B is for Blond

It all began even before the break-up, but a five-hour screaming match in front of the campus library marked the grand finale of a yearlong mistake. He yelled at me the whole time, telling me I was crazy, that this was not working.  I did not disagree.  I begged him not to go.  (I hate that girl still.)

Weeks later, I decided something did need to change.  My honey-colored hair skimmed the middle of my shoulder blades.  In a salon’s mirror, I saw hair that was dirty, limp, lifeless. I slumped down in her chair, nineteen feeling like ninety-nine. I could only see what someone longer wanted.  The stylist started painting my hair with nostril-burning purple cream.  Two hours later, I saw bangs, and a short yellow bob, hyper-defined against the blurred face.

The nape of my neck was exposed, and I was struck by how cold the air was, how I could feel it so much in that small spot. Continue reading

A is for Annandale

My mother and grandmother would always say, “You’re not from Annandale.  You’re from Alexandria.”  Our zip code straddled the invisible line from Alexandria city and Fairfax County.

Even back then I knew that the distinction they made was something they told themselves to feel better.

I’m from Annandale.  Actiondale.  Nowadays, K-Town, home of the best Korean B-B-Q you’re going to get around D.C.

People ask where in D.C. I’m from, and if they’re from the area, they’ll ask, “Where did you go to high school?”  The D.C. natives who went to public school only know the city public schools.  The D.C. natives who went to the prep schools only know the prep schools.  The kids from Fairfax County usually say, “Ooooh.”

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