Skylar went to the Bay Area to stay with my uncle Mason for a bit. I told her it was best to be around her family during this time, in which she reminded me that I was also family. A part of me felt really guilty though. Skylar only knew Shawn because of Jamie, and Jamie only came out that night because of me. In a way, I feel responsible for Skylar’s broken heart. I didn’t deserve to comfort her. Skylar was perfectly fine living on her own and living the life that was best for her. She had her heart guarded, and as soon as I move in and introduce her to a man affiliated with someone in my past, she got her heart broken. I broke my little cousin, and I feel absolutely shitty for it.
I left to go to the studio earlier than usual this morning. Eduardo of course mentioned it to me, and I tried my hardest to not show him that I was dealing with a lot on my plate. I guess he bought it and was able to get into the studio for the time being. It wasn’t until shortly after the studio door opened again; this time it was Morgan.
“Grace?” Morgan asked. She looked confused, looking at the schedule posted on the wall. “There’s no practice today; what are you doing here?” I turned around and stopped what I was doing. I turn the music off on my phone and take a break.
“Hey, Morgan,” I greeted.
“What are you doing here on a Sunday morning?” she asked again. I’ve known Morgan through my mother. My mom told me that she knew someone in California that ran an academy if I still wanted to dance while I was here. Once I came into the studio that first time, Morgan immediately said I was literally a copy of my mother. Sometimes that bothers me, considering sometimes I feel like the decisions I make are very similar to the ones she made when she was my age.
And this time was no different.
“I was looking for the application for that audition in New York,” I stated. Morgan cocked up her eyebrows as if she was shocked that I was asking about something I was strongly against doing about just a couple of weeks ago. “Are they still holding auditions for the team?”
“They are,” Morgan finally answered. “They start at the end of August.” She shakes her head in confusion. “Why the change of heart?”
“I’m going back to New York to see my daughter,” I began. “Might as well kill two birds with one stone and just audition for the thing.”
“You do know that even auditioning is a high commitment?” Morgan crossed her arms along her chest. “You get invited to audition because it’s most likely they can choose you.”
“And if they do, it’s still my decision whether or not I want to do it,” I answered back. Morgan looked unsure, which isn’t like Morgan at all. She was always coming back with things to say, and I can honestly say this is the first time I ever saw her speechless. I sighed to ease up the tension. “Morgan, I… I really want to try it out. I gotta do something for myself, y’know?”
“I know,” Morgan quickly answered. “But make sure you’re doing this for the right reasons; not because you’re trying to escape something you can’t currently handle.” She walks toward her office and comes back with the paperwork in her hands. She hands it up to me, which I take.
“Good luck, Grace,” Morgan simply said. I nodded as I placed the paperwork near my gym bag and continued to practice in the studio on my own.
“Yeah, mommy’s going to be in New York for a few,” I said on the phone as I sat outside of the cafe on my lunch break. The weather wasn’t too hot today; there was actually a nice breeze coming from the ocean currents that cooled things down.
“Can we go to the park and see the flower garden?” Willow asked. I couldn’t help but smile. I’m making plans to finally see my daughter after 6 months of video chats.
“Of course, we can, sweetie,” I said. “Put your papa on the phone for me. I love you,” I said to Willow.
“I love you too, mommy!” Willow happily said. It’s like a wind of warm air hit my face hearing her say it so confidently. A couple of minutes later, Max speaks on the phone.
“She’s excited you’re coming back,” Max started out. “Are you staying with your parents while you find a place to live when you get back?” The thought didn’t even cross my mind. He thinks I’m going back for good.
“I’m staying with Ari until the audition is over,” I corrected him.
“Audition?” Max seemed completely confused. This was the hardest part about going back to New York: having everyone think you’re coming back for good. I can’t go back for good.
“I’m coming back to New York for this dance audition,” I started to say. “Once that audition is over, I’m coming back to California.”
“But there’s no one in California, Grace,” Max stated.
“My cousin Skylar? Sheesh Max, where do you think I’ve been living for the last 6 months?” I was growing annoyed with him.
“Skylar is an adult, she was fine living on her own before you went there,” Max was trying to fight me on this like he always had. “You really should be here in New York for your daughter,”
“My daughter is completely fine with or without me being in New York; clearly,” I spat.
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Max asked, now mad. Max always got mad at me for the littlest things. When we were together, he could never understand why I did the things I did because he couldn’t imagine himself making those decisions for himself. He quit the law firm once Willow was born; I decided to stay. He put his dreams and himself second once Willow was born; I didn’t. Despite him leaving England and staying in New York for the sake of his daughter, here I was; traveling across the country to California just because New York was too much for me.
“It means she’s doing fine with you and Miriam playing house,” I answered. I was angry at this point. I was coming to New York for this audition and to see my daughter. It shouldn’t matter to Max what the fuck I decide to do with my life; as long as I was still a mother to our daughter, that’s all he should care about.
“You’re her mother for God’s sake,” Max responded. “Do you know how heartbroken she’s going to be when you have to go back? She starts Kindergarten in September–“
“I know she is, Max!” I yelled back. “You don’t think I know that?”
“This is her first time she will be in school for a full day, Grace,” Max emphasized. “She’s going to want the comfort of her mother there when she’s crying and wanting to go home!”
“I’ll be there for when she starts school, Max. The audition doesn’t start until the end of August anyway,” I explained to Max. That was one thing I wasn’t going to allow Max to do: make me feel bad for parenting in a way I feel is best for Willow. I look at the time on my phone before pressing it against my ear again. “Look Max, I have to go; my lunch break is ending soon. I’ll talk to you later; tell Willow I love her.” I look at the boardwalk to see a familiar person walking toward the direction of the cafe. I immediately hung up the phone and kept looking at the person. They stopped once they saw me watching them walk close toward the cafe.
“You have a lot of nerve coming here, Jamie,” I said, not impressed with Jamie’s appearance here at the boardwalk. He sighed, which wasn’t uncommon for him to do, but he also didn’t look like himself. Is this what he sees whenever I’m not feeling myself? To be quite honest, it’s crazy just how much Jamie and I know each other.
“Can we talk? It’s important that I talk to you, “Jamie said.