I walked up the stairs into a pizza aroma filled kitchen. Husky
and Lilly ran over to me like a stampede. I knew that my mom
secretly couldn't stand any of the dogs.
"Matty, is that you?"
Two-tone met me in the dining room, whimpering like a
lost dog at a park. I picked him up to allow his grotesque breath
to fulfill my senses.
"There's pizza in the kitchen sweetie."
Just how the old saying goes, home sweet home.
Usually, Two-tone and I barricade ourselves in my
bedroom either listening to music or watching a cable movie. Now,
that my mom had moved out of the house, I hate to say it, but I
was freer. I now had the opportunity to stretch my legs across
the couch. Two-tone found a new home, curled up against my feet.
The both of us watched "First Wives Club" for the umpteenth time.
But, in the living room, for the first time. Even with the
television up one notch higher than usual, the house was quiet.
The cars passing by and the Funero boy three houses down the
street celebrating his teen years, made up for the lack of noise
inside the house. I thought for sure that this new breed of
silence would be deafening, but in actuality, the silence was
peaceful and relaxing. For once, I was relaxing in my house.
It only took 20 years.
"I'm sorry sweetie; I don't mean to ignore you." My
dad came out of his lair, better known as the computer room. "Do
you mind if I join you?" I position myself upward, facing the
television, with Two-tone now attached to my hip.
"Only if you don't mind watching Bette Midler, Goldie
Hawn, and Diane Keaton seeking justice on their cheating
husbands." Stan, the good Stan, makes himself a drink.
"Not at all. I too love Bette Midler. You want a
drink?" My father had never once offered an alcoholic beverage to
me. I had to take up on the offer.
"Yeah, why not?"
"Do you want anything in particular?"
"Make me whatever you're having."
"I'm having a Scotch on the rocks."
"Me too then."
I was about to drink an alcoholic beverage from the
obscurely open bar; the same bar I had only given into temptation
once. Now that I was 20 years-old, why the hell not actually
have a drink from the forbidden bar?
"Here you go sweetie." I engulf an average amount so
I could get the actual taste on my tongue.
Scotch is nothing like whiskey. Scotch is…
"So, fill me in. How's journalism? Do you like it?"
Disgusting, but I'll learn to like it.
"I do dad. I had my doubts after the first class, but
I smacked myself with reality. I've waited too long for this.
It's my turn to take advantage of my wants." I take another sip.
"It'll taste better once it's watered down." I set
the glass on my lap. "I'm glad that you have that attitude.
Nothing is easy. It'll be tough at times and wonderful at times,
but keep at it and you will succeed. I promise." Dad must have
caught the philosophical bug that seems to be traveling around my
world lately. He, who once tried to persuade me to change my mind
about my dream. I remember his words vivdly.
"Sweetie, Journalism just seems so big and so
intangible. You could major in Sociology or History and maybe do
some freelance work once you have graduated. You need a
Maybe it was my mother's absence that allowed him to be more open
minded and understanding of my decision.
"How's Danny doing? Is he busy this weekend?"
"He's good. No he's not busy. I just wanted to be
home, without him. I miss home."
"Home misses you too. You know Matty, your mom and I
never meant to hurt you. I know that we have, and I can speak for
your mother when I say that it makes us feel as though we are
awful parents. We never wanted to make you feel that our feelings
towards each other had any bearing on you. You do realize that,
I did, however, there was always that annoying
apprehension that stands in the way.
"Honestly dad," I needed another sip. "At times I
felt I was the only reason why you two stayed together, that's
when I would place all of the blame on me. Not every argument was
about me, but a big a portion did involve me. Those times, I had
no other choice but place the blame on me." And there goes
another, yet smoother, sip.
"I can see how we could have made it seem that way,
and I despise myself for that. But Matty, truth of the matter is,
your mother and I knew each other. Sure, we had past
relationships, in high school, but we met in college. We were
both 19. Back then, we thought we were made for one another. We
were great for a while, hell we were great for about ten years,
and then comfort set in. We felt 100 percent comfortable hating
one another. We were both too scared to leave that comfort. You
were the best part of our relationship, Matty."
Hell, the Scotch looks watered down enough, start drinking…
"Honey, you sure you want to drink it that fast?" I
"Yes." I place the glass back up to my lips.
"Matty, did I say something to upset you?"
