I’m about to walk into a stranger’s place of business, introduce
myself, and ask the million-dollar question of my life: Do
you know who my father is?
How freakin’ messed up is that?
I take a deep breath and slowly let out the pent-up air
through my parted lips, allowing my lungs to stretch and contract
like a taut rubber band. Maybe that’s the tightness I’m
feeling in my chest. Yeah, right . . . couldn’t be the fact that
I’m in St. Louis in search of someone who might know what
man contributed the DNA that eventually became Kendall
Mom—my adopted mom, Sarah Moorehead—reaches
over and rubs her hand on my jeaned kneecap. “We’re here,
sweetie. We can do this.”
I nod when I really want to shake my head back and forth
and totally chicken out on this expedition. Stealing a look in
the visor mirror, I check for mascara flakes or food in my teeth
from the cookies I had on the plane from Atlanta. All clear.
Makeup . . . good. Clothes . . . mostly unwrinkled. Hair . . .
pulled away from face with a sparkly clip, brushed, and wavy.
I’m as ready to go as I can possibly be.
Mom puts her purse strap over her shoulder and fists the
rental-car keys in her palm. I climb out and listen as the automatic
locks click shut.
I squint into the Saturday-afternoon sunshine and glance at
the gold-trimmed glass sign in front of the quaint art gallery
on Twelfth Street here in downtown St. Louis. It reads andrea
See, here’s the current sitch: I just got back from my
Enlightened Youth Retreat in California, where I met my new
boyfriend, Patrick Lynn (who’s psychic just like me), and I told
the parentals about the vision I had about the person who may
or may not be my biological father. My bestie, Celia Nichols,
dug up information on the name that I saw in my vision: Andy
Caminiti. Actually, the name was Andi Caminiti. So, either my
real dad had a sex change (eww!) or I’m about to meet a member
of his immediate family.
My psychic awareness tells me it’s the latter.
“Let’s go, Kendall,” Mom says. She leads the way across the
sidewalk and through the double-glass doors of the art gallery.
My nostrils pick up the smell of turpentine, oil paint, and
scented candles. Canvases adorn the left wall, laser whips of
splashed colors in abstract patterns. To the right are more traditional
artsy pieces of rolling hills, sunsets, beaches, and landscapes
done in charcoal and watercolors. A spiral staircase in
the middle leads upward to a wide-open loft area that I can see
is full of black-and-white photographs of people. Close-ups of
eyes, mouths, arms, and . . . is that a picture of a bellybutton?
Weird . . . yet beautifully shot.
For a moment, I consider this woman, Andi Caminiti, who
is quite well known in the art community of St. Louis, Missouri,
and I wonder how in the world I could possibly be related to
such a talented person. I can barely draw stick figures.
A young girl with tight curls and fashionable black glasses
“Welcome to Andrea Caminiti’s gallery,” she says. “I’m Liza.
May I show you around?”
Mom gently clears her throat. “Thank you, Liza, but we
have an appointment.”
Liza adjusts her glasses on her plump face. “You must be
Mrs. Moorehead. Andi will be right down to see you. Have a
seat and I’ll get you some bottled water while you wait.”
We smile and move behind Liza over to an area where two
white-leather couches sit facing each other. When I came
home from California and told Mom and Dad all about my
psychic visions and the connection to the name in St. Louis,
my ’rents didn’t hesitate to go online and book two tickets out
here to St. Louis for this Saturday morning. Mom called ahead
to the gallery on the pretext of wanting to purchase some of
the artist’s work for our new house . . . so here we are.
Liza holds out two cold, plastic bottles. “Sparkling or still?”
I take the proffered drink, twist off the cap, and quickly
douse the fiery burn in my throat. How am I going to do this?
Do I have the guts to reveal what I know to a total stranger?
Will she be nice? Mean? Will she kick us out, or, worse, call the
police and have them put us in the loony bin? Do we even still
have loony bins in this country? These thoughts—who needs
My BlackBerry vibrates in my pocket, and I draw it out. Patrick
is texting me. Of course he is. We’re cosmically connected.
>Clam down. Everything will work out. P
I love how our brains and psyches are linked, even four
The tapping of three-inch heels on the wooden spiral staircase
causes me to jerk my head up. I see her legs first. Long and
lean, like a runner. A flowy black skirt then comes into view
followed by a loose-fitting black chiffon top. From the back,
the woman is tall and thin with jet-black hair. As she turns, her
ivory face is highlighted by bright red lipstick and lush black
lashes surrounding her . . . hazel eyes. Wow—they’re sort of the
same color as mine.
“Sarah?” she asks as she walks toward us with her right
hand extended. “I’m Andi. So nice of you to come all this way
to see my work.”
Mom and I both stand and the adults exchange handshakes.
I literally stare at the pretty lady in front of me, wondering
how I’m going to start this convo. My throat becomes as arid
as the California desert I flew over on the way home from my
retreat. My eyes begin to water and I’m afraid that if I blink,
it’ll look like I’m crying. A stabbing pain cranks over my left
eyebrow and I suddenly feel like I’ve been here before. Vuja de
of another time. Been here, met her before. I don’t know why
my psychic senses pick this exact moment to get all wibbletated.
New word Patrick taught me; he picked it up from kids
at his previous school, in Tampa. Meaning “distorted.” And I
think that totally defines my life these days.
Eyes that mirror my own turn to me, and Mom makes the
“This is my daughter Kendall. Thank you for taking the
time to meet us.”
“Pleased to meet you both,” Andi says.
My hand slides into Andi’s delicate one and I suddenly see
flashes of her as a child. Long black hair gathered in a ponytail
that’s being pulled by a nearly identical twin. Only he’s a he.
Andy. Andy Caminiti. The name I envisioned. The two children
are laughing and playing and wrestling over a go-cart. I
pull my hand back, not wanting to invade memories of a family
I may or may not be a part of.
Andi takes in my sudden action but smiles. “Have you had
a chance to look around the gallery?”
“Not really, but it seems pretty cool to have your own gallery,”
“It is,” she says. “Took me a while, but here I am.” She
pauses. “Are you an artist, Kendall?”
The laughter bubbles out before I can stop it. “No, ma’am.
Crayolas were never my friend.”
Mom sets her hand on my shoulder. “Kendall’s talent...