Today is my thirty-fifth birthday and who am I? I can’t say anymore.
His foot is tap- tap- tapping as I stare at my pancakes. He thinks this is a birthday gift, making me breakfast. It must be his birthday every other damn day of the year.
I know now. I don’t want to be a wife. I don’t want to be a mother. I want to be a woman, traveling the world, making a name for herself.
“Baby, don’t do this,” he says every time I try to pack my bags.
Inside I think, fuck you. Respect me as a dreamer and an artist and a beautiful work of God and maybe I wouldn’t want to. But outside I just stay quiet and sit cross-legged on the floor with my things sprawled around me and start to cry as he calls me to the bed.
He thinks I never will, but I will. I know it’s time. Today is my thirty-fifth birthday and my present to myself is to leave.
The other women, they don’t understand.
“Is he hitting you?” They ask, feeling my arms. “Is he hurting her?” “Is he messing around?”
I shake my head and try to explain that this role just isn’t right for me. That I need to be myself. They especially don’t see how I could ever leave Sara. I don’t know how to explain to them that for some people, being a parent can’t satisfy all your needs. And that I’m one of those people.
I want everything for my daughter, don’t get me wrong. I love her and I want her to grow up and become a beautiful actress or a dedicated businesswoman or even marry a wonderful man. I want to get a Christmas card of her and her family and put it on the wall of my Italian villa. I want her to be happy. But I love myself too and it’s time for me to do what I want to for once.
Today is my thirty-fifth birthday and as they go in the kitchen to frost the cake and light the candles, I pull the envelope out of my purse, place it on the table, and slip out the back door.
I ride the train two hours away and meet a couple women dressed in peacock feathers. We buy tequila sunrises and talk to men who tell us we are beautiful. We tap-tap-tap our feet to the reggae being played at the bar next door, then take our heels off to dance on the beach.
And then, as the sun starts to creep back into the sky, I carry my shoes two blocks back to the station. I board the train, get off at a familiar stop, and climb into bed.
by Emily Montgomery
Submitted on: 2012/11/14 at 2:30 pm