Chapter Seven

Blue eyes laughing in the sun
Laughing in the rain
Baby's got blue eyes
And I am home, and I am home again
“Blue Eyes” -Elton John

Usually, plane rides are something I find quite boring. I have this problem with sitting still on planes or in cars for extended periods of time. I can’t seem to keep in one place for too long. On this flight however, the time passed quickly. I guess it was because I spent the whole time mulling over my last fight with my mother. Not just the last one though, the last few fights. They’d all been over dance. I was still confused, how could she think I’d made up what happened at the Éan audition? It made me so angry that she would actually think I was that dishonest, and that bent on ruining her and me both. As my head was filling with all these angry thoughts about my mother, I remembered how she had looked when my dad started the story about my first trip to the airport. It was my fault. I had ruined her life, her dance career. I was the reason she wasn’t doing what she really wanted to be doing. I was so busy reflecting over the events of the past few weeks, I didn’t started the book I had bought in the airport, nor did I look at the folder my mother had handed me as I boarded the plane. I had simply shoved it into my backpack once I sat down. I didn’t even want to look at it, because I was afraid of what might be in it.

When the plane landed at LAX I eagerly peered out the window, looking out at the famous skyline. Los Angeles seemed so exciting to me, so beautiful compared to the flat land of Tulsa. There was so much to see here, so much to do, and it was so different from my home. As I stepped into the terminal I searched the crowd of waiting people for someone I recognized. Suddenly, as I walked just past the group of people I heard a familiar voice, “There’s my Tiny Dancer!”

“Uncle Taylor!” I dropped my bag and ran to him giving him a hug.

“Hey! How was your flight? You look a little tense, was there a lot of turbulence?” I smiled, and shook my head.

“No, the flight was fine; in fact, it seemed much shorter than I remembered it to be.”

“Good then, let’s go get your bags and head to the house shall we?” I picked up my other bag, and making sure I had all my carry on luggage with me, headed toward the baggage claim area my flight’s luggage was to be delivered to. As we made our way to the baggage claim Taylor and I chatted about things, and then, he asked how the Éan Audition went.

“Well...” I started

“Well as in ’it went well Uncle Taylor, I think they’re going to call me and offer a job.’ or Well, as in well, it didn’t go very well at all and I’m stalling?”

“The latter.”

“What happened?” I looked around, desperately trying not to look him in the eye. “Brenna...what’s wrong?”

“Can I tell you in the car? You know...where there aren’t so many people around?” I glanced around at all the people nervously. How embarrassing is it to explain to your uncle that some man made lewd comments about your mother and yourself and your own mother wouldn’t believe you?

He winked at me, “well, I know you’re still stalling, but I guess that’d be all right.”

As was customary to all Hansons at airports, my luggage was one of the lasts to make it round on the baggage claim carousel. I watched as the flowered green suitcases plopped onto the carousel and made their slow journey around to where Taylor and I stood. Once all my bags had been retrieved, Taylor and I walked to where he had parked his car. I still think my Uncle Taylor has one of the coolest cars ever. He drives a 1999 red convertible BMW, and he always tells me “they don’t make em like this anymore.”

Taylor decided that we should take the Pacific Cost Highway to his home in Malibu as opposed to the 405 freeway, which even after all these years he said, was still the bane of all Southern Californians’ existence. As we turned onto PCH, Taylor talked about how different things were here since his first time to Los Angeles. However, he told me, the Pacific Coast was still one of the most beautiful things he’d ever seen in his life. I kept hoping he’d talk more about the ocean, and how Malibu and Hollywood used to look, I kept hoping he’d forget I said I would tell him what happened at the Éan audition. He didn’t forget, and not more than fifteen minutes into our trip he asked again.

“So, are you going to tell me what happened or am I going to have to get Evan to read your diary like he used to do with Vi?” I laughed.

“Nah... it’’s kinda embarrassing, that’s all.” I looked out the window into the side view mirror and watched the hills.

“What happened?” Taylor glanced over at me.

“Well, I guess part of it is my own fault, I didn’t really want to be there in the first place. But, when I got there, the man...the director, his name is Colm Lynch...he was just. He’s such a jerk. He walked around like he owned all of the girls at the audition, and then what he said to me it was horrible!” I felt tears begin to well up inside of me all over again. It wasn’t so much what Colm had said to me that hurt, but that my mother thought I was lying...and that I now knew all the things she had once dreamed, hoped for herself were dashed because of me.

“What did he say to you that was so horrible? Did he say you weren’t good enough for the company or something like that?”

“No...He wanted me to be in the company...but...he insinuated that I would sleep with him... I’m going to be 18 soon that will be the perfect age he said...then he winked at me. And he said he wished he could have worked with my mother, and not just in dancing if I knew what he meant.” I continued to explain what had happened, and how my mother didn’t believe me, and our huge fight.

“Brenna. None of this was your fault, and yes, you didn’t want to be at the audition, but what that man did and said was totally inappropriate, and you had every right to be angry. I’m not sure why your mother didn’t believe you, but obviously that’s something you need to sit down and talk to her about right?” I nodded. “wow... You know, you really could sue him if you wanted to.” I laughed; “I’d never win Uncle Tay.”

“You never know.” And we left it at that.

The rest of the drive was peaceful, we chatted more about things, and Taylor pointed out more beautiful pieces of land that were still intact from the first trip he took down the infamous Pacific Coast Highway.

