I watched the trees whip past in blurs as my earphones dangled precariously in my ears. The Red by Chevelle playing softly through the buds as I zoned out. I tried to focus on the phone in front of me, but I couldn’t pay attention to anything. I had several tabs open for dozens of colleges that I was considering for next year. I’d been going over the same information for months, but deadlines were fast approaching, and I needed to decide where my applications were going to go. I knew my heart was leaning towards a profession in journalism, but for reasons I was too scared to admit, not only to others but myself as well.
I let out an annoyed huff and my mother said calmly from the passenger seat, “Don’t worry sweetie, we’ll be there soon.”
“You said that two hours ago. I’ve already listened to my rock playlist six times,” I said as I ran a hand through my wavy, chestnut-colored, hair.
“Believe me, we’re almost there. The GPS says about thirty more minutes depending on traffic.”
“Traffic? I haven’t seen a car in miles.”
My father cut in from the driver’s seat and said, “Just have some patience, Layla. We’ll get there when we get there,”
“I don’t see why we have to move. Just because you got a promotion doesn’t mean we have to be punished.”
“You’re not being punished, and neither is your mother. This is a wonderful opportunity for me, and this could be a fun adventure for the three of us.”
“Well, at least I’ll be gone by next fall, so I won’t have to live in this dinky little town longer than I have to.”
“I know it’s nothing like Florida, but it’s not dinky. It’s a lovely place in the canyons and I think you’ll grow to love it.”
“I don’t think so.”
My mother tried to reason with me. “Give it a chance, sweetie. I’m happy for your father, and you should be too. I agree with him. This will be a fun adventure for all of us, and I’m sure we’ll make fun memories here before you leave for college.”
My dad reached for my mother’s hand, but I didn’t miss the slight hesitation in her movements as she went to reciprocate it. I knew she was still skeptical about all the time my dad spent at his old job, wondering if he was actually working during that time, or fooling around. I thought this move would help them put the past behind them, but maybe not.
As they continued to hold hands lovingly, it was easy to notice their differences. Her ivory complexion was a stark contrast to my dad’s caramel-like one. Most of their appearance and personality were quite the opposite of each other, but that didn’t keep them apart. He was a nerd with thick, black-framed glasses and bright blue eyes. He had a crooked smile and ebony hair that he wore in a short, afro-like ‘do. My mother was beautiful with golden brown locks that cascaded down her back, light hazel eyes, and every element of a would-be model. No matter how many times they told me, I always wondered why they were together, so I questioned them once again. “How did you guys wind up together?”
“I thought we told you this?” my dad asked.
“Yeah, but it’s still hard to believe that you two wound up together, not to mention stayed together for twenty plus years. Especially when you’re both the complete opposite of one another.”
“Just because we have a substantial amount of differences doesn’t mean we can’t be together. Geeky men and women can wind up with gorgeous and handsome partners too. It may seem unusual to many people, especially since they believe it only happens in movies or books, but it can happen.”
My mother chimed in and said, “Plus, everyone’s beautiful and handsome in their own right, and they’re bound to find someone who views them that way.”
“Exactly, I thought your mother wouldn’t be interested in the slightest when I met her at a bar in Miami, but she was the sweetest woman I ever talked to. I may have judged her when I first saw her gorgeous features, but once I got to know her, she turned out to be the most humble, down to earth, and humorous woman I ever met. I completely forgot how I first perceived her and wound up not wanting to leave her side.”
“Aww… Frank. That’s how I felt too. You were amazing and weren’t like the other men who only hit on me for my looks. You made me feel like you actually wanted to listen and liked what I had to say.”
“Why’d you give up acting, though?” I asked.
“To be with your father, of course. He wanted to move up in his programming career for years, so once I had you, I knew he should continue doing what he loves while I take care of you. There weren’t many acting jobs out there for me anyway, so instead of hearing rejection after rejection, I could hear my baby laugh, babble, and talk as you continued to grow.”
My dad continued, “I was grateful that your mother supported me and stuck with me during the highs and lows of my career. We wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for her.”
I responded with a hint of sarcasm laced in my voice, “Gee… I’m so glad all of this played out well, so we could move to the middle of nowhere in New Mexico.”
