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Nov. 27th, 2016 03:32 pm
smackenzie: (faye)
[personal profile] smackenzie
She lied and said she had a boyfriend. He said he didn't care.

She told him she wasn't interested. He tried to convince her to be. She resisted the urge to kick him with her pointy dancing shoes.

Eventually Adam's sister, of all people, came to her rescue.

“She said she has a boyfriend, Wyatt,” the sister insisted. “Leave her alone.”

“I understand why you were wary of the groomsmen,” Sadie said to Henny. “Do they not understand 'no'?”

“I think most of them do,” Henny said, “if you get can get them to shut up and stop staring at your legs for long enough.”

“But you have nice legs!”

“But I have a nice young man too. He's coming to the rehearsal dinner tomorrow. You can meet him.”

Sadie got back to her parents' house at what was to her a strangely early hour, but she was out in the sticks now and they rolled up the carpets early. She found she didn't mind – she was tired from the train trip and Edith was awake anyway and wanted to know what the club was like and what were the groomsmen like and was Sadie interested in any of them? Sadie just laughed and said no, they were too slick for her, and she didn't even know if any of them were Jewish.

It was likely that at least one of them was. From her experience, Jews found each other wherever they were – hadn't she found Victor in the depths of Greenwich Village? - and big-city lawyers shouldn't be any exception.

The next day Sadie went to the bakery to see her uncle and her grandmother – Aunt Minnie was still home staying off her ankle, so that would be the next stop – Uncle Samuel just wanted to know how business was in New York and if she could get good babka there (she lied and said no), and Grandma made Sadie sit on a stool in the back of the kitchen, out of the way, and tell her everything. Sadie couldn't tell her everything, but she could talk about her friends and her job and her side business selling dress patterns and her even more side business making clothes on commission, and she talked about the theater, which seemed safe because she knew Grandma loved the movies, melodramas and comedies especially.

Of course Grandma wanted to know if Sadie had met anyone, and Sadie said yes, she thought so, and Grandma just beamed over her cake batter and said Sadie should bring him home so he could meet the family, and where were his people from? What did he do?

For all that her mother and grandmother seemed to have the same end game – matching her up with a prospective husband – there was a lot less tension talking to her grandmother about it. Grandma wanted her to find a man who would be good to her and make her happy. There was never any question in Grandma's mind that he would be a nice Jewish boy, so that never even came up. She just assumed. It was strangely soothing to be able to talk about Alistair and Leo in ways that made both of them sound desirable, without bothering to mention that her relationship with Alistair had been a mix of platonic and sexual, and her relationship with Leo didn't even have a name yet.

And it was much easier to fudge some details and let Grandma think she was ready to get married, should her relationship with Leo progress that far. Sadie didn't feel the same antagonism towards her that she felt towards her mother. Besides, Grandma would interrupt herself – or Sadie – to talk about food, and the way to a man's heart was through his stomach, and Sadie should make this and this, but maybe not that, if she wanted to win a man's affection. Sadie allowed as how she'd made chicken soup for her friends and pineapple upside-down cake for her upstairs neighbor – he was so skinny, she said, he needed someone to feed him – she made challah when she had time, because kneading it was soothing even if her braids were always lopsided, and she'd gotten compliments on her spice cake but it wasn't as good as Grandma's.

Grandma took Sadie's face in her tiny flour-covered hands and kissed her on both cheeks and said she was very special and boys should be lining up all the way down the street for the privilege of courting her.

Sadie eventually left the bakery with a bag of day-old bread her mother should make into bread pudding, and another bag of cookies for Edith and Sadie and their father. Jonathan was a great help, Uncle Samuel had said, but he kept trying to eat the baked goods, so Sadie shouldn't let him eat any of the cookies she was taking home.

Sadie swung by her aunt and uncle's house to see her Aunt Minnie, who was much more direct than Grandma had been and much more understanding than Mom had been.

“Of course you need to cook for your man,” she said. “But you should laugh at his jokes and flash a little leg” - here she looked pointedly at Sadie's knees, just visible under the hem of her skirt - “and flirt. Let him think you'll give him a wedding night he won't forget. But I know you modern girls – don't give him anything before then. Let him imagine, but not even a taste.”

Sadie bit back a snicker. If only Aunt Minnie knew what she's given away, and what she'd let Alistair taste. What she'd tasted herself.

