Janice leaned down beside me. “It’s a girl’s vanity. Linda’s mother is a beautician and she had catalogues of these things. Billy gave Linda the size of your little table and she picked this one. Linda is sort of sweet on Billy and all she wanted for her efforts was a kiss.”
I stood up and put my arms around his neck. We just stood there gazing at one another for a minute. I swallowed and said, “You’re the one, Billy. I’m going to hang on to you with my fingernails if I must. It’s roaring inside me so loud! It’s war! Boom, boom! That’s the only way I can describe it. I can’t hear anything except the bombs exploding, boom, boom!”
He kissed me, then said, “I don’t think I’ve got an hour’s sleep since I met you.”
“He’s up all night,” Greg said. “He goes to the phone, stops, turns around sits down. Then he gets up and goes to the phone again.”
“She’s talking about her heart,” Evangela said. “It beats so loud.”
“Happy birthday, Ronni. You deserve things just for you,” Billy said. I looked down at the table. “Wait. You’ve already thought about giving some of it away, haven’t you?”
“I will cherish it always, but there’s a shade of makeup that matches Penny,” I said. “Don’t you all shake your heads. The tone’s too dark for me.”
“That makes sense,” Monique said.
“Holy crap!” Greg said and stood looking at his wristwatch. “The time! We promised her back by nine. We need to go!”
“Are you coming?” I asked Billy.
“This time, yes.”
We gathered our things. Billy carried my two plates and I carried my new vanity. We all trailed out the door and said goodbyes. Me, Billy, Greg and Janice got in the Lincoln and backed out of the driveway. I was the first to notice him. I turned around, then Billy. A single head light pulled out of a driveway we passed and followed behind us.
“That driveway was Angel’s house,” Billy said.
“Is that him behind us?”
“I think so,” Greg said. “He’ll probably show off and roar past us up here before we turn. I know him.”
We looked back at him. Greg said, “You know, there’s still a lot of teenager in him. He hasn’t broken through to a man quite yet. If he doesn’t see where he’s going soon, he may never make it.”
I sat back and thought about those words for a few minutes. There was much there to think about. I’ve never heard anyone talk about growing up in those terms before. Breaking through to become a man or a woman was puzzling. Is that something that a person could consciously do, or is it something that you just slid into as the years go by?
I leaned up and held onto the front seat. “How does that work, that breaking through?”
“It’s when you reach a point in your life when you can see clearly who you want to be and where you want to go. What kind of man or woman do you want to be? You can decide that and you should. Don’t let others or outside circumstances decide it for you. When you stand on your own feet and not let others define you, then you have broken through.”
I laid my head on my arm and looked at Greg. “Defining myself by saying or doing?”
“Both!” he said. “You’ve hit the nail on the head! You’ve got to match who you say you are to what you do, your actions. If you say you are a person with high moral standards, then turn around and do something immoral or criminal, people will never believe in you. But a person who backs up what they say with what they do, now that is a strong person, even if they are ordinary people, like us.”