"No dad. You didn't realize that you just described
Danny and me to a tee."
"Oh? What do you mean? I didn't mean to--"
"Everything was going great this summer. We took a
week vacation to Hampton Beach, which pretty much rejuvenated our
relationship. School...over all school is great. I've been
learning to even out all the confusion in my life with a list. I
was beginning to conquer the barriers that are in my life in my
own way. I've been caught up with managing these specific
barriers, that I almost forgot that I have a relationship to work
on as well. Trust me, Danny and I are no where near the path to
loathing one another, but we have settled deeply into the bed of
comfort. We are completely comfortable with one another. Ant
helped me to put it into some perspective and now, Dad, you've
hit the nail on the head."
"Never mind. I need to add my relationship with Danny
on to the list."
"What's the list?"
It's now 1 am and I enter my room with a buzz. I take
the picture of my grandmother and hold her up to my eye level.
"What would you say to me if you were still alive?"
Mom's apartment was literally five blocks away from
Dad's, and yet it felt more like five towns away. For 20 years,
all I've known was an unconventional chaotic household. I've know
home to be Anne and Stan Bianco, fighting. Lilly and Husky
barking every second did help to make me feel at home, but
heading over to a new destination to see my mother, I needed to
have Two-tone by my side.
Sandyville's streets are made up of 100 year old
homes that are either complied with a traditional family, or are
constructed into apartments. My mother's apartment just happened
to be in one of the misfit houses in town; a white siding, black
shuttered house that had a bright red front door. A salary for a
sales person in retail makes it difficult to afford the cost of a
house, so renting it is for Anne. When entering through the front
door, the hallway displayed plastic candles as its source of
lighting, not entirely revealing the drab brown paneling.
Two-tone huddled closely to my ankle. He's never been outside of
the house much, only for the occasional visit to the vet. For the
house looking as beautiful as a residential home could on the
outside, the inside, so far, was way too dark.
"Do I knock?" I ask Two-tone, who was staring up at
me just as confused as I was. "It's my mother; I am allowed to
just walk in, right?" Confusing. This whole situation was
So, I decided to knock. "It's weird, knocking on my
"Hello Matty, you could have just walked in. Who were
you talking to?" She looks down, noticing the frightened
Two-tone. "Oh. Your dog."
"Do you mind? He misses me, but I can take him back
home--I mean back to dads."
"Of course your dog can stay here, I get it." Mom
lets us into the apartment. 'Trust me, all he used to do was lie
up against your pillows and whimper during the night." I look
down to my right, noticing a full glass of wine on her brand new
oak wood coffee table. "It was pathetic."
I stood still, scoping around the brand new living room. To the
left of me, there was a section of a wall devoted to me.
Photographs of me, ranging in age, formed an arch directly above
a 24' screen television. This decorating style was not only
different, but brand new. "The rug is tan, but I only pay $500 a
month and with these beige walls, I guess it's a perfect match."
"Mom, you have a Matty shrine."
"Well, of course I do. You're my only child."
"Well, yes. Anyways, let me show you your bedroom."
The kitchen was connected to the living room without
a walkway or doorway to distinguish the two. Aside from the
evident kitchen appliances, the white aluminum flooring and the
oak cabinets and dinner table provides a differentiation between
"I even bought myself a brand new black fridge and a
black stove, just what I've always wanted. The rent originally
was four hundred month, but since Joe, the landlord, replaced the
old cabinets with new ones, I have to pay a hundred dollars
The tone in my mother's voice had now become an
enthused one. Usually, she speaks in a low, sarcastic tone. I
don't ever recall hearing her enthused about, anything.
She turns to the left to flick on the light switch
inside of the room, before us.
"This is your room Matty. Walk on in."
I stepped into a brand new territory, where an oak
bed, an oak dresser, and even an oak vanity stared back at me.
"Oak is my new favorite." Behind the oak bed post,
there is a Less Than Jake poster taking up majority of the wall
I was speechless.
"They're your favorite band, right?"
"Yes, mom, they are. I didn't think you knew who they
"I know Matty."
Two-tone jumped up on the forest green comforter,
which went well with the tan rug and salmon hued walls.
"Well, what do you think?"
"I love it mom. I can't believe you did all
"Let me pour you a glass of wine."
