but there was nothing they could do about it when I left for college. As much as they wanted to control me, they also wanted me to follow the normal path of a well-educated child of a good family. So they had to send me off to college.
When I told them that I decided against both Brown and Yale to go to a private liberal arts college instead, they didn't even put up a fight. They didn't care anymore. Besides, college was primarily supposed to be a place for me to meet a man after all. For them, it doesn’t matter what I majored in, but for me to attend an Ivy League school would have been appreciated. It sounds good. And there are suitable bachelors gracing the campus with their presence.
Then again, my choice for a different school was a good fit to the overall “challenging personality” that I allegedly inherited from my troublemaker grandmother.
It’s okay. It has its place. Even having a bad seed in the family is seen as an accessory in their world. I am that bad seed. The weird outcast that no one understands and no one cares for. Like an adopted puppy, I am taken care of just enough, but always know that I don't belong. I have become invisible to them.
They don't have to show me. I don't need their dismissal to feel out of place.
All my life, I have felt that there is something profoundly missing for me. I know that I am yearning for something, but I still cannot put my finger on it. All I know is that I don’t fit in. I am not even hurt by the fact that my family has become alien to me and vice versa.
It’s all the worse that I had to move back in with them. No one is happy about this arrangement, and I don’t know who’s hoping more for me to get out of here as soon as possible: me or my parents.
Our house is a location for parties, receptions, and dinners all the time, but very few are as big as today’s event. I am standing among all these people, shaking hands, greeting everybody I have to greet until it finally gets crowded enough for me to become an irrelevant factor at this party. The redundant daughter that some people don’t even know about.
I grab my glass of champagne, the third of the day already, and flee to the garden, staring off into space in an attempt to avoid further conversation.
I hate social events. I hate groups,and I hate socializing. In a way, I am perfectly fine with just myself—and in a different way I am not. Not at all.
Happiness is such a mystery to me.
There are few things that make me smile, and some of them scare the hell out of me.
I can still feel the restraints around my ankles when I walk. The places where the rope cut deep into my flesh. I didn't do anything to help my tortured skin, and I am not trying to hide it. No one will notice anyway. The faint, red lines that circle my ankles just above my feet. They burn with every step as the pantyhose rubs against them.
They make me smile. Pain makes me smile.
Like many others, this one is self-induced. A reminder of the darkest corners my mind wanders off to when I am by myself. When I touch myself to the thought of being tied up, choked and raped by a stranger.