The Moment I Knew I Was Different (Or Maybe Just Weird)

A few days ago, I sat across from my nail technician, Annie*,  at Pinky's New York, a nail salon with multiple locations in the city. I've been coming to this salon since I was 12 years old, only interrupted by my years in college and law school, so she's more my friend than anything. We're only 4 years apart so we usually end up laughing hysterically through most of my appointments, gossiping about this and that and telling stories about my lovely, but hilarious, father who also gets pedicures at the salon. Over 10 years ago when I discovered this salon location in Upper West Side, my parents didn't know a thing about this place. But now, my dad pretends as though  Annie is his. I occasionally remind him that I knew her first and best, but I doubt he hears a word of it. That's neither here nor there.

So a few days ago, Annie got to talking about how I was years ago, barely a teenager but stomping through the city like it was mine for the taking. I don't doubt that anyone I encountered saw right through this guise to the scared, little girl I really was, but Annie says it didn't matter. "You were just so different," she said. I thought about it for a minute while she filed my fingernails to the perfect length and shape without needing my approval. She knew me so well, maybe even better than I thought. "I don't know if I was different or just weird."

She looked up at me with an exasperated look, lightly blowing her honey blonde bangs from her forehead, and smiled. I smiled back. "I guess I was always a little different, even at a very young age." Annie didn't look up but stopped filing for a moment, waiting for me to continue. "I remember my father being called into school for a parent-teacher meeting for something I'd said during class. The teacher had asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, and was giving each child a turn to tell the rest of the class. Most of the girls talked about weddings and babies and dogs and houses and pretty things," I said, and looked at Annie as she had stopped moving and was staring at me anticipating my next sentence but also expecting it. "Me?," I continued, "Well I told her that I wanted to be a rockstar. That I wanted to have a baby daughter that would stand on stage and cling to my leg as I sang my hit songs. And I wanted to travel from city to city so everyone could hear my voice and see my baby. And that was it."

My Dreams. Age 6. | Photo Credit

I thought Annie was going to die, as she dropped her head to the table and laughed until her face turned bright red. "The teacher didn't find it so funny, Annie. She was concerned that I didn't exhibit proper family values. And when she asked me what happened to the father and whether we'd ever go live in a house with him, I said "He doesn't matter really and no, my daughter and I would live in my dressing room backstage and eat microwaved pizza everyday"." Once Annie gained some sort of composure, she asked "And what did your father say?" I pursed my lips at her. "You know what he said. He muttered under his breath 'my girl' before telling the teacher that he would talk to me about saying such things aloud."

And then, Annie and I laughed. We laughed so hard, she had to repaint my index fingers and wipe the tears from my eyes.