The chestnut wicker couches were nowhere near as
comfortable as the brown velvet couches at home. I cross my legs,
sitting in Indian style, in hopes to capture an essence of
"Honey, I want you to know that whatever may have
happened between your dad and I was not any of your fault." Maybe
if I put my left leg under the right, I might be more
comfortable. "We faded away, a long time ago. Our relationship
was a train wreck…going nowhere, very fast." This position hurts
a little...switch it up.
"I think you knew that. I knew it; it was just that
your father couldn't grasp it." I sit back, hoping the white
cushion would provide me an inkling of comfort. "God Matty, if
feels so good to finally let all of this out...I haven't loved
your father for years. The only reason I stayed with him was
because of you."
"It screws with a child's head when their parents
separate or divorce. It puts them through a lot of confusion and
anguish. Honey, I didn't want that for you. So, I stayed strong
for you and sucked up the house and your father."
Was I actually hearing this correctly? Was she
actually saying this?
"You just said it was none of my fault. And trust me,
deep down I know that. How dare you mom for using me as the
reason why yours and dad's relationship was a 'train wreck'."
"Matty," I sand up. "Sit down."
"No." I stare down at my mother, becoming almost a
hierarchy of authority over her. "By the both of you fighting as
mush as you absolutely loved to... that is what put me through
tons of confusion and tons and tons of anguish throughout my
childhood and lingering into adolescence." I walk on over to the
"Please, let's talk about this."
"Honestly, mom," I grab my purse, which is hanging on
a black wrought iron coat hanger. "I am through with this
I open the door. The dark, drab hallway entices my
anger; I slam the door behind me. I flip open my cell phone and
dial the first number that naturally came to mind.
"Danny, this is not going as I intended. I just told
off my mom and stormed out of her apartment."
"It turns out that my mother used me, her only child,
as the sole reason why she stayed in the house and continued
being Mrs. Anne Bianco. She basically deemed me as her scapegoat.
She made me feel as though I was the sole reason for what was
wrong with my household."
"I am realizing that I have no key part in any of the
animosity they reined heavily throughout that house. But, how
dare she utter those words to her daughter. My father made damn
sure that they were the only ones to blame, I had no key part in
their reciprocated animosity." I inhale, literally trying to
breathe in his warm breath. "I need you. Want to meet somewhere
or I could just head back to your house? We can get drunk, really
drunk. Hammered even."
"I thought the whole purpose was to be there with
your parents and be there for them? Don't just walk away Matty."
"Did you not just hear the words that came out of my
mouth? My mom used me as the scapegoat for their useless,
pointless, train wreck of a relationship. What kind of parent
"You are not--"
"I know it's not true, but to hear it, really pisses
me off. Please, let's just do something, preferably involving
alcohol, and forget about it…all."
"Well, Matty, I don't want to interfere with all of
this. Honestly, this has nothing to do with me. This is something
you made clear that you needed to do, on your own. I think that's
how it should be."
"Danny, I need you. Did you hear that?"
I was sounding a bit pathetic.
"Sweetie, yes I did. Unfortunately, I have plans
"Henderson and I are gonna hang out. Probably hit up
a few bars." He has plans and I am all alone.
"I'm sorry babe, I really am, but you need to do this
alone. I think you were right from the beginning. Just try and
muster up some strength by giving you and your mom a little bit
of time. Maybe try to call your mom tomorrow morning. Time clears
the mind and you both can start over with a rational mind. Just
be strong...you can do this alone."
Alone, being the operative word here.
"Yeah. Yeah, you're right."
"Are you upset with me?"
"No, not at all. I'll be able to do this...alone."
I ended the conversation without saying goodbye.
Lost, alone, and confused on an island called Matty
shouldn't feel as distant as it did. I look at my car, having it
only to remind me of how alone I really was. I walk down the
street, not really paying any attention to where I was going. I'm
not quite sure what made me more upset, Danny's plans with
Henderson or his reluctance to have anything to do with me or my
Island. Aside from the mini pep-talk he provided, his words
contributed to my inner struggle. The shock that was produced
from my mother's apartment still ran through my veins, causing me
not to place a full grip around the fact that Danny believed that
my family issues had nothing to do with him. In the literal
sense, he was right. But when involved in a relationship, baggage
is shared. Yet, that concept was neither formulated nor
As I continue to walk, my sole concentration was
placed on the isolation.
