Chapter twenty-five – 365 Days A Year
When I was a little girl, I used to remain perplexed at the end of fairy tales when the princess finally married her prince and everything went well. Because it didn't match with the rest – it didn't match with the life I was having nor the events I was facing. I didn't grow up hoping for a dream to happen. I went ahead of things and never gave up.
The world is harsh – and abrupt – but this is the way I like it to be. I have learned to despise wonderful schemes and beautiful pictures just as I have learned to count on nobody but myself. Because at the end this is what happens: people leave you – little by little – and you are left alone among broken dreams.
Will says very often that I should soften my opinions and begin to rely on others. I can't remain distant any longer or soon enough I will regret it. I hate his moral speeches especially when I know that he is saying the truth.
There is this eloquence in his eyes – an unbearable pride – that make me feel jealous. Yet he knows that I will end up abdicating. Slowly – carefully.
I have already changed – especially those past few weeks.
Yesterday I passed in front of the building I had lived for so long with Stanley on Madison Avenue. It is not that I hadn't walked by it before but this time I stopped and looked at the lobby. The marble floors – the doorman I don't know – and the limousines with chauffeurs parked in front of it. All of this used to be me. It used to be part of my life but yesterday it only looked blurry and in the distance like some sort of a dream I might have had once.
I miss people from my past – starting with Stan – and the gap that at times seemed to separate me from a bunch of bitter memories. Is my current situation better? I don't know. I guess it is simply different - yet addicting. I wouldn't go backwards for anything in the world. What I lived is behind me – floating over like a friendly ghost – and now it is all about Will, about Hannah.
Yes, my life is different – unexpected and hardly comparable to whatever I went through before – but it is mine and just for that, I love it. I love the people who surround me. There might not be any limousine or any penthouse that overlooks Central Park but there are a thousand other things like my family. My very own one. I am lucky. I am happy.
"You are beautiful."
The compliment took her aback and she couldn't help but blush – looking around as if to be certain that nobody had overheard Hannah's words. It had been snowing all day long and now that the moon slowly embraced the city, the streets seemed to be shining under a layer of pure whiteness. The result was a bit enchanting – as if coming from a very far wonderland.
Once she got used to the heat on her cheeks, Karen smiled brightly at her daughter sat in front of her – raised dubious eyebrows. The humidity in the air had probably curled her hair and she was beginning to feel the long hours of the day on her shoulders. She probably looked tired. Yet nonetheless happy.
"Do you know what you are going to order?"
"Of course, I do!"
As Karen's smile suddenly seemed to find an echo on Hannah's lips, Will, Grace, Jack and Leo finally pushed the door of Serendipity and joined them at the table with an exhilaration that had carried them all day long. Was it because of the weather and the first snow of the winter or the celebration in itself? Karen didn't know but she wished time could stop – right at this moment – get suspended if only for a while until she made sure that it was all engraved in her mind. Endlessly.
"Isn't it a bit strange to come and get some ice-cream in the middle of December while it is snowing?"
"It is simply odd to come to Serendipity to celebrate a wedding."
Karen's eyes went from Jack to Grace – following their remarks – but she didn't say a word, shrugged and passed her right hand on her left ring finger to brush for the thousandth time the platinum wedding band.
As if to convince herself that it was true. As if it happened to be the only proof she had. Actually they had only gone to the courthouse in a very unofficial ceremony – signed the papers – and rushed to The Upper East Side for an ice-cream at Serendipity's. And it was perfect like that – with no guest list – but the simplicity and joy of being surrounded by the people they loved the most. In all intimacy.
Hannah had left the therapeutic school for the weekend. It had been a while since the last time – a few months now that she had decided to remain there for a while – but even if the situation was tough and she missed her daughter, Karen had to recognize that everything was going a lot better like that. Maybe soon enough Hannah would be back home. Definitely. Boarding school was not what Karen had had in mind for her child but it seemed pretty alright now.
"So how is it to be Mrs. Truman?"
The instinctive remark made Grace smile – an ounce of bitterness passing through her eyes for a few seconds. It could have been her. It could have been her day. It could have been her wedding. And her name now. Except the story had gone through a completely different scheme. Unexpectedly from the very beginning.
"I don't know..."
Karen started her sentence but stopped halfway and looked around at the faces she knew so well – at a place that carried so much importance for her. Hannah had chosen the restaurant. As a matter of fact, she had insisted – as if to catch back on her missed fourteenth birthday a year ago – as soon as she had arrived to Manhattan the day before.
Perhaps some memories remained in spite of the time – some references and family rituals as well. It made Karen proud and as she took a deep breath, she simply shrugged before looking down timidly at her lap.
"It doesn't change anything... I guess... I guess it is just a lovely sequel."
As her words kept on resounding softly in the air, Karen turned around and planted a kiss on Will's lips. She held his hand - tightly.
Just a lovely sequel. Another part of their story. A new chapter for their family.