“You'll introduce him to us when you're ready.” She bit into her brisket – Sadie had come just in time for lunch – and added “But don't wait too long.” She winked. “Have fun, bubbeleh. You only get to be young once.”

It was the most relaxing and most reassuring day Sadie would have the entire time she was back.

She met Henny's nice young man at the rehearsal dinner, after the wedding party had zipped through the rehearsal, and decided he was indeed very nice and Henny should be happy with him. She even told Henny in the powder room that he was a good choice, and while they shouldn't rush into anything (Like Rose, they both added in a whisper) they made a nice couple.

The rehearsal dinner once again ended in dancing, during which Sadie thankfully did not have to fend off any of Adam's friends, and an admonishment to get a lot of sleep in preparation for the wedding.

Sadie's father was awake when she got home, but because he was looking for a midnight snack and not because he'd been awake the whole time. He just told her not to tell her mother that he was eating leftovers so late.

The wedding was, as Sadie suspected, traditional and lovely. Adam was unsurprisingly handsome in his tuxedo and Rose was beautiful in her cream satin dress, and the bridesmaids' dresses had all been made with a good amount of skill. (Sadie knew that just because a girl had the right pattern, the right fabric, and a good sewing machine, that didn't mean she knew how to put a dress together. And Sadie could tell when a dress had been made by someone who didn't really know what she was doing.) Either they were all skilled with a sewing machine, or they'd gotten someone else to make their dresses.

Not that it mattered – no one looked at the bridesmaids anyway.

Rose was luminous, pride and self-satisfaction so plain on her face it was as if a billboard with blinking lights hung over her head. Sadie still thought she and Adam had rushed into this, but Rose would never admit she'd made a mistake – if it turned out to have been a mistake – and it was hard to begrudge a girl her happiness on her wedding day.

They danced and ate and ate and danced and drank from flasks and bottles of sacramental wine, and the men who hoisted the bride and groom up on chairs bounced them around and paraded them around the room without a stumble.

The party went on even after Rose and Adam left, although it didn't continue for more than an hour, and afterwards Ida whispered to Sadie that Henny was having a get-together at her house and they were all going. So the celebrating moved to Henny's parents' house, or at least the young people's celebration moved to the house, where there was more dancing, bootleg liquor, and cake. Sadie let the groomsman who was so interested in her kiss her, but when he tried to push the issue, she pushed him away. He was drunk and annoyed but there were other girls there, and some of them might let him get away with more than Sadie would.

In a way it wasn't much different than house parties she'd been to back in the Village, with people dancing and chatting and drinking and eating and making plans and making assignations. But it wound down earlier, and if they'd wanted to go somewhere else, their options were much more limited. She doubted anywhere like Lucy's or the Pepper Pot had opened up here in the time she'd been gone.

She overheard one of the groomsmen complaining about the quality of girl on offer, although he was quickly shushed by one of his friends. She just grinned to herself and thought “You're no great prize either, my man”. Sophisticated and well-dressed as he was, she'd take any one of the boys roaming Greenwich Village over him. This guy might have enlightened ideas about dating and courting, but he still wanted a stylish, pretty girl who would keep his house and raise his children and not expect much more for herself than that. And that was not at all the kind of man Sadie wanted.

Henny's nice young man drove her back to her parents' house at Henny's request. Henny said it was wonderful to see her, she should come visit more often - “You should come see me!” Sadie interrupted to say – she should have a safe trip back to New York, they should keep in touch, there had to be a nice young man for her in the city. Sadie just kissed her on the cheek and thanked her for all the rides, then she thanked the nice young man for the ride, and then she got out of the car and went inside.

Edith was still awake, unsurprisingly, and wanted all the details of the after-wedding party and the men from New York and had Sadie met anyone and how were the drinks and did she teach everyone any new city dances and on and on and on. Sadie told her what she wanted to know and admonished her for staying up.

“I'm not a child,” Edith protested. “I'm fifteen! This is probably early for you, anyway.”

Sadie looked at her watch. It wasn't even two.

“Ma says I might be able to visit her cousin Lily over the summer,” Edith went on. “I want to see you and meet your friends.”

“You'd like them,” Sadie said. “You're too young for them – we wouldn't take you to speakeasies, don't get your hopes up – but they'd like to meet you too. I could take you around the city. It will be fun.”

