I believe my mother is a fairy. When I was eight years old, I asked her when I would get powers of my own. She said, “When you turn sixteen.” I was patient; I waited.
I believed a lot of things, I always have and I still do. I used to believe the mirror in my bedroom led to a broken down apartment where the toilet was a cardboard box and lemon candies could grant wishes. I used to believe that I had a flying invisible kitten, that John Lennon’s spirit had contacted me through a Ouija board, that everyone could read my mind. I still believe my brother can. I believe that I will know I am going to die a day before I do. And I believe my mother is a fairy.
I don’t mean she dresses like Glinda the Good Witch, or flits around forests perching on toadstools. I mean she can rewire the electricity, operate a chainsaw, fix the plumbing, and patch the ceiling. I mean she can work from 8 am to 8 pm at her office in Times Square and then come home and cook dinner with the strange new vegetables she found in Chinatown. I mean she can buy a $20 jacket and wear it like it cost $200, conjugate verbs in Latin, grow a garden on our rooftop, make my father laugh. I mean that whenever I’m about to kiss somebody for the first time, she calls my cell-phone.
On the morning of my sixteenth birthday, I stumbled bleary-eyed into the kitchen. She was making coffee. She looked small and frail in her oversized pajamas. Her face was etched with laugh lines and her shoulder blades jutted out like wings. The sun shown down through the skylight and highlighted the deep purple under her eyes. I had never realized how close we were in height before. I stepped forward and hugged her. On the morning of my sixteenth birthday, my mother took one look at my face and asked me if I could fly.
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