A little piece of home

The three weeks until my parents arrived flew by after the „Inge incident“. Sasha was as sweet as he could be once again bringing me flowers at every chance he got and a day before my parents arrived he went shopping to make them a big German/Russian breakfast. He even set the table the night before so he would have more time in the morning to pick them up. Their flight arrived at 7 in the morning, usually a time we spend either still fast asleep or frantically searching for keys or a cell phone. Since it would take them another hour or so to get through customs and get their bags we decided it would be enough time if we left the apartment at seven. Usually I set the alarm but this time Sasha told me that he was going to do it and let me sleep a little longer while he was getting everything done. When I climbed into bed with him I felt a flutter in my stomach. I had been nervous the entire day but it really hit me just now that my parents were going to be here tomorrow. It felt like an eternity that I hand’t seen them. I was nervous about what they were going to say about Sasha and our new apartment and my new life here in Germany. I was also excited to show them around the city and all the cool new places that I had discovered and I was sure they were going to love. I was also looking forward to showing them my new wardrobe and therefore the improved, more sophisticated version of me. I had spend a hour putting together the perfect outfit for tomorrow and had carefully arranged it on the little chair by the foot of the bed. Sasha hugged me tight and kissed me good night. I went to sleep with a warm feeling of joy in the pit of my stomach.

I opened my eyes at exactly 7.31 am. „Fuck!“ I said out loud, shaking Sasha hard. „Fuck, Sasha, it’s 7.31. What the fuck? Didn’t you set the alarm?“ He was still half asleep looking at me through a curtain of hair. „What?“ „Sasha, we are fucking late. Get out of bed.“ I threw the blanket back and grabbed my clothes from the chair. Sasha still didn’t move. „Sasha, come on, my parents have already landed, we overslept.“ Finally it seemed to hit him „Oh fuck, ok. I will be ready in 10 minutes.“ Sasha jumped out of bed and into the bathroom. „He better not take a shower now.“ I thought to myself just as I heard the water running. „Sasha, we don’t have time for that. Come on, seriously. Brush your teeth and lets go.“ I pushed the handle but the door was locked. „FUCK!“ I screamed louder than necessary. My clothes still in my hand I grabbed my cell phone which already had two new messages „Already landed. Looking forward to seeing you soon.“ and the second one: „Customs was really fast today, looks like we will be early. But don’t worry, we will grab a coffee and wait.“ „Shit, shit, shit, shit.“ I was a both seriously mad at Sasha and panicky that my parents would be waiting forever. A drive to the airport that time of day could definitely take up to an hour. I could already see them sitting there with their finished coffee, totally jet lagged and hating Sasha before they even got to know him. It was clear that I was going to have to take the blame. I threw my cell phone on the bed and basically jumped into my clothes when Sasha finally came out of the bathroom. „Would you just chill please?“ „No I won’t! We are so late and my parents are already out of customs and I am not even dressed yet. How can I chill?“ „There is nothing we can do about it now, can we. Just get ready and we will go.“ „What do you think I am trying to do?“ I spat the words at him and slammed the bathroom door. How could he be so nonchalant about us being late when it was his fault and not his parents? I brushed my teeth and threw some water in my face. I wouldn’t have time for a shower so I just put my hair in a bun, slapped on some tinted moisturizer and mascara and left the bathroom. Sasha was in the kitchen taking a hit from his joint. „Are you fucking serious right now? „I just told you to chill. I need to relax a bit. You are driving me crazy.“ „Sasha, I am leaving now are you coming or not?“ „Yeah, yeah.“ He took another drag and put the joint out hiding the ash tray in one of the kitchen cabinets. When we were finally in the car my hands were shaking as I put the keys into the ignition. „Why don’t you let me do it?“ Sasha asked sweetly and I threw the keys in his lap. „Fine.“ I got out and walked around the car, Sasha doing the same thing only to grab me half way and hug me tight. „Let’s not fight, ok?“ I didn’t want to fight but I didn’t want to make up either, especially not now. „Fine“ I said again and freed myself from his arms. I slammed the car door as I got in and Sasha clearly wasn’t happy about it. „I am sorry, I must have set the alarm for the wrong time. I checked and it was set for 7.45 instead of 6.45. Is it really that big of a deal?“ „It is to me Sasha and you know it! Especially since I always do it and this time you insisted you take care of everything.“ „Sorry I was so busy making breakfast and preparing the apartment for your family.“ He pouted. „Yeah, I know that was sweet but still. I don’t want to be late. They are exhausted and tired and we can’t have them wait for us for hours.“ „Man, they have only waited for a couple of minutes so far. I will drive and we’ll be there in no time.“ He put his hand on mine and smiled at me. „Ok, but hurry. And I left my phone on the bed so can I use yours to quickly text my parents and let them know we are running late?“ „Sure, sweetie.“ I took his phone and looked over to him. He was fumbling with the volume on the radio so I quickly checked the alarm setting on his phone. The only alarm that had been set was one for 8.15.

