Greens Farms Academy is a PreK-12, coed school in Westport, CT

Warm Citrus Perfume

By Sofia Ebbesen '21

It’s drizzling on our drive up the north coast, but of course right when we pull in it starts pouring. Our rented silver Volkswagen rolls through the gravel driveway of the little beach hotel. Our butts are sore, our legs itch for a stretch, and our bladders are on the verge of explosion. (Thanks to our Dad for that one; he hates stopping.) Eva jumps out and runs right inside without her bag with my mom following behind; no one’s surprised. My dad sighs.

“Come on, Beaver, I’m not a bell boy. Kimmy!”

“Lars, it’s pouring! Can’t you just grab mine?”

“It’s fine, I’ll grab hers,” Maya says. 

Maya and I lug two suitcases each up the white wooden stairs to the patio as the rain drenches our hair; my dad follows behind. Eva sits on the white straw patio furniture with her legs up on the glass coffee table. 

“Stay out here while your mother deals with the room,” my dad says, shaking the water out of his hair like a dog, walking inside the warm narrow entry. 

“Beaver, watch the bags.” She nods and slouches further into the navy cushions. He rolls his eyes as he stands in front of the dusty hotel desk. Behind the desk is a middle-aged blonde woman with a heavy Danish accent, and behind her is an old man in a rugged soft blue button-down. He hands my mom a rustic looking large key.

“Room 19.”

Maya and I stroll around the narrow hallways, walls smothered with old beach photographs and painted sea stars, until we come upon the dining room where the wedding will be held that night. We look out the bright rusty white windows to the beach and watch the rain turn to mist. 

— — —

My sisters and I stuff our enormous suitcases into the single person-sized elevators and race them up the stairs. We arrive at the door of our tiny room. The floors creak as we step in. The walls hold three paintings of seashells, and the only furniture in the room is a queen bed covered with a sheet and a baby blue quilt. The room is simple but the real beauty lies behind the glass doors in the corner of the room. We open the doors, walk up a narrow flight of stairs, and discover a huge private deck with a panoramic view of the coast. The rain has cleared and the seagulls are now out and about, swarming the bed and breakfast, arriving with the other family members. We have a photoshoot in our furry pom-pom hats and fake glasses that make us look “chic.” 

Hours pass, the three of us squished in our tiny bed together, until my nose and Maya’s can’t tolerate Eva’s gas anymore and we migrate to the cot. Eva’s annoyed, but she has no shame. Once the sun has gone down my mom stumbles in wearing a pair of uncomfortable wedges and overlined lip liner that I say looks like smeared crap. I’m rude, but I don’t care because Maya laughs. 

“Girls, come on,” my mom says. “It’s your cousin’s wedding. The least you could do is say hi to your family.”

“Mom, we saw them all day yesterday.”

“It shouldn’t feel like an obligation to be with your family. Get dressed.”

I slip into a black and pink polka dot whose bottom is lined with black sequins. Eva smears eyeliner on and some red lipstick that really brings out her shiny metal mouth. Maya looks like Maya. She could wear a potato sack and look stunning. We walk in a line of age down the steep stairs. The moment we walk into the pre-wedding party the room lights up. 

“Ah, the three blonde sisters have arrived,” my favorite, Aunt Lisbeth, says.

“You look bayyyuttiful,” my grandmother says. My dad kisses us all on the head and my mom smiles her uncomfortable, “thanks for doing this,” overly happy fake smile she does sometimes. We mingle for a bit, answering the endless stream of repetitive questions like “What’s your favorite study?” or “Have you found a friendly boy?” Maya and I make eye contact and laugh as she answers for the sixteenth time that college indeed has been good so far. Eva gave up long before and returned to the comfort of Grey’s Anatomy awaiting her under the baby blue quilt. 

— — —

The ceremony had taken place earlier that day, so the moment we arrive downstairs is when the party starts. Bottles of champagne pop left and right, and my Uncle Mikel says, “Danes like to drink!” After two hours of cocktail party “mingling,” we return up the creaky stairs for a deserved nap, until my mom returns. 

“If I’m staying downstairs, so are you. Plus, the food is almost gone.”

The three of us roll out of bed like slugs, head downstairs, and take our seats at the end of the dining table for the first time that night.

“Ah, there you are, girls,” my grandmother says. “Hans’s best man is about to give a speech.”

“Please tell me it’s in English.”

“Niy,” my cousin Morten replies. 

“I will try and translate for you,” my grandmother says.

Maya, Eva, and I huddle around our Farmor (father’s mother in Danish). She has brie cheese breath and wears a warm citrus perfume. She holds our hands in a bunch. Her skin is soft and wrinkly and her red glasses sit high up on her nose. Maya and Eva start drooling when a handsome, scruffy guy rises from the center table to stand on a chair with a fork and glass of champagne in hand. Farmor giggles and says loudly,“Ah yes, Hans has many handsome friends.” He begins his toast, and my grandma begins translating. The speech is long, and she often forgets her translating task or demands that Morten take over. She never stops holding our hands. Once the speech hits the ten minute mark, all the Danes have given up on the whole translating thing, and we just sit and listen. Held together, our hands are warm. We have absolutely no idea what Leonardo Dicaprio on the chair says for the remainder of the speech, but regardless, the three of us start tearing up as our family members begin to sob. Eva’s eyeliner is smeared under her eyes, and Maya’s cheeks are rosy. The handsome guy raises his glass, we raise our glasses, and klink.
“Cheers, Farmor!”

“Skolt, my girls.”