Par Jo Lee
Upon celebrating her 22nd birthday, Jennifer felt like she was experiencing a quarter-life crisis. Stuck in an uninspiring job with no creative outlets on the side, living at home with very traditional parents who were hoping to marry her off soon and surrounded by close-minded people the majority of her time, she was beginning to wonder if this was all life had to offer. She woke up early on Saturday morning but stayed in bed for a few hours just thinking about what the world outside of her bubble. All the experiences and adventures awaiting for her to acquire some courage to live them. She thought about how wild it would be to just buy a ticket, move somewhere and be someone else, even just for a little while. Jennifer had traveled to a few places though not as many as she’d have liked and the trips only lasted a week or so, barely enough time to land, unpack and take a deep breath. She was always dreaming of moving away, or in her own terms “running away”. This nomadic urge had been growing ever since she’d finished high school yet the courage to follow through had been missing. How could she justify that to family? Her friends? Her employer?
“JENNIFER! IT’S 11 IN THE MORNING, WHEN ARE YOU COMING OUT FOR BREAKFAST?”, yelled her mother Andie.
Jennifer grabbed a pillow and faked asphyxiation by pressing it against on her face. Within a few minutes, she was up, dressed in cozy pajamas and making her way to the kitchen.
“Fix your hair!”, Andie said.
“Good morning to you too. I’m great, thanks for asking”, Jennifer replied sarcastically.
“What do you have planned for today?”, Andie grilled her.
“Sleeping, eating and sleeping”, Jennifer mumbled while pouring herself a glass of tea.
“That’s all you ever do lately. What’s wrong with you? Are you pregnant?”, her mother asked half-hopingly.
“Is that your question for everything? If I have good appetite, you want to know if I’m pregnant. If I’m tired, maybe I’m pregnant. If I don’t feel like eating, then I’m definitely pregnant.”
“Well, you know back home girls your age have at least one kid already”, preached Andie, referring to their African roots.
“Yes, back home, I’d also be queen of a cattle ranch, taking milk showers Cleopatra-style and pissing in a bidet made of pure gold. I’m really missing out”, she mused.
“Don’t be a smart ass! Don’t you think it’s time for you to consider finding a nice guy and settling down?”, her mom continued, “What about Em?”
“He’s off-limits”, Jennifer retorted.
“Since when?”, her mother asked, genuinely curious. Em was the only boyfriend her mother liked and she was visibly disappointed at the thought of him being off the market.
“Since he’s my EX. Besides Jeremy is the eldest so if anyone’s tying the knot anytime soon, you’re barking up the wrong tree”, she said as she stuffed a huge piece of toasted waffle into her mouth and picked up the Travel section of the Saturday paper.
After breakfast, Andie insisted on taking Jennifer shopping for her birthday since she hadn’t gotten a chance to buy her a gift. Two hours later, the women were browsing racks at various stores, clutching heavy bags of purchases they’d just made. Jennifer found numerous dresses that she deemed ‘european chic’ and picked up a few lipsticks during her splurge. She didn’t want to wear more makeup but she definitely wanted to put more effort into her appearance. At 5’7, she was thin and naturally beautiful though she appreciated the enhancements that well applied make-up provided. With heels, she looked almost as tall as Naomi Campbell but that had more to do with her great posture then with her actual height and heels combined. She loved the Arts, all of it which explained why she was feeling so constrained at her current job. She wanted to quit and run away. Run away from her tedious yet complacent daily tasks, from her uneventful life, from her mother’s expectations and large volumes of pressure. She just wanted to scream “Fuck it all” at the top of her lungs and let the wind blow her away to her another time, another life, another Her.