In third grade, I devised a plan for me and my two best friends to start saving up all our tooth fairy and Christmas money, so that when we graduated high school we could buy my grandparents house in New Jersey and live in it together. My dad hated my grandparents. He called my grandma a wacko hippie, bringing up times when she joined cult-ish help groups, or when she asked my brother “what color is your headache?” I didn’t care. I just liked roaming the creaky halls of their old house.
I drew out the four story house from memory, sketching all the rooms and furniture, and carefully labeling everything. That’s the only way I really knew how to mimic my mother, the kitchen designer. I couldn’t read through her two worry lines nestled between her eyebrows. I could absorb everything she said, but she said it with such indifference compared to the rantings of my father that I didn’t feel I really knew her. Instead I watched her work, I watched her bony fingers gracefully pull out a scale rule, push three times on the tiny silver back of her drafting pencil, and trace a perfect line of miniature rows of oak cabinets.