“I said they could send me for my birthday.” Edith beamed as if this was the most brilliant, foolproof idea she'd ever had. “I'll be sixteen. That's old enough to take the train by myself.”

Sadie couldn't argue with that. Her sister seemed very young, much younger than she remembered,but maybe it was less that Edith was young and more that Sadie had gotten older. She certainly felt more mature. She fell asleep wondering where she could take Edith over the summer, if their parents did indeed let her visit – a trip to see cousin Lily was possible, but Sadie was sure a trip to see her would be out of the question – if the theater would be putting on a play it was ok for Edith to see, or if anyone would have a gallery show that would be appropriate. The chance that Carroll's photographs would still be hanging was small, but Marianna or Addy might have a show, and if nothing else, Sadie could show Edith the mermaid mural in Gigi's bedroom.

But by the time she left for the train station the next say, she knew there was no possibility Edith would ever come see her, unless it involved sneaking out and disappearing for a week without anyone noticing.

Sadie's mother, who had been passive-aggressive about Sadie's life in the big city, and Sadie's father, who had been silent, had apparently had a conversation about Sadie without her, and told her in no uncertain terms that they'd heard things – from Rose and Ida's mother, evidently, which just made Sadie wonder what the twins had been telling people, and how accurate those things were – how could they know about Alistair? - and she was ruining herself and her chances, she was going to shame them, she was becoming a terrible influence on her sister and brother, and they wanted her to come home. She was running loose in the city, without her friends from home, taking up with strange men and stranger women, living a life apart from her own people, without any responsibility towards the people who raised her.

Rose and Ida hadn't known the details of her relationship with Alistair, but had put little bits of information together – information she'd given them, or that they'd gleaned from the few times they came to see her in her own neighborhood – and while they hadn't come up with “She's sleeping with the goyische playwright upstairs”, they did know she was living a free, unfettered life with her free, unfettered, wild bohemian friends. They knew she had a stable, normal job, although they still couldn't understand why she'd traveled all the way to New York City just to work for a tailor, but they also knew she intended to parlay that job into a business, and that she intended to keep working even after she eventually married, not because she had to, but because she wanted to. They knew she had no desire to get married yet, or to even look for someone she might marry in future. They knew she saw modern art and avant-garde theater and stayed out late dancing to jazz bands and drinking bootleg liquor. They could guess at what they didn't know, and they could share with their sisters and their mother and their friends that they were a little worried she was going to come to a bad end.

And she hadn't even been in the city a whole year.

So Sadie's mother repeated what Rose and Ida's mother had told her, and Sadie's father laid down the law – come home now or don't come back.

“Then I guess you won't see me,” she said, completely unable to believe that her parents would cut her out over such vague suspicions. They didn't know everything, and what they did know was half rumor. “Is it because I'm living my life for myself, and not for you? Because I don't care how it looks that I live on my own and I'm not looking for a husband and I make my own money for myself? Because I can go where I want and do what I want and see who I want?”

“Your father and I worry about you,” her mother said.

“You let me go there!”

“We expected you to find a nice job and meet some nice people and be young for a little while before you came home.”

“I did all those things! I have a job that's going to help me. I'm selling my own dress patterns. I'm trying to get my act together enough to open my own dress shop. I've made some good friends and seen and done some great things. I'm so happy. I have the life I want. And I haven't even been there a year! Imagine what I can do in another ten months.”

“You can do that here,” her father said. “Mr Roskoff will hire you again if you must work in a tailor's shop. You can sell your patterns here.”

“But I can't meet the people I've met. I can't – you don't understand. Everything's so new and exciting. I'm living in the future! Or near enough. It's a whole new world, Dad, and I get to live in it.”

Her parents glanced at each other and Sadie realized that they didn't trust the new world. They didn't trust her. Why did they even let her go to New York a year ago, if they didn't trust her to live there?

She pushed her chair back from the table and stood up. “I'll call Henny and ask her to take me to the train station. Tell everyone – I don't care what you tell them. Tell them I went home.”

She called Henny, who was surprised that Sadie's parents weren't taking her to the station to say goodbye, and then she finished packing, apologized to Edith and Jonathan for not staying longer, said goodbye to them, and took her suitcase outside to wait.

