This IS My Smiling Face

Charlotte Kaufman staring at camera

I really, truly thought I was smiling when I took this picture. It was only after I looked at it in the photo album that I realized that currently, this is my smiling face.

It’s a grimace that I smear upwards. 

A few days ago my neighbor saw me walking down the street and stopped his car to say hello. People do that in this small town. They wave. They slow to talk. He rolled his windows down and I nodded at his daughter in the back seat too.

We chatted about the weather, about the other neighbor who drives too fast on our street, and about upcoming Halloween parties. We have a family costume theme we are doing with the girls (all of us will be characters from Harry Potter), but there are a few parties for adults happening in the next few weeks so we talked about costumes for those. 

My anxiety has been building thinking about attending them. When I went to these parties in 2016 there were people dressed as Trump, as in PRO-Trump. I can only imagine how many little Brett Kavanaughs will be cavorting triumphantly at the upcoming shindigs. I already don’t like going to big loud parties with lots of people I don’t know, especially people who might be openly flaunting how happy they are about a sexual predator being both in the White House and the Supreme Court. 

My neighbor talked about the costume he’d been sewing together for weeks (Mammoth residents are super into their costumes in this town). Then he asked me, “What are you gonna be?”

I blurted out, "I’m gonna be furious.”

He paused. “Fu-riosa? Furious?”

“I’m going to dress as myself and when people ask me what I am I’ll say, ‘I’m furious.’”

His daughter raised her head from the book she was reading in the back of the car and regarded me then. I thought, if you aren’t furious yet, sister, you will be.

I added, “You know, sign of the times.”

He began to nod, understanding.

My awkwardness ended our conversation. He smiled. I did the grimace that I’m smearing across my face and we parted ways. 

The yellow and gold aspen leaves lightly clicked on the asphalt as they fell. My feet tread across them and even stepped on, they were beautiful in their final glory.

What will you be for Halloween? Because I’m furious. 

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