She came sweeping into my life like a fairy godmother with a magic card that paid for everything I couldn’t. My heart and soul and very penny I had went into creating the salon. Sparkling and shining but missing a few things but it was mine. Six months all alone except for the odd client in my chair, no one was interested in joining my salon. I was a no body no one heard of, and then she came into my life. She rented a chair and worked her magic, not an expense too high for her to swipe. She filled the salon with new furniture and decorations I couldn’t afford. With her came new clients and friends in the industry, business was booming and the bills became less.
With her magic new card came wining and dining, and bags of hand-me-down clothing some still new with the price tags still on from her daughter’s closet. A glimpse into the life of luxury with every new thing she brought in. She vacationed three times a year and never worried about price tags when shopping in stores. At Christmas I offered pizza and beer, she told me not to worry and bought us all tickets to a ritzy party instead. We got dressed to the nines and borrowed jewelry from her closet some of it never worn. It was party id never had dreamed of going the drinks were poured and the food was the finest.
It was two years of bliss that was shortly lived. In one fell swoop she took more than she gave, away from me. Down the street not even a full block she gutted and built a brand new shop. No expense too high for every whim she wanted. It sparkled and shined, I couldn’t compete. The girls were awe struck with the things I couldn’t provide. They decided to go with her; I was with nothing again, no girls and no more pennies to spend. I cried in defeat as my once fairy godmothers magic undone, my salon and new family I worked so hard for was gone, betrayed and forgotten.
My wild not brushed hair flowing in the wind standing on the swings going higher and higher and higher. The race is on to see who can go jump the furthest. Chris is going faster than me, Derrick is too! I gotta pump harder! “Nikki don’t you think you should slow down?” My auntie yells from beside the swing set. Ignoring my auntie I push harder, Chris flys first his feet soaring through the air he lands with a loud thud on the ground he went so far. Derricks flying through the sky now too his arms flailing thru the sky trying to balance himself he lands with a crash into the sand. He’s not as far as Chris but still pretty far. My turn one more pump, bend my knees take a deep breath and I’m soaring. I land with my bare feet sliding through the sand I made it almost as far as Chris but definitely farther than Derrick.
We take off towards the soccer nets onto our next activity of choice. Running from the swing set I spit on my hands and rub them together the spit will help my hands stick to the metal better. First at the nets I’m smaller and a good climber I’ll get to the top first for sure! Chris and Derrick not far behind me I climb even faster. I’m at the top slowly scooting across the bar to get to the middle, throw myself over the bar upside down and hang, arms stretched out swinging back and forth. We play for a while running around, jumping off the swings doing flips off the monkey bars and climbing the soccer nets. Auntie Linda shouts “it’s time to go home for supper.” I grab my shoes, and run to catch up to everyone. “You’re quite the Tomboy Nikki you can sure keep up with the boys. You play rough and aren’t afraid of anything…” “What’s a tomboy auntie Linda?” “It’s a girl who acts like a boy and does not things…” “Oh I didn’t know I was acting like a boy…”
This is the first time I remember being called a tomboy and finding out what it meant. I grew up with one sister and one girl cousin and all of my other cousins were boys. I never thought about the things we did as being “boy” activities we just did what we enjoyed doing.
Sitting on the floor with VHS tapes scattered everywhere. Hmmm which one to watch today?
“Mom! Mom! Mom! Can we watch Pocahontas?” I hope she hears me from in the kitchen. “Ok just give me a minute I’ll be right there.” Mom puts the movie in and pushes play.
My skin has always been a little more brown than my friends. I have blue eyes and light hair, but I have tan skin and in the summer my skin turns even more brown. My best friend Cheryl has pale skin almost white, blue eyes and blonde hair. Her skin stays the same all summer long. I never really noticed though until I watched Pocahontas for the first time. I realize my Nanna and cousins look a lot like them. I kind of look like them too but not as much. I wonder if I’m like Pocahontas. When i see Nanna, I’m going to ask her why she looks like them.
“Nanna are you like Pocahontas!?! “
“Well sweetie I’m Cree which means I am like Pocahontas because Cree is a type of native. But do you know what that means? It means your mommy is Cree too, which means you are also part Cree. So that means you’re like Pocahontas too.” My eyes open wide my imagination going wild with a million questions. “Wow really?! Is that why I like walking barefoot and can climb trees so good because I’m like them? Is that why I’m such a good swimmer?”
“Well that could be part of the reason why you like all those things, sure!”
“WOW Nanna that’s amazing I can’t wait to tell Cheryl that I’m like Pocahontas!”
