Nearly a dozen girls have gathered to celebrate the entry of The Princess into that sisterhood of the teen years; she is 13 today, the last among her friends.
In our dining room, on the window and door sills are little figures. I hear them ask, what are those?
"My stepdad is a Dungeon Master," she answers, and I can hear something tentative in her tone. Is this amusing geekery, or does it cross the dangerous border to the Land of Nerd, or worse, the Valley of the Dorks?
The answer comes quickly as several girls squeal, "Cool!!!"
And they move on to other topics of importance: being able to swallow pills, how much makeup is too much, what shall we have on our pizza?
They quote "The Princess Bride," for they all like to think of "True Wuv," though they make fun of it at the same time. I remember taking The Princess to see the movie when she was too young, because I had nowhere else to leave her. I fed her chicken nuggets to keep her quiet. Was she 2 or 3? Hard to remember. It's part of her muscle memory now, along with certain books and restaurants and people we have known along the way, part of our collective memory as a family and her personalized life story, too.
I don't know all these girls. Some are recent friends. The old and the new survey each other upon arrival, wondering how they will fit together, drawn in a circle by the birthday girl.
Molly the Dog circles the group, hopeful, though I am on hold with Domino's, and the pizza she envisions is not here, just yet.
There is laughter, and conviviality, and this is only the first day of the coming age.