i’m idling by a padlocked gate with a menacing sign labeled “farm entrance” as the GPS exultantly proclaims YOU HAVE ARRIVED.
i have not.
a llama lazing in the pasture, briefly roused by the sound of tires spinning in gravel, looks up, nods curtly and resumes his nap.
i’m due to meet the stepbrother in five minutes. the fact that i can’t even hold the attention of a farm animal does not bode well.
there is very much the sense that i have stumbled into the big leagues and that i do not belong. i’m so, so minor. double A, at best.
i don’t like talking to people, much less strangers- it’s so much easier to read a book- but here i am, forking over my southwest miles, driving a rental and squatting at a travelodge off RI-4, all so i can talk to a stranger for an hour and a half.
my dad says most people feel this way most of the time. that it’s just a matter of pretending you can do something and then you will. ACTING! he exclaims, brandishing an imaginary sword.
(this has been the driving philosophy behind nearly everything outstanding anyone in my family has ever done, thus draining all our accomplishments of their intellectualism and rendering them mere feats of vaudeville.)
i’m idling by the farm entrance when i remember this. ACTING! i actually say it aloud and mentally brandish my imaginary sword. and, with a straightening of the shoulders and a tossing of the hair, i call up the stepbrother and wail that i’ve no idea where i am.
this is how i learn i am literally not 3 feet from where i’m supposed to be.
all of this- asking for the interview, getting it, setting it up, confirming- has felt like the run-up to a first date. and not even a grown-up date but a high school date, where you make elaborate weeks-long preparations to ensure the availability and cleanliness of your parent’s minivan.
i’m in an impala, which seems close enough. i’ve also painted my nails, put on a cardigan and peed no less than fifteen times before leaving home. this is classic high school date prep.
but this isn’t a date. it’s an interview with the stepbrother, who is an 85-year-old man.
upon having found the right driveway, i pull up to the castle and park in back. disembarking, my leg and sandal get tangled in the strap of my purse and i trip at such an angle that, observing me from above, you would’ve assumed i was humping the impala.
i know the stepbrother was on the second floor. i pray to god he didn’t see.
the front door is glass. i ring the bell and stand with my arms bent at a bridesmaidly angle as though clutching an invisible bouquet for dear life.
a gentle whir rolls through the air as the elevator moves into action and, from the heavens, the stepbrother descends…