Jelly-filled baked goods
Ignorance-exposing parlor games
Answering the telephone
Take jelly, for example. I like jelly. Jelly, I have no problem with you. But when you take a perfectly nice layer cake and you put jelly in the cake, something terrifying happens. I first realized this as a little girl, and I’ll tell you that it shook me to the core. As a result, I swore off all birthday parties for fear of another dreaded jelly cake encounter. As the invitations rolled in, my mother’s tried-and-true persuasion methods (bribery, threats) fell on deaf ears. She grew desperate. Finally, standing before me, my mother picked up the telephone and jabbed at the rotary dial in utter frustration.
“Hello, Mrs. Weintraub?”
“Yes, hi - it’s Persephone’s mother. We were just talking about the little party you’re having for Moses and…”
“Oh yes. Yes. Mrs. Weintraub, we were just wondering if you are going to serve jelly cake.”
“No? Well, that’s just excellent. Please count us in.”
Click. Problem solved.
But it was all a ruse, you see. It was a fake – an imaginary phone call, and even I knew it in my four-year old heart. But seeing my mother go through those incredible acrobatics to trick me made me realize that sometimes you just have to strap one on and face the jelly cake.
When Fauxhawk and I got back together in September, the idea of cohabitation became the jelly cake of my adult life. I feared it. I avoided it. I made excuses, I dodged. Having spent my entire life in shared spaces, first as a child sharing my bedroom with two older brothers and then later, with roommates, it would seem that setting up shop with my beloved boyfriend would be an easy transition - and for most people, it would be. But if you are a person who is petrified of jelly cake, if you are someone who has trouble trusting boyfriends with your happiness - the very idea of cohabitation causes a kind of silent, deadly implosion - the kind of reaction that makes your boyfriend feel wretched and then drop the subject altogether.
And then, at some point, something odd happened. I’m not sure when, but I stopped living at my apartment. I just stopped going there. Instead, every day after work I took the train to Brooklyn to Fauxhawk’s little apartment, which felt warmer and more alluring than my own. And so, I fell asleep there. I woke up there. I cooked, I cleaned, I entertained, I decorated there. My life gradually shifted its center of gravity. Without even noticing, I was living with Fauxhawk.
All the while, Fauxhawk welcomed me and watched quietly as the scene unfolded, as his house unconsciously—and organically—became our house. Somehow, Fauxhawk knew what I needed. And what I needed was a series of small gestures – to dip a toe in here, an elbow in there. What I needed was trickery – or rather, to trick myself into being brave until fifteen boxes of books, two parking tickets and eighty-nine trips up five flights of stairs later, I became an official Brooklynite this weekend.
Still, the move wasn’t easy, because of that other little thing on the list I avoid: change. This is because buried inside me is Mrs. Schwartzfarb, an eighty-nine year old woman who eats the same Progresso soup every day in the same house she grew up in surrounded by all of her glorious stuff. Despite the happiness I felt about making this move official, the process of uprooting my life – of actually leaving my dingy apartment in my dingy neighborhood in Queens for good was somewhat panic-inducing. I won’t mention the meltdown in the car, or the fights I picked with Fauxhawk. I won’t mention the extreme irritability. I won’t mention it because it was just Mrs. Schwartzfarb vocalizing. She finally piped down when I repeated what my dad always says to me:
Strap one on and face the jelly cake.
And soon as she did, Mrs. Schwartzfarb noticed that her stuff looked pretty good with Fauxhawk’s stuff. She noticed that there was room for more of her in his life – and that there was room for more of him in hers.
Photograph of my old neighborhood in Queens by Slice.