I texted my parents that we would be there in half an hour and prayed for the best. Sasha managed to navigate through traffic quickly and I was still contemplating on whether to say something about the alarm clock or just ignore it. Maybe he had forgotten to set the alarm but didn’t want to admit it. Or he had deleted the one that he had wrongly set. I didn’t want any more drama just before my parents arrived so I decided not to say anything but I couldn’t help but feeling like something about this had been deliberate even though I couldn’t figure out why.

My parents were very understanding about waiting. I told them that I must have set the wrong time on the clock and that the traffic here had been horrible and Sasha didn’t correct me. They looked exhausted but well. When I hugged my mom and breathed in her signature scent I started welling up. „I am so happy that you are here.“ I whispered and totally forgot about all the worries that I had before their arrival. Sasha was standing behind me looking a little unsure of what to do. After I had hugged my dad too I turned around and waved Sasha over. „Come on baby, don’t be shy. Meet my parents.“ „Hi Mr and Mrs Grant, it is very nice to meet you.“ Somehow his accent sounded more Russian to me than it usually did. „Hello Alexander, it is very nice to meet you too.“ My dad shook his hand and Sasha seemed surprised that he had used his formal name. I had only told them about it once but somehow my dad had remembered. My mom was a little less formal and hugged him tight. Sasha was stiff as a board but when he saw me laughing I could see him loosening up. „Hello Sasha it is so good to finally meet you in person. Emma has told us so much about you already. As you probably know we weren’t too happy about the whole thing in the beginning but after everything our daughter said we are so glad that we finally get to meet you here.“ I put my hand on my mothers arm to stop her from rambling on like she usually did when she felt uncomfortable. „Shall we go?“ Sasha smiled and took both their suitcases. „Oh don’t worry, I can do that“ my dad interrupted but Sasha just told him that it was their vacation and that we were going to take care of them as best as we could. Even though the day had started quite chaotic we had managed to turn it around.

