When I walked into Nana’s house that day, she turned, elbow-deep in flour as she made bread, and said, “You’re home early.”
“I quit.” I took a seat at the table, placed my interlocked hands on its surface, and stared at my peeling nail polish.
“I quit my job.”
“Why would you do that?” Nana wiped her hands on her apron near her hips and went to the sink to wash up. After the water turned off, she grabbed the tea kettle and filled it. I knew what was coming. “We’re going to talk about this over some tea, Ari.”
“Isn’t it a bit hot for, um, hot tea?”
“Fine, then. I’ll make iced herbal tea, but it’s still best to let the water boil on the stove, the tea bag steep, and then add the ice. None of this instant nonsense.” While the kettle warmed, Nana joined me. “Now, what’s this about?”
I pointed at my face, half-smirking.
“Your choice of decoration?”
I laughed. “Yeah, Jeanine didn’t approve. She wanted me to remove it, said it was against the rules or some garbage. I didn’t agree, so I quit.”
“Hmm, seems a bit rash, dear. But then again, you don’t seem that broken up.”
“I thought I might be more upset, but to be honest, I feel free. And if I’m going to be completely honest with you, Nana, I don’t think I want to continue with beauty school, either.”
Nana’s eyebrows rose. “Don’t you think you’re making an awful lot of changes, Ari? I understand if you’re not happy with that way things are going, but too much change too quickly is, well, not healthy.”
I laughed humorlessly. “Don’t I know it? Don’t we both know it? What choice did we have when my parents died, Nana? None. I wanna make some choices that are gonna have a better effect on my life. Example–my whole relationship with Brad was coming apart at the seams for years. I was living in his shoes.”
Nana chuckled. “I never really cared for that boy, but I tolerated him because I thought you liked him. He never stayed for dinner. A man who doesn’t like my cooking automatically gets a lower grade in my books.”
I laughed at her spunk. “Oh, Nana.”
Just then, the kettle whistled. Nana stood and took care of making iced tea the right way. We enjoyed her creation and further conversation. I then helped her bake vegan bread, which was something I’d never done. It was a lot of work, but something was therapeutic about it. By the end of the afternoon, we had three loaves, one of which we used with dinner.