I’m supposed to be twenty. I mean, that’s what all the birthday cards keep proclaiming, so of course it must be true. Right? Maybe?
I feel about twelve and a half deep down. I’m still that little kid with the pimples speckling her chin, standing in front of the bathroom mirror at midnight, teaching herself how to put on makeup with a camping flashlight and a mascara wand pilfered from her mother’s makeup bag. I remember I stole one of her lipglosses, too; this was during her Cruella-red lipstick days, so of course the cotton-cloud pink lipgloss looked all wrong nestled between her blush brush and her charcoal eyeliner. My mother wore power suits and carried a crocodile briefcase, for heaven’s sake! So I took the lipgloss. I figured she wouldn’t miss it. She didn’t.
I wore it every day until it ran out. It made my hair stick to my mouth when we were in cars and taxis with the windows rolled down. It was December, summer in Argentina, and at the mall they had big holiday displays of snowy mountains and Santa and his reindeer, glassy snowflakes on the tree in the window of my favorite bookstore. We’d promenade around the mall in air-conditioned comfort, in sundresses and sandals, and look at the stagings of something most people in Buenos Aires would never experience: a cold Christmas. A holiday on ice, if you want to put it that way. It looked weird, as weird as a twelve-year-old with sticky sweet pink glistening on her lips. That was when I really felt twenty, if you want to know the truth.