Lucky for me, that’s what I was waiting for as I sat in the floor, working on a puzzle, so many nights ago. The puzzle was almost complete and my homework done, all I needed was dessert to end a satisfactory day. I brushed shoulder length, brown hair out of my face, leaving a little section on my finger to twirl. I studied the remaining puzzle pieces with gray blue eyes, a quizzical expression on my face. My parents sat in the den talking, about what I didn’t know, nor care, so long as it didn’t impede upon my pie privileges. My younger sister Natalie was curled up in a chair near them reading, her short brown hair easily avoiding being in the way of the bright blue eyes hungrily scanning the pages of the book. It was, in so many ways, a normal evening in our family residence. No thoughts of change ran through my head. That sort of pesky consideration didn’t even come knocking when my dad called us children over to him.
“Yeah,” Natalie returned, unconcernedly.
“Do you have any news on how the interview went?” I questioned, somewhat more interested in the conversation.
“Well, they hired me!” was the response, one I hoped would eventually come, but was not expecting.
“That’s absolutely, positively, fantastic!” my sister exclaimed, her expression brightening considerably.
“Hooray! You can finally be happy again!” I added, a warm bubbly feeling rising in me, as if I had just drank a warm cup of steaming hot coco. Images of my father during the past few years filled my head, him arriving home late from work in a bad mood, going into work late at night, attempting to keep his frustration hidden during conference calls, snacking on Red Vines in the car (a sign of anxiety in him), and, worst of all, working during vacation! I took a deep breath, and, with a smile, silently ordered them to be gone, to be replaced with happy, smiling, relaxed visualizations. After my moment to myself, I opened my eyes and noticed my mother’s expression.
“What’s amiss?” I had picked up on the fact that she looked like someone was coming at her with a bottle of the most disgusting cough medicine.
“Oh, nothing,” she responded, a little too quickly for my taste.
“But this is good, right,” I was letting words leave my mouth a little more slowly than in the moments before. “Daddy was extremely miserable at Gilat and wanted to quit. Why would him getting this job with Comcast, one he thought would fit him nicely, be terrible?” My tone was hesitant and uncertain, my brain screaming for my doubts to be silenced.
“For the interview, I flew to Philadelphia.” Daddy’s words were spoken in a slow, patient voice, one that hinted that I was supposed to be connecting some dots. “We will be moving to Philadelphia because my new job is based there.” I heard a whooshing sound as the executioner's blade fell to deliver the fatal blow.
Had it only been a few weeks ago that I had been thinking how my life was perfect? That the only happening that could possibly mess it up was moving? Those thoughts and more ran through my head as time slowed. It was the perfect disaster I thought regretfully, as time sped up, reality rushing towards me at an alarming pace. I wanted to put up my arms and beg for those thirteen words to be taken back, to never have been uttered by the man I called “Daddy.” I would have liked to dwell more on the exact moment when my life changed, but I was rejoining reality and a reaction was needed.
“What!?” my sister’s reply broke me out of my trance.
“That’s not funny Daddy. Not funny at all! This is a terrible joke!” My words may have been ones of shocked disbelief, my attitude incredulous in regards to to the news, but they didn’t change reality.
“I’m sorry honey.” The words, sympathetic though they were, broke a harsh truth. How my parents could do this to me, I didn’t know. Yet, they were doing it. My very own mother and father were destroying my very existence. Tears threatened my eyes and I let them fall.
They burst from my eyes, marking trails down my face and leaving a salty taste in my mouth. I went on that way, my broken form crumpled on the floor of the den, shaking as sobs rattled my long and lean body.
When the crying lessened, I added sentences in, such as “You guys are ruining my life!” or “Why are you doing this to me?” I wasn’t trying to be bratty, the words just slipped out. It wasn’t like with the tears where I let them come. This was more along the lines of a miserable person venting. Looking at the two adults on the couch, I noticed their sad expressions. For a moment I felt like the family was joined in misery. What happened next, I never would have foreseen.
“Wow! Philadelphia! Snow!” Natalie’s cheerful exclamations were almost as shocking as the news of the move for me. I know we don’t normally have snow in Dunwoody, Georgia, but how did a few feet of a freezing substance, to be enjoyed in even more frigid weather, make up for losing your life?! I was still crying, though the tears weren’t quite as heavy as before, so she Natalie appeared a little blurry as I looked at her in disbelief. Nor did my low feelings prevent me from hearing what she was saying . “We’re going to get to make new friends! Oh I can’t wait to meet everyone! And to have snow!” The treachery went on in a similar fashion, an interesting break I suppose from my wailing. Finally, I could bear it no more.
“Are you happy that we are being uprooted, our lives ruined?” my questions were half shrieks and half demands. I could scarcely even think the thought that the words of destruction had resonated with her in an exciting way.
“Well, no…” the poor child now looked confused, as if she didn’t know what she thought or felt. When I stopped crying, at last, there was silence. Then, Natalie asked “How about that pie?”
The night wasn’t all bad. I enjoyed my highly anticipated dessert. The pie was great and the ice cream delicious. I also finished the puzzle. Then, as if to make up for all of the disappointment that night, Mom put on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, one of our family’s favorite movies, but even the funny songs weren’t really weren’t any sort of comparison to the fun events beforehand.
Perhaps the worst part of the whole situation was telling my closest friends, Mantha (short for Samantha), Catherine, Julia, Camryn, and Sabrina. They were all devastated. Catherine, who lived down the street from me and rode the bus to school with me every morning, was especially heartbroken. Julia immediately started making plans for keeping me in Georgia, hiding me from my parents and living in her basement. As time passed, we tried not to think about it too much.
A part of the new job I hadn’t realized that first night was the fact that my dad would be spending his weeks in Philly and coming home only on the weekends. That part was difficult to adapt to. I missed him and the change was hard on my mother, who worked part-time. Yet, as time wore on, that became part of my daily existence.
During the following months, I settled into a rhythm. What had at first been strange was now expected. Mom went up north a few times on the weekend to look at houses, but no purchases were made. For better or for worse, that was the way I regarded the move, as something that was only being considered. I knew deep inside that it would eventually come to pass, but for now, it belonged to the future.