There it was, the color magenta practically painting
my entire body. My eyes were too dry to cry. My fists were too
weak to grip. My vocal chords were locked in their cage. I wanted
a can of spray paint to spray the entire town black. I wanted to
see an actual color that makes sense.
"Matty?" I stop, look up, and see Tara walking
towards her new Neon."What are you doing here?"
"Just taking a walk round town."
"What in hell brings you home?"
"Oh, well I wanted to see my parents… in their new
settings, meaning my mom. So, yeah, that's what brings me home."
Her perfume travels its way to my nose. She clearly has plans as
well. "I see that you've got plans. Don't let me hold you up.
"Oh, he's got plans too."
"What? Danny boy has other plans and you're here
without him. Ha!" I did not need her to rub it in.
"Yes. Wow, un fucking believable isn't it? Like I
said, have fun." I start to walk away.
"Stop and get back here." I turn around.
"You'll be late."
"I'm already a half hour late. He can wait a little
"Who is he?"
"You're magenta, aren't you?"
"Shut the fuck up Matty. You're practically wearing
the fucking color. Why are you magenta?"
"He'll be waiting all night."
"Is it Danny?"
"No." I lied, a bit.
Tara digs into her purse.
"Hi Brad, it's me. Listen, I'm going to have to
"Shut the fuck up Matty. My friend needs me and quite
frankly she's more important than you."
Tara and I sit in the middle of the violet carpet, with a bottle
of Bacardi Limon, a jug of Iced Tea as the chaser, and a six pack
of Bud light in between us. Like mine, her white walls are
decorated with posters of her favorite bands.
The Grateful Dead stare down at me from the violet
painted wood door. I rotate my eyes to the left, where between
two windows Jefferson Airplane set their abode. The wall where
her bed is placed up against, The Doors and her favorite poet Bob
Dylan, reside. To Tara, music is simply music. Music should not
be put into any category. To me, there is punk and then there is
everything else. Staring at the posters in her room reminded me
of the back and forth, endless conversations of our love and
views on music.
"Here, take one." Tara cracks open a Bud light can
for me. "Since when are you shy when it comes to alcohol?"
The truth was, I was frozen. I didn't know where to
start. Should I start with an immediate apology? Should I start
by giving her a huge bear hug? I was afraid to start. I was
afraid that if I tried too hard, I would only fall through the
ice and drown.
"Jesus Christ Matty." She opens up the bottle of
Bacardi. "Take a fucking shot and just spill it."
I follow her command. She hands over the jug of iced
tea, but I didn't want the chaser. I wanted the alcohol,
straight, to break the ice correctly.
"Before I start venting, let me get this heavy pile
of guilt off of me." She places her hands behind her, ready for
the predicted apology. "Cliché, I get it, but damn it Tara, I'm
fucking sorry. I don't know why I drift myself away, from you
especially. I don't do it intentionally. I don't literally say,
'ignore Tara for such and such of time' and then one day wake up
and say 'oh now it's time for Tara!' Let's be honest, I've been a
mess for almost two years now. The story goes as follows: Once
upon a random fall day, a contently single gal meets the all
American star pitcher. Not even two months pass by and that
once known single gal becomes his Stepford wife. I have almost
lost myself completely, by neglecting everything that is apart of
me. I hardly ever have the chance to listen to my music without
wearing a pair of head phones. Fuck, the only time I am alone is
in my car, and when I'm driving I am too scared to put on any
music, since I'm afraid I'll crash and die if I take my eyes off
of the road for a single second. And, you, my best fucking
friend, I've probably lost you too. I have lost what makes me
Matty Bianco. Who am I?"
Tara takes a swig from the Bacardi bottle.
"Here I go, again, coming to you and venting about my
relationship." She hands the bottle over to me. I hold it to my
lips inhaling the Lemon scent. The devious citrus scent reminds
me that it tastes more like pure toxin. The reminder of the toxic
taste flows through my nostrils and into my brain.
The toxin created a force of reality that can only
strike a human like an animated bolt of lightening. The sound
cracked down upon me producing a wall shattering burst of
thunder. I take a huge swig straight from the bottle, neglecting
the chaser again.
"Holy shit Tara. I need to break up with Danny." She
spit's the Bud light out of her mouth.