Cheryl lives across the street from me; our moms like to have coffee while we play together in the yard. “Cheryl guess what! My Nanna told me I’m native just like Pocahontas and Nakoma so that means I’m one with nature.” “Oh wow Nikki that’s so cool, that must be why you’re so good at braiding!” “Yeah, wanna see how I braid this long grass?! Mom also says I can be Nakoma for Halloween because I’m just like her! Mom even got me boots that look just like Nacoma’s, they’re called Muklucks!”
vThis is the day I realized I wasn’t quite the same as my friends and not the exact same as Pocahontas either. Watching Pocahontas for the first time as a small child I realized I was like her. Well, not Pocahontas precisely because she is a bit whiney, I was more like Nakoma. Even though my skin was not as brown as hers, I cherished the fact that there was a reason I loved being barefoot and in the trees. To this day I still love being barefoot and the same trees I climbed as a child now grow in my yard and that copy of Pocahontas still sits on the shelf at my parents’ house.
The love that is perogies.(writing the self)
It’s a cold blustery morning like most mornings in the midst of a usual Saskatchewan winter, but today is Christmas Eve and I know I have to get up soon. I know mom is wearing her trusty blue apron, and has already franticly started preparing for Christmas Eve dinner, before I even crawl out of bed. I feel the cold air seep through the brick walls of my childhood bedroom onto my face not protected by warmth of my blanket. Before I even open my eyes I can hear her footsteps on the creaking hardwood floor and the clanking of dishes into the sink and the sizzle of butter in the frying pan. Christmas Eve is my favorite meal of the year, it always has been even before my mom and I took over making it.
The bitter smell of sauerkraut frying in the kitchen starts to drift into my room. I know I need to get up and start helping with the dinner preparations. The floor feels so cold on my bare feet, I don’t bother changing out of my pajamas I know I’m just going to be covered in a white dusting of flour soon enough, so I might as well wait to get cleaned up. I go into the kitchen moms now sitting at the table peeling potatoes with her favorite paring knife in hand, I grab a knife and sit down at the table. Between the two of us we peel the pot full of potatoes in no time. With the click of nob and the flicker of the flame the potatoes are on top the stove boiling. We begin to get into our Christmas eve preparation rituals mom starts to prepare the other perogie fillings while I get grandmas tried and true perogie dough recipe from the lightly stained wooden recipe box. The recipe is crusted with old flour from the Christmas of years past. I pull the largest metal bowl we have from the cupboard the only time of year i ever see this massive bowl being used. Heaping scoops of flour and other ingredients are plopped into the bowl a white cloud of flour emerging from the bowl, as I knead the sticky floury paste between my fingers making sure all the ingredients are mixed to the right thick consistency. Next comes the rolling a dusting of flour is placed onto the table we roll the dough so mechanically cutting our imperfectly perfect squares to house our fillings. Sauerkraut, potato, poppy seed and plum our nimble fingers work quick to scoop and pinch every perogie into the perfect bite size flavor filled pocket of joy. Dozens of perogies lay out on sheets lined with parchment paper, our biggest project of the day accomplished.
As the day goes on Family slowly start to show up, Christmas music and the sound of people fill the house with warmth and noise. The smell of cabbage rolls cooking in the crock pot starts to fill the house with a fragrant smell of cabbage and tomato. Mom and I hustle around the ever growing crowd of family filling the house. I set the table with the red Christmas table cloth we use every year with the Santa salt and pepper shaker and traditional candle that burns all evening, we have a plate and bowl set for every member of our family coming to dinner squished around the small table.
Two large pots are filled with water on the stove the water slowly starting to boil, in the oven there is freshly caught fish carefully seasoned and baking in the oven. On the counter next to the stove, a stack of bowls rest ready to be filled with butter and freshly cooked perogies. The house fills with steam as the pots of roaring water start to boil the kitchen windows now foggy from the warmth. The first batch of perogies are dropped into the water with a splash, as they are start to cook the next batch is prepared we move back in forth cooking and scooping in an almost coordinated dance.
Bowls filled with wheat and poppy seed grandmas prepared, and a bowl of steaming hot borscht at every place setting. Supper is finally ready, bowls and plates of twelve different dishes line the table not an empty space in sight. It’s finally time to eat those hot steamy perogies I dreamed about all day. As we Gather around the overcrowded table, grandma says her prayer in a language I don’t understand, from the look in her eyes I know she is feeling overwhelmed with joy and love for the large family she created and for her traditions she passed down. My plate stacked high with a pile of steaming hot perogies I take my first bite of pure bliss that is perogies. I feel at home and hungry surrounded by the warmth of loved ones knowing that each Christmas Eve will end with the same sense of accomplishment and love for the food that is perogie.