Henny asked why Sadie's parents weren't taking her to the station, and Sadie just said that they didn't want to. Henny would no doubt hear soon enough – word would travel from Sadie's mother to Rose and Ida's mother, to Rose and Ida, to Henny and everyone else Sadie knew.

She knew her parents disapproved, and she knew they didn't love that she was determined to stay in New York and make her own life, but she hadn't ever expected to have to make this choice. It was by far and away the most selfish choice she thought she'd ever make – her own happiness, her own freedom, over her family and the people who'd raised her. The people she knew still loved her.

But there were people who loved her in New York. She'd made a life there, and in a way it was better than the life she'd left behind, because it was a life she chose. Everything she had, she'd worked for. She couldn't quite say she'd earned the right for Gigi to ask her to move in, months and months ago when Gigi did, but she'd definitely earned the right to stay. She'd earned her friendships and she accepted the consequences of the unconventional things she'd done – posing naked in front of a camera, sleeping with Alistair, drinking to excess, dancing until late, ignoring the Jewish holidays. (She'd fasted for Yom Kippur, but she hadn't found a synagogue to attend, and she hadn't lit candles for Hanukah, and while she might keep Passover, and she might be motivated enough to ask Victor if he knew a seder she could attend, she wasn't going to go out of her way.) But she thought about it on the train, and she decided she could at least try to be a little more observant. It was all she had of home, now, and by the time the train pulled into Grand Central she'd realized that she wasn't quite ready to get rid of everything.

Maybe she could be a better and more observant Jew. She'd left everything else behind, including her family, but she thought she might miss that. Perhaps she wasn't willing to cut every tie after all.

Victor and Gigi met her at the station, surprisingly. Sadie had forgotten she'd told Gigi when she was coming home. They asked her how the trip was, what it was like to see her family again, was the wedding beautiful, but all she said was “I'm not ready to talk about it, can we just go home.”

It was a few days before she could really tell Gigi what had happened, how her parents had basically cut her out of the family because she wouldn't come back for good. Gigi held her and soothed her while she cried, and Gigi said “We'll be your family”, and Sadie said they already were, and she loved Gigi, and she still couldn't believe her parents had done that to her.

“They don't understand,” Gigi said gently. “They can't let you be yourself. They don't know how to let you live your own life.” She kissed the top of Sadie's head. “They probably still love you, they just don't want you to know.”

“They'll have turned everyone against me,” Sadie sniffled. “My aunt and uncle, my cousins, my grandmother! My little sister.”

“Pfft. Your grandmother still loves you. It's a grandmother's prerogative to ignore her children in favor of her grandchildren. My gran always does. Are you happy here? Would you be happy if you gave all this up and went back to live with your parents?”

“Oh god, no. I'd be miserable. I can't leave this place. I can't leave you and Victor and Alistair and Addy and Layla and your theater and Mr Tartikoff, he'd be so upset – Mrs Tartikoff wants to marry me off, but to someone in her neighborhood, not someone my parents would choose – I can't. This is, this is where I want to be. I can be the person I want.”

“You made the right decision, my darling. You know you did.”

“I know. I just... I wish I didn't have to.”

“I know.” Gigi kissed the top of Sadie's head again and then lifted her chin to look her in the eyes. “You're going to do great things, Sadie. You know you are. And you and I and Victor might be the only people who thinks they're great, but trust me, you'll make something of yourself. And you couldn't do it back home.”

Sadie tried to smile. Gigi really was the best of friends. “This is home,” she said. And Gigi laughed and kissed her on the mouth and said she loved her, and did she want to go out, after the show tonight they'd put on something pretty and go dancing.

So that night Sadie and Victor met Gigi and Roman and Alistair and Layla and half the cast and crew from the theater, and they went from place to place to find the best music and the least offensive drinks, and it was near sunrise when Sadie finally made it home, her feet sore and her steps unsteady but her heart light. The last thing she expected was for Alistair to come inside with her, but he did, and she'd drunk too much to tell him no. They didn't do anything besides sleep, and even though she knew she'd regret letting him do even that, even though wasn't sorry she'd broken it off with him because she really was interested in Leo, as uncertain as that future was, she also still loved waking up with her head on Alistar's chest and his arm around her. But she still sent him back to his own apartment when he was finally conscious.



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