Even though I’ve spent most of my life landlocked in dustbowl of America, the beach is still one of my favorite places in the whole world. I really think the ocean is something a lot of people take for granted. It’s always there, it never goes anywhere else, and anyone can see it, for free. So, it’s fairly easy to see why most people don’t really care that the moon controls the tides, or that it’s taken the earth millions of years to create the beaches exactly the way they are. Every grain of sand, and every piece of salt, and every drop of water are exactly where they’re supposed to be, exactly when it’s supposed to be there. Sometimes, I wish my life made that much sense.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that drive along PCH to my Uncle Taylor’s house in Malibu. About a million thoughts were running through my head as we went around each winding curve, but I wasn’t weighed down as I had been on the flight here. I felt this unexplainable sense of happiness and freedom, and I let the wind blow along my face and hair, and I was blissfully happy.

I tried to imagine a time when this area looked different. I tried to picture how my father and my uncles saw it on their first trip to Los Angeles, because I wanted to see what they saw. I wanted to be just like them, and at the same time, I wanted to be someone completely different. It had taken us a little over an hour to drive from LAX to where I would be staying for most of the summer, and although my head was swimming in fantasies of warm days at the beach and cool evenings with my cousins, I felt a nagging somewhere in my heart, something that was telling me I was missing something. It felt like a piece of me that didn’t exist.

My cousins, Evan and Viola have to be the luckiest people in the world. They have the coolest father ever, and their house, I wouldn’t even call it a house, it’s more like a compound, is incredible. I couldn’t imagine living here, it seems almost like a dream, a dream I don’t want to wake up from. Yet, if I had to wake up, I would want to remember all of it, in extreme detail. I would want to remember what it was like to walk along the back porch at night, and still feel sand along the floorboards, and how the ocean smells in the morning before anybody is on the beach. This dream, is the most amazing dream I will ever have, and it lasts all summer.

As we pulled up the drive at Uncle Taylor’s house on Malibu Colony Road, I smiled. I hadn’t been here in a few years, and the house looked the same, but also different, and it made me feel very comfortable. I looked up at the front door and saw Evan and Viola standing there waiting for us. When they saw the shiny red car pull into the front drive they came barreling down the front steps and waved to us, banging on the passenger side window. My cousins looked so much older now. Evan, who was two years older than me looked a lot like his mother. My Aunt Beth was my mother’s cousin, so Evan looked similar to me really. People used to mistake us for brother and sister, because Viola looks so much more like her father. There Evan stood, next to the passenger side door, he was tall and thin, with dark hair and green eyes, and next to him, Viola, also tall and thin, but her hair was the color of honey, and her skin was slightly tanner. I looked at my pale arms and legs, it really looked like I hadn’t been out of my house in ages, and sadly it was almost true. When I opened the door and hopped out Evan took me into a big hug.

“Hey! We’ve missed you!” next I was passed to Viola and we all exchanged greetings and chatted about the flight and the drive from the airport as we hauled my luggage into the house.

Stepping into the house is like stepping into another world. I was met by the blast of cool air from a breeze that came in through an open window, and high up on the wall in the foyer was a portrait of our family. The whole Hanson family at our last reunion, the portrait was huge but I could pick out where Evan, Viola and I were standing, in the same grouping. The photographer had mistakenly put me next to Evan thinking he was my brother, leaving the two of us sticking out among a sea of blonde. Of course, our grandfather had dark hair as well, but when this had been taken, his hair was graying and was more of a silvery color than anything else. Then there’s my mother and Aunt Beth, who have auburn hair, who looked just like sisters. So smack dab in the middle of the picture is My father and mother, and next to them Aunt Beth and Uncle Taylor, and directly in front of the adults were Evan, Viola and I. It seemed like that picture had been taken ages ago, I was only about nine years old, and since then so many things have happened. Babies have been born, Children have had children of their own, and Aunt Beth, passed away. It seemed so odd, trying to picture her not in the portrait. Trying to imagine her away is like creating a gaping hole in the picture, but that’s really what her death did. My mother was devastated, I don’t think she fully recovered from it, but Taylor...he’s seemed to have picked up the pieces, slowly but surely, and made things right again. Of course, he still loves her, he’s told my father that many times, and the house is proof positive of that. There are family pictures, and old photos of her all over the house. Not in a frightening shrine like way, but more in a comfortable family remembrance.

With the help of Uncle Taylor, Evan and Viola I got all my luggage to the guest room where I was going to be staying. Taylor knew it was one of my favorite rooms in the house because it was in the back, and it had a beautiful view of the ocean. So, after all my bags had been brought into the room, I simply sat on the bed and looked out the window down at the beach. It was mid afternoon by now and there were plenty of people sitting in the sand and surfing. Even though most of this part of the beach was privately owned by Taylor, he never kept it closed off, he didn’t care who was on the beach so long as they kept it clean.

“I’ll have to introduce you to all the regulars.” Evan said pushing me over slightly and sitting next to me.

“That would be great, I haven’t been outside for extended periods of time in a while.” I laughed.

“I can tell, look at how pale you are...geez, I know you’re Irish, but man, you can do better than that.” we both laughed, because Evan was almost as fair skinned as I was, yet he always managed to have some color to him.

“I have a friend I want you to meet, you’ll like him I’m sure of it.”

“Oh really?” I raised an eyebrow, a boy, this is good. I’m liking this trip already.

“Yeah, he’s a good guy...your mom might even like him. Maybe.” and he laughed and left the room. I smiled, knowing my mother probably wouldn’t like any boys I met here.