But what is life…other than a linear series of events, set in motion to pick you up, only to knock you back down. Peaks and valleys. Highs and lows. How you choose to deal with it, is all that remains.
I slept in pretty late, rolling out of bed at around eleven. I went downstairs to find my sister was already at work, and my mom getting ready to leave for some grocery shopping. It appeared my dad was still home, so I asked my mom if I could go with her. She was fine with it, so ten minutes later, we were on the road.
Going with, proved to be a wise choice. My mom decided we needed to stop by Kohl’s and pick me up some new stuff, because I was growing out of some things. So I went through the racks and picked out a new winter parka, a hoodie, and some track pants. She even took me to the shoe department, where I picked out some new steel toe ass-kicker black boots, and a pair of skate shoes.
Obviously, my mom didn’t hear me come in last night at about two. If she had, she wouldn’t have been so charitable. Our next stop was to, Don Pablo’s, for some enchiladas.
We did finally find our way to the grocery store, where we dropped over a hundred bucks, filling a cart. With that done, we headed for home.
The sun was thinking about setting, by the time we approached the turn-off to our development. I noticed a black BMW pulled up at the corner, with its flashers on, and it’s trunk opened up. There was a woman in what looked like a mans suit, trying to yank a sign out the snowbank that read “Open house today. 12 to 4.” It looked like somebody was moving out of the neighborhood. Nothing too unusual about that.
We pulled into the garage, and I started unloading the groceries for my mom. I helped her put everything away, and then headed up to my room. I was thinking about setting up the IM thing that AJ invited me to do. I followed the links he made in his email, and started setting things up, and downloading stuff. It looked like one of the downloads was going to take a while, so I decided to take my shower for the night now.
I’ve rarely had a shower not feel good, and this was no exception. I spent a lot of time in there, letting the jet pound into the center of my back. I just stood there with my eyes closed, letting the water do it’s magic. I thought back over my weekend, no doubt spending most of my time thinking about last night with Kayla. First, thinking about the highlights. The good parts. But eventually, I got to the weird parts. The parts that didn’t make sense to me. Her strange questions at dinner and her promises she asked of me. I swear she is hiding something from me. But what is it? I don’t understand why she is afraid to talk to me. I’ve told her things I’ve never told anybody else, and I’ve never felt closer to another person before.
I stood and pondered these thoughts for a while, and then it happened. I felt a big thud in the pit of my stomach. All the air escaped my body, and I thought I might lose my bowels, right in the shower. Suddenly, I had a clear picture. All the dots were connected. I knew exactly what was going on.
I turned off the water, dried myself off, sort of, ran to my room naked and grabbed a pair of dirty sweatpants off my floor. I ripped my new parka from the Kohl’s bag, zipping it up as I ran downstairs. I shoved my naked feet into my shoes, and shot out the front door, sprinting toward Kayla’s house. I got about fifty yards from my destination, and I saw it. Illuminated like some kind of fucking idol, standing boldly in the front yard, was a FOR SALE sign. The metal sign, swinging gently, as if waving goodbye to me.
I stepped back a few steps, stunned and reeling. I could feel my legs giving out on me, so I reached behind myself and lowered to the frozen sidewalk. I had yet to release the inhale I took when I saw the sign, and I felt like I might pass out. I fixed my stare to the unwelcome guest, unblinking, unsure how this jumble of emotions was going to play out.
I don’t know how long I sat there, but I became aware of footsteps coming up behind me. Then a warm blanket was draped over my shoulders.
“Let’s go home honey. You’ll catch your death sitting out here. Your hair is frozen solid. Come on. Up you get.”
I obediently stood myself up, not taking my eyes from the front of Kayla’s house. The blanket was wrapped tightly around me, and I was pivoted and directed back toward my house. We walked slowly back down the path without another word spoken. I did become aware of how frozen I was, as violent shivers took over my entire body. My toes and chest were burning, and my ass was wet through my sweatpants.
I was helped up the stairs, and directed into the bathroom.
“Sit here honey. I will draw a bath for you.”
I sat on the closed toilet lid, still having not spoken a word. Still not sure who or where I was.