My parents were impressed with Sasha’s breakfast and they didn’t stop telling him so. I was glad that Sasha didn’t know them too well because my mom was so over the top enthusiastic it felt like she was one of those teleshopping queens trying to sell useless crap to old ladies. „Sasha this has been so wonderful. Thank you so much for inviting us into your lovely home.“ „Mom, stop it.“ I hissed and elbowed her while we were putting away the dishes. „What? It was.“ „You know what I mean.“ I didn’t have time to elaborate as Sasha came up behind me and kissed me on the cheek. „Thank you Mrs Grant for having the most wonderful daughter in the world.“ My mom blushed. I had never seen her do that and it made me feel uncomfortable. „Ok, guys. I am sure you must be tired from the flight. Do you want to rest here for a little while or go back to your hotel to freshen up?“ As happy as I was to see them but I needed a couple of minutes to adjust to this new Stepford wife of a mother. „I think we will go back to the hotel and meet up with you kids after lunch? What do you think?“ Luckily my dad was his old self. A little grumpy but never rude. „Sounds good, dad.“ My mom kissed both of us on both cheeks before she left, something she had also never done in my entire life and Sasha offered to drop them off at their hotel. „No, no, it’s just around the corner, we will walk.“ „But I insist on taking your bags downstairs.“ He came back five minutes later with a smile on his face. „That went well I think, yes?“ „Yeah, I think so too.“ „A lovely lady, your mom.“ „Yeah sorry for her being so chipper, she isn’t usually like that.“ „I liked her.“ „Well I am glad you did. What do you think should we clean up and get ready since we didn’t really have time this morning?“ „I’d rather go back to bed for a little while.“ His tone was insinuating. I didn’t really feel like laying down now since I hadn’t showered yet and I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my parents so I was thinking about going over to the hotel a little earlier to have lunch with them. Sasha had already taken off his shirt and looked at me as if to say „what are you waiting for“. Half an hour probably wouldn’t do any harm and besides I wanted to thank him for the wonderful breakfast he made and all the effort he put into impressing my parents. „Alright, half an hour.“ I grinned and joined him in bed.


It was 12.30 when I finally made it out of bed and into the shower. I go ready quickly and put on the outfit from before. Sasha was still in bed when I got out of the bathroom. „So I am going over to have lunch with my parents. Do you want to join us after?“ „Yeah, sure. You don’t want me to come?“ „If it’s ok with you I would just like to have an hour with them alone.“ As soon as I said it I knew this information wouldn’t sit well with him. „Yeah sure, I understand.“ he said to my surprise and kissed me on the cheek. „Have fun. I will be there around 2 or so.“

When I left the apartment I felt like I really breathed for the first time that day, even maybe that week. I inhaled the fresh air deeply and it was somewhat freeing that I got to do something without Sasha for once. I really loved him but sometimes the time we spend together could make me feel a little suffocated. Like I couldn’t even hear my own thoughts because he was asking me about them so frequently or the way I wasn’t able to decide what I wanted to do because I felt like it always had to be something that pleased him too. Sometimes I felt like I was living a life of someone else. A more fabulous life for sure but not really mine.

***

When I got to the hotel I spotted my parents in front of the check in desk. „So which restaurant would you recommend if we want to invite someone that is used to more fancy food?“ I heard my mom say. „Hey mom, hey dad. I decided I am going to join you for lunch.“ My dad turned around. „That’s wonderful sweetie.Let me hug you again.“ And he did. „Will Sasha be coming too?“ my mom asked. „No he’ll join us later, I think.“ „How wonderful.“ I let the comment slide deciding that it was still referring to me deciding to surprise them. We went to a traditional Bavarian restaurant that my parents knew from their previous visits to Munich. Even though my mom still seemed to be holding back something she finally was more herself and less plastic Barbie doll then earlier today. „So what’s new with you guys?“. „Oh well, nothing you don’t know already. We see Vicky all the time. She misses you, even though I know you guys don’t really speak all that much anymore.“ My mom took a bite of her dumpling and looked at her plate. „Yeah, I miss her too.“ I didn’t want to comment on any thing else she said. „We are looking forward to seeing Peter and Stefanie tomorrow. You are joining us, aren’t you?“ I had absolutely forgotten about my family. I hadn’t seen them in such a long time, I wasn’t sure they even wanted to see me now. „Um, I am not sure?“ I said. „Of course she is.“ My dad winked at me, he hadn’t realized how uncomfortable I felt. My mom shot him a look that could have either meant to leave me alone or to pursue the issue further but I wasn’t sure which it was. „Ok then it’s settled,“ she said. We spoke a little about my aunt and uncle and how they were so proud of Anna for doing so well in school. I tried to participate as much as I could but the topic of Uni made me feel even worse as I wasn’t doing so well myself, and of course my mother asked the inevitable question „How is your Masters going, sweetie?“ „It’s going fine, mom.“ „Of course I understand you don’t want to talk about boring school stuff, but since this was the reason you came here in the first place I just wanted to ask.“ „I know, mom. And I have answered. It is going fine. It’s hard sometimes, especially the courses in German but basically I should be passing everything and that is great.“ I held my breath. I shouldn’t even have brought up the possibility of me not passing anything but she seemed not to have heard or chose to ignore it. „That is good to hear that you are still focusing on school.“ I exhaled silently and prayed for Sasha to come over soon. „So have you made any friends?“ my dad asked. That wasn’t usually like him asking anything more personal that how I was doing. My mom had probably set him up so she didn’t have to sound like an FBI agent half the time. „Yeah of course, they are all very nice.“ The thought of Lena made my stomach turn. And I hadn’t seen Megan in forever. „Maybe we will get to meet them while we are here.“ „Uh yeah, maybe. They are all very busy with Uni but maybe they will find the time.“ „That would be great.“ For a couple of minutes the conversation drifted to stories from home and my grandma and other things that were only superficially interesting for me and I could think. How was I going to get my parents off my back about school and my so-called „friends“. Would I have to keep them busy all the time for them to forget about this or would they just let it go if I didn’t bring it up again. I wasn’t sure which way it was going to pan out but either way they could never find out that all my friends here had disappeared since I met Sasha.