"I have to break up with him. I have to." Tara grabs
"Matty, you didn't drink glass upon glass of white
zinfandel with Anne earlier, did you?"
"No, I am sober."
"So what you just said is 100 percent sober talk,
right?" I stare into her huge, serious eyes.
"Yeah. Two swigs of this stuff isn't going to get me
"Ok. I need more than." Tara stops my hand from
grabbing a hold of the bottle.
"Wait. Think about what you just said before getting
drunk." I consider her request
I consider her request by staring at her square in
the eyes. I meant the words I said, but in honor of placing
reason behind them, I needed substance. So, I stand up and walk
on over to the Grateful Dead poster.
"I remember the first time you played me a Grateful
Dead song. We were 11. I didn't get it. I thought the music was
pure, stale noise."
"And I remember thinking, 'what the fuck does she
mean by stale?'."
"Remember back then, Ace of Base was considered
ingenious to me."
"The only pop album you ever bought." I smile at the
band and walk on over to Jefferson Airplane.
"Remember making Hannah, Amber, and I watch VH1"s 100
women of music in the middle of the night?"
"I made you guys stay awake till Grace Slick came up
on the countdown."
"Amber threatened to rip the poster up if 'the bitch'
didn't make an appearance by 4 o'clock."
"And every time she'd close her eyes, I'd grab one of
her beasts." I chuckle in knowing that Tara loved knowing just
what D cups felt like.
"How do they feel?"
"Amber's tits are amazing. They feel like soft,
amazing round pieces of flesh that have so much to play with. The
bitch has no idea what she has."
I smile, moving on over towards the window that faces
the Kirkwood's pool.
"Remember when we thought the whole Kirkwood family
went on vacation?"
"Oh yes, the infamous skinny dipping incident." Tara
had now joined me at the window, with a Bud light in hand. "Jerry
Kirkwood watching us, in the dark from the pool house."
"And assuming he could join in on our fun by jumping
in the pool naked." She put her arm around my waist. "Teenage
boys like to get naked for us, don't they?"
"Seems to be a trend." She rests her head on my
shoulder. "You know you will never loose me as a best friend
"Deep down I knew that. I feared of losing myself and
didn't even realize I was taking it out on the most important
people in my life."
"You didn't realize any of it, meaning the whole
picture. Realistically you knew of your actions, but you were too
Silence hovers as we remain focused, looking out the
"My dad said it best, without even realizing it was
pure advice." I take in a deep breath. "We are too comfortable
"No fucking shit Matty." Tara takes her head off of
my shoulder. "Come on, it's drinking time."
I turn, noticing the Kevin Bacon shrine located
directly above her bed post. There was a new picture added to the
shrine, one of him and Kiera Sedwig, except Tara's senior year
photo was plastered over his wife.
"You finally made yourself Kevin's wife. It only took
you 12 years."
"Well, I've finally realized that I will never find a
man as great as Kevin Bacon. So, I finally settled with a great
man, as I should of a long time ago."
The Bud light and Bacardi revelation help me to
exceed the realization of just how occupied I was by comfort. Of
all the irrational and immature nonsense I lived though for
almost two years, Tara and the rest of my peers had delved into
their youth. I was censored by my own self that I had neglected
to see the honesty.
I woke up that morning with a pounding headache,
Tara's light snore in my ear, my cell phone beeping into my
pounding head, and dogs barking to the beat of my head. I sit up,
immediately remembering the Bud light and Bacardi revelation. I
flip open the cell phone to see that my mom had called once and
Danny had called 12 times. 12 freaking times, that boy broke away
from his plans with his best friend just to hear my voice on the
voice mail. My stomach started to churn.
I call my voice mail. The first message was my mom,
mumbling something incoherently and ending the message with a
very clear, "I love you."
The next message,
"Matty, baby, I miss you. I wish you were here with
"Honey it's me, again. Just wanted to tell you, I
"Matty, where are you? Is your phone dead?"
"Sweetheart, I'm worried. I love you. Where are you?
Are you ok?"
You get the drift.
"He is obsessed. Two nights Danny, that's it. You are
obsessed." I yell all of that into the phone, waking Tara up.
"Shut the fuck up Matty."
"Sorry." I climb out of the bed. "I'll give you a
call tonight. I'll be at my dads."
"You'll be where?"
"Just have your phone on."
I darted for dear life out to the increasing
pounding of my head.