“Stand up. We need to get these cold, wet clothes off of you, and get you into that tub.”
Again, I wordlessly did as instructed, all the way to being aided into the warm bath by my armpits.
“I will check on you in a little while. I’ll bring you up a hot tea. Or would you prefer a hot cider? Never mind, I’ll bring both.”
Sitting alone, the warm water started to do its work. My body was returning to a comfortable temperature. A while later, my mom came in with two mugs, as promised, and I buried my hands into the depths, to cover myself.
“I see my boy is back. Seriously Daniel. It’s nothing I haven’t seen before.”
She was right, and I did need both my hands to grab a mug, so I reached over for the cider.
“You feeling any better? I don’t think you were out there long enough to get frostbite, but what in the world were you thinking?”
I didn’t really want to say it, because it would confirm for me that this was real. I didn’t want to believe it, yet I heard my weak and defeated voice say, “she’s moving mom. Kayla is moving away.”
My words were joined by the first of many tears, streaking down my cheeks.
My mom knelt beside the tub and rubbed my tears with her thumb. “I know honey. I’m so sorry. You two had grown very close.”
“I don’t want her to go.”
My mom cradled my head into her chest.
“Shh. Shh. It’s okay. Let it out.”
“She didn’t even tell me.”
And there went the floodgates. I cried like a baby into my mothers embrace, until the water went cold.
“Come on sweetie. Out of the water.”
As my mother dried my still shaking body, and put a soft robe over me, I started to sob once again.
“I really love her mom. I don’t want her to go.”
“Oh sweetheart, I wish I could make it better for you. That’s the risk we take in giving our heart over to someone else. Especially such an emotional boy like you. It hurts dear. I know it.”
“She was the one mom. I just know.”
“It will take time honey, but you will find another. It’s your first heartbreak.”
“Why didn’t she tell me she was leaving?”
“I’m sure she wanted to, but she’s probably scared. She’s grown very fond of you Daniel. I’m sure the last thing she wants to do is hurt you, or leave. Let me fix you something to eat, ok?”
“Can you bring it to my room? I kind of just want to be in there. Alone.”
“Sure thing sweetie.”
I pulled on a pair of flannel pants and a sweatshirt, and crawled on top of my bed. I laid there with my hands behind my head, just staring at the ceiling. Thinking. I actually managed a smile when I recognized how Kayla tried to tip-toe around what has been bothering her all week. In my mind, I stepped back into her house. Not only was her room so clean and empty. The entire house was. It was cleaned up and staged for the open house. Why didn’t I see that before? It was so obvious. When I was over there before, it was very cluttered.
And Kayla all but told me to live for the moment, and don’t change, as if she wouldn’t be there to see me. Or asking if we’d still be friends in ten years. Albeit, distant friends. A very important detail. She was getting around to telling me, sort of. I still had no idea what I should do the next time I see her.
As I sifted through so many confusing thoughts, there was a soft knock at my door. Followed by my mom entering with a tray of food. What is it about mothers, that gives them the ability to snatch from thin air, the perfect comfort food, without even asking. I sat up, with my back against a pillow, as she strode up with the tray, placing it gently on my lap. There sat my most favorite meal. A steaming bowl of tomato soup. Half a row of saltine crackers. A cross-cut grilled cheese sandwich (on forbidden white bread). We do not get white bread in my house, except for very special occasions. Where did she have this bread hidden? Oh, and of course, a tall glass of ice cold skin milk. This is, without a doubt, my favorite combination of food, when I’m looking for a little more than something to fill my tummy. It’s comforting. It’s a reliable friend. It’s rainy day food. It’s the go to when I need to chase the Minnesota winter blues away. And right now, it was my perfect medicine.
I wolfed down every last bit and took the tray back downstairs. I thanked my mom and gave her a big hug, before returning back upstairs to my sanctuary. I noticed my laptop was still flipped open, but had turned itself off long ago. I wondered how the download went, but decided I didn’t care enough to see. I closed my computer, as well as my blinds and crawled back into bed. I realized it was a good two hours before my usual sleep time, but crying is very exhausting work, and I was ready for dreamland.