Sasha texted me to ask which restaurant we were at and I was relieved that the interrogation would stop soon. As I put my phone back into my purse my mom seized the opportunity to ask the final question that I had dreaded all day. „So have you spoken to Joey lately?“. I could feel the treacherous pink crawl up my neck. „No mom, I haven’t…“ my voice trailed off. I knew what she was going to say to that. I was right. She looked at me more disappointed than I had seen her in a while „Oh.“ was all she said. „Mom, I…“ I didn’t know what to say. I knew it was wrong and I knew that she didn’t recognize me for what I did but I had to for Sasha’s sake. He wouldn’t have been able to function had he known that I was still holding on to that piece of my life in any sort of way. He had asked me so many times if I regretted my decision to leave Joey for him and how that would kill him that I didn’t even let myself think about it, let alone think of Joey. „It’s ok sweetie. I just don’t understand. And I probably never will.“ She lowered hey eyes but I could see the tears she was trying to hide from me. Why she had to cry for him I didn’t know but it didn’t stop me from feeling worse than I had felt in a while.

When Sasha arrived 10 minutes later the conversation had landed on something less dramatic and I was truly glad to see him. He noticed right away. „What’s up sweetie?“ he whispered in my ear as he kissed my cheek. „Nothing.“ I mouthed but he wouldn’t be fooled. „Excuse me Mr. and Mrs. Grant, I need to steal Emma from you for a second for a little surprise.“ he winked at them while saying this and lead me outside. „Why do you look so upset? Do they not approve of me?“ His eyes were squinched, his lips pursed. „No Sasha, it’s not that.“ „Then what is it? Please tell me.“ I hesitated. If I told him would he flip out or would he just try to get me to relax. I didn’t like secrets to I just said „They have been talking a lot about home.“ „Like what? Your ex?“ He never used his name, I wasn’t even sure he knew it. „Yeah, him. And Vicky.“ and to soften things I added „and my grandparents and family and so on. It just made me a little homesick, that’s all.“ „Oh, ok.“ He didn’t say anything else and just embraced me tightly. Still somehow I wasn’t convinced that he would let this go just yet.“

When we came home later in the afternoon Sasha was very attentive and amazingly sweet with the things he said about my parents. „They are amazing people, I totally get why you are their daughter.“ He beamed at me. I was so glad that he liked them. „That’s so sweet baby.“ „Do you think they like me?“ „Of course they do, they loved you. I don’t think anyone has ever made them breakfast before.“ „Yeah that really was something wasn’t it?“ I kissed him and smiled. I was so lucky, who were my parents to ever have me doubt that.

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