“Don’t start, Layla. Just be thankful for what we have.”
“Whatever… I just hope we get there soon.”
“Only a few more miles.”
I looked back out the window, thinking about their romance and marriage story. As much as I wanted something like theirs someday, I knew the pretty picture they painted wasn’t exactly how their marriage was. They tried to hide their problems from me, even each other, but it was easy to see through the cracks. I wish they’d acknowledge the downfalls in their relationship before it combusts into an issue that can’t be fixed.
At last, we drove into the quaint town that was just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The state was the complete opposite of Florida: cacti instead of palm trees, clay-like soil instead of white sandy beaches, and large rock-like canyons instead of flat land. It may have only taken another thirty minutes, but I was about to go hysterical if I had to sit in that car any longer. We pulled into our huge new driveway and I was amazed at the elegant house that was presented in front of me. It was massive, and I couldn’t believe the wonderful sight I was staring at. When my dad said it was two stories with two garages, three and a half baths, and five bedrooms, I honestly didn’t picture it this way. I shut the music off on my phone, placing it in my pocket before I got out of the car and stretched my legs. As I stretched, I got a better look at our house, since I wasn’t peering at it through the tinted windows of our car anymore. The outside was colored in a nice eggshell white paint, but it looked like it had a hint of a glossy appearance to it. It was amazing, and so far, the move didn’t feel too bad because this was way nicer than our old house.
My dad stood beside me and asked, “Do you like it?”
“I love it. It’s amazing. I can’t wait to see the inside,” I said.
“Well, I hope the inside is to your satisfaction as well. I heard this place has a pool and a deck too, but the deck needs a little fixing and touching up.”
“Sweet. You know I love to swim.”
“Yep, that’s what made me pick this house. I hope you like it here.”
“Me too, Dad.”
“Come on you two. We need to start unloading these vehicles, so I can get some shut-eye when it’s done,” my mom said.
“Then let’s get this show on the road,” my dad said.
The two men in the moving van we hired started to help us unload our stuff from their truck. I watched as everyone started to collect boxes before walking over to our car’s trunk. As I went to grab a couple of boxes from it, I caught a glimpse of our neighbor’s house across the street. It looked like the person was watching us from their window, hiding behind their maroon-colored curtain, so we couldn’t see them. I couldn’t tell if they were male or female, but they seemed shady the way they hid from view. I shrugged my shoulders nonchalantly and grabbed two boxes that were marked with the word “kitchen” in big bold letters. I carried them to their rightful destination and did the same with the hundreds of other boxes we had to unload.
Eventually, we had all of our boxes in the house, and the moving men left with a generous tip from my dad. There was no way we were going to unpack today, so we did the essentials like dining utensils, bath supplies, and some clothes. Since it was around dinner time, we ordered out. As we ate the pizza we ordered, my mom decided to strike up a conversation. “So, are you ready for school tomorrow?”
“I don’t think anyone’s ever ready for school. Also, why did we have to come the day before school started?” I asked.
“You know why Layla. I had a few important things to do at work before we could move here. I’m sorry it was a day before school, but sometimes we can’t control things,” my dad said.
“I understand that, but can’t I just go on Tuesday?”
“No, and that’s final. It will be easier on the first day anyway because everyone is going back.”
“Easy for you to say, you’re not the one going.”
“Do you think it’s easy to start up at a new job site? I need to learn about all my new coworkers and bosses. That’s not easy either.”
“Yeah, but high school’s harder. Especially since it’s my senior year.”
My mother spoke up and said, “We know it’s hard, Layla. Maybe you can try something new, like joining a club or a sports team.”
“I’ll think about it, but I can’t promise anything,” I said.
“That’s all we’re asking for sweetie. We love you and hope your senior year is a good one.”
“I hope so too.”
We finished eating in silence and my mind kept wandering to school tomorrow. I hated school, but at least at my old school, I knew most of my schoolmates since kindergarten. Here, I was starting from nothing. It wasn’t even easy fitting in at my old school, but I managed. I just hope I could find a good group of people tomorrow and get this senior year over with.