there is a strange atmosphere tonight as i come home. an almost cheery mood is spread along the rooms, and a strange half-smile plays on my mother’s lips. actually it is not that strange. it is one of those smiles that tells me that “there is something to be said”, “there are some interesting developments” “there are words” kind of thing.
i cringe a bit inside. whenever my parents have these type of smiles playing on their lips, something is going on. and it is usually something that they need my help with. and something i will not like to help with. but that i have to do. for the sake of my parents. for the sake of family.
it usually involves a “new” piece of furniture, or a new telephone conversation my father has had with those nice girls at telemarketing. or an “El Gordo” lottery letter which invites me to claim 896,563 EURO in Spain, right after i submit my bank account and routing number. and don’t forget the social security number.
i sit down to eat and nobody approaches me. i count myself lucky. maybe somebody’s wife gave birth to somebody or maybe my mom won $20.00 at scratch games. she usually wins enough to make my dad play again until they lose the won money.
again, i sit down in front of the computer and start adding and subtracting the budget. i hate the whole thing, but somebody has to do it. not that i am any good with it. after 15 minutes of mixing up my simple account, including the penny change and still coming up -$200.00, i give up and surf on facebook. i got karma, drinks, kisses, smiles, even a thrown book. nice.
i am basking on the virtual love of friends i have never met in person, when my mom approaches. i can feel the smile radiating from the back of my head.
‘well’ she says, ‘i got another delivery today’ and shows me a white envelope. what can it be? i see her take a picture out of it and with a sinking heart i take it, not needing to listen to the explanation:
‘i did not even ask for it, but the sister has seen you somewhere. and it is a nice guy, now in Albania, but he’s lived in Italy too, you know. and he’s still single. and he is handsome.’
what can i possibly say to my mother? the most humiliating thing is that i actually look at the picture, and the guy seems really cute. tall, dark hair, white skin, sitting in the de rigueur Albanian emigrant pose, in front of some steps and an old looking building somewhere in Europe? whatever, at least it is not in front of a Harley or a Benz or a Vespa or even a Mountain Bike. be still my heart, a worldy man.
if i say yes, maybe i’ll be engaged by the summer, married by fall, and have children by next spring. he’ll be near his sister and have his papers too. and we’ll both have it made. ahh the Albanian-American dream.
i give the picture back to my mother, and start to compose a very grissly and especially bloody/gory Valentine’s story in my head. featuring a tall, good looking stranger with fair skin and dark hair, fresh-of-the-boat, who meets his fiance for the first time. a good girl whose hobbies include crochet, cooking and dismembering young men with dark hair and fair skin. and fake tom cruise sun glasses.