Yesterday I was given my first china tea cup
at Emma’s eighth birthday party.
I wore my pinkest tights and bluest sweater
with black rain boots for the slush,
and sipped Birthday tea with Rebecca
while one by one the girls lined up for fairy dust.
As the woman with fairy dust dusted their
heads and shoulders, knees and toes,
they closed their eyes, spun in circles, and made wishes.
Rebecca told me it would take weeks to scrub the
sparkles from their scalps.
I have a cupboard full of mugs and ball jars,
a cabinet full of chai. But at the end of the party,
after cutting the tea pot cake and oohing at
jewelry kits and gold fabric, drawing books
and ipod dancing dogs, I was given a favor
of my own to exclaim over. Myself, and four
perfect eight year old girls were handed pink
paper bags. We pulled out journals,
bags of Earl Grey and English Breakfast tea,
and much to my delight, a china tea cup with
the most delicate painted flowers.
Rebecca said she knew I’d like it as much as
the girls. She was right enough that I blushed,
wide eyed with wonder over the perfect combination
of every little thing a girl could want
on a snowy afternoon. I felt found out.
I did not wrestle when the girls did,
or do the worm dance that they
were trying over and over to do. I smiled,
all twenty-four years of play and dress-up
suddenly shy and aware of the distance
between us. But I listened to the girls talk in
serious tones about who knew more words to
Taylor Swift’s song. I smiled at their wild
play and snow fights after scones and sugary tea
and birthday cake. This was not so different
from what I did with my roommates. We make each
other tea and give each other gifts, and argue
about which book on the shelf is best. We cry and
and laugh and dance in the living room, and now
we have our first china tea cup to add to the cupboard.
Yesterday, buckled into the front seat,
asking about fondant and how to book a Tea Room for
a birthday party, I heard my voice and thought it strange.
I am in the space between daughter and mother,
my dreams are wild and bruised, my home is
a non-stop sleepover with friends, and yet,
I file taxes. I wear high heels and carry keys.
Funny how that pink bag held so many things
that haven’t changed. Rebecca sang along
with Kendall, Emma wrapped her friends in fabric,
sent them in the living room one by one,
her dream of fashion designer realized one
skirt at a time. I walked home in the deepest
drifts of snow, stopping at a dollar store to
wander through the aisles. I picked up
nail polish and put it back, thumbed through
kitchen towels and set them down. Finally,
I purchased dangling silver earrings.
When I got home, pink and plastic bag in hang,
I unlocked the front door with the keys in my
pocket, and put on a pot of water to boil.