I looked around the unfamiliar suburban neighborhood of E. Dollywood Avenue.
Would this work out? How long could I take a break from my career without too many fans noticing?
I peered down at the map that I picked up from the airport, but I couldn’t make any sense of it.
Maybe I’ll just go back,I though, but it was too easy to go back. This was going to be the Summer that where I got to have fun. No big cities, no crowds…
And then a loud growl followed by an even louder bark hit me as a slobbery paw began to hit me legs,
“EEK!” I screeched as I lost my balance and almost toppled to the ground, but not before I heard the cry of a girl..
“LULU, NO! Get off!” she yelled,
I suddenly felt embarrassed when I realized it was just a cute little dog.
The husky puppy whimpered and went straight to the girl’s side,
“Oh my goodness, I am so sorry! Are you Ok? Did she hurt you?” she looked genuinely concerned, which was a nice change from what I was used to…
“Uh, no, I’m ok. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize it was just a cute little husky! I’ve never really had a dog before…”
This was turning out to be even more awkward.
“Oh! Well this is Lulu, my husky, and she usually stays right next to me, but..”
I laughed, “It’s ok! She’s so adorable!”
“My name’s Valerie,” she began, sticking out her hand,
“Well mine’s Nora. Nora-”
I hesitated when saying my last name. It was good that she didn’t recognize me yet.
“Hey, um, this might sound weird, but you look kind of lost. Are you new here?”
“Actually, I am lost. I’m looking for my new house that I’ll be staying at, but I don’t know the address…”
“Are you staying with anybody else?”
“Yeah, I’m staying with the Parker family!”
“Wow, that’s so cool! I actually live in the Parker household! And I know right where our house is!”
She started tracing her finger along the map as I peered over and listened to her directions.
“Thank you so much Valerie, you have no idea how much you helped me just now,”
“No problem! I’m so happy we have a new sister!” she looked so excited but I knew I had to break it to her,
“Well, I’m actually only staying for the Summer…”
For a moment she looked crestfallen, but then she picked her cheery demeanor right back up, “Well, that’s still pretty awesome! I would lead you to the house myself and give you the tour and stuff, but I have to walk my dog…”
“That’s totally Ok! I totally get it! I’ll see you later, Valerie, and thank you so much for your help,”
“Great! If you knock on the door, I’m sure someone will eventually answer you,”
I did as she told me and started down the twisting and turning sidewalks.
I started to knock loudly on the pretty pale blue door.
Like the queen I was, I sat snacking on gourmet cheese crackers and lemon iced tea. ( A wonderful flavor combination, By the way,)
But my royal serenity did not last long, because I heard a rather loud knock at the door, followed by the earsplitting shout of Emily, the one in charge, “SAIGE! GET THE DOOR!”
I fired back, “NO THANK YOU,”
Hey, at least I was being polite.
“SAIGE. GET THE DOOR.”
I groaned the longest, and the loudest groan so that I was sure Emily could hear, gracefully pulled myself up and strutted to the door.
“Listen, I don’t know who you are, but this family has found Jesus, we’re not interested in anything you have to sell, our carpets are perfectly clean, and if you’re a girl scout, I’ll take 14 boxes of Peppermint patties,” I rattles off my routine speech, praying that whoever this was would go away.
The girl in front of me had a beautiful guitar slung over her shoulder, pretty chestnut brown braids and eyes, and a gorgeous white dress.
And I knew who she was right away.
“A-re you… THE Nora Brooks? The country star? The new Taylor Swift? The winner of that one singing game show? The one who’s going on Tour in August?”
“Hi! Yeah, that’s me.”
“OH MY GOSH! I’m your biggest fan! Why are you here? Why is the queen of music HERE?!”
“Excuse me Saige, I’ll deal with this…” leave it to Emily to butt in right when I meet my favorite celebrity in the world,
“Hi Nora! I’m so glad you’re here, I got very worried when you didn’t arrive a week ago…”
“Well, American Girl Airlines said that my purchase of the plane ticket from new York to here didn’t go through, so I had to wait a week to buy another plane ticket. But I’m here now, and I’m very sorry that I worried you!”
“Oh, don’t worry about it! I hope you enjoy your Summer here until you go off on your world tour in August!”
“I’m sure I will!” Nora replied,
Emily cleared her throat, “Now come on in, Nora! Welcome to our household!”
I looked around at the gorgeous Parker Household
“Wow, you’ve done a great job with your decorating, Emily,”
“Thank you Nora!” She turned and splayed out her hands,
“And this is your room, Nora!”
I was speechless. It was perfect. It wasn’t generic, like all the other rooms I’d stayed in.
It was personally for me.
A silk golden confetti duvet was thrown over the elegant white bed, there was a beautiful view out the window, and plush pillows sat on the head of the bed.
“Th-thank you so much.”
“Oh my goodness, Nora! It’s no problem! We’ll leave you alone to unpack now, we hope you like it here. And then later you can meet everyone!”
I thanked Emily as Saige stood in the corner and fangirled.
I decided I would give her my autograph as soon as possible.
I sat on my new bed and procrastinated unpacking my suitcase.
I finally gave in and pulled out the clothing I had picked out for the Summer and started to fold.
Suddenly, a young girl with blonde pigtails and lot’s of pink on scurried up. Her eyes lit up when she looked at my new concert dress.
“Hi! Are you Nora?” she asked in an adorable voice,
“Oh, yes! I’m Nora, and I’m staying for the Summer!”
“Well my name’s Paisley and I really love pink… Can I try this on?”
What a strange request, I thought, “Well… Sure! Why not?”
She squealed, ran into the bathroom, and about 2 minutes later, she re-entered,
“How do I look?”
“You look very pretty Paisley, like a princess!”
She looked to be in the second grade, and she asked me another question,
“Wow! Your hair looks really long! Can I do it?”
And so, 30 seconds later, I found myself with my intricate
braids taken out, sitting cris cross applesauce in the front of my bed as an 8 year old brushed my hair.
This would be an interesting Summer vacation.
“I like to braids Saigie’s hair after she does mine, so don’t worry, your hair in in good hands,”
“Don’t worry! I’m ok!”
I was very worried. But I would never show it to her.
I sat in silence as Paisley tugged and pulled at my hair and told me all about her favorite ice cream flavors. (apparently confetti sorbet is Baskin Robin’s flavor of the month.)
“And DONE! EEK you look so pretty!”
She had braided two tiny pieces of my hair and pulled them together like a braided crown. I had to admit, this little girl was good!
“Wow Paisley! Thank you for my new hairstyle! I’m very excite dto be staying with you this Summer!”
“I’m excited to have another sister!”
She scurried off before I could correct her.
I pulled myself up and sat on my bed, strumming random chords on my signature guitar, and I couldn’t help but think,
if this goes well, what if I stay… for longer? I could have sisters that would always be there for me, and I would never again-
My mind rattled off with millions of thoughts on how wonderful it would be if I stayed here, and I found it to be quite convincing.
Perhaps too convincing.