TIMBERLY, OHIO (OR “HOW I ENDED UP AT PROM IN DIAPERS”)
“What do you mean we’re moving?” I asked.
“Your dad received an excellent job offer,” Mom started.
“Let me explain,” Dad continued. “I received a phone call today while you were at school. Someone from the ad department at the Timberly-Mark Corportation found my portfolio and finds my work unique. To keep it simple, Timberly-Mark wants to hire me.”
“You mean that company that makes paper towels and stuff?”
“Yes, paper towels and stuff.”
“Seems kind of random,” I commented.
“Well random as you think it is,” Mom began, “your dad was offered a monthly salary much higher than what he usually makes per year through his freelance work.”
“Dad, that’s great! But I don’t get why we have to move.”
“Am, have you heard of what’s called a company town?” Dad asked me.
“I think so, but remind me?”
“It’s a town owned by the company, and everyone who lives there works for the company.”
“Like Hershey, Pennsylvania?”
“Exactly, well sort of. Timberly-Mark’s headquarters exist in a town in Ohio, called Timberly of course. They want us to move there so I can work directly with the company heads.”
“So that’s that then? We’re just going to pick up and leave? When do we move out? This summer? Next month?”
“Next week,” Mom responded.
“Next week? Are you kidding me?”
“The Sunday after this one,” Dad clarified. “Sorry, Am. I tried to bargain with them a little, explaining I have an unreasonable teenage daughter who likes to disobey her parents.”
“Haha, very funny, Dad.”
“I thought so. But seriously, I did mention how I had a family and that moving so quickly would be difficult, especially with the price of moving. But they told me if I waited any longer they would have to hire someone else, and based on some of the benefits they’re offering not just me but the entire family, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. Not to mention they’re actually sending people to help us move.”
“You’ll adjust, sweetie,” Mom tried to assure me. “You don’t see Tasha complaining.”
“No shit, Mom. She’s three years old! She isn’t losing fifteen years of friends and places she knows really well.”
“Amber, language!” said Mom, obviously not regarding what I just said. “Last thing we need is your sister saying words like that.”
“I know it’s not exactly ideal,” Dad began, “but you’ll adjust. From what I’ve heard, kids your age absolutely love it there. You’ll make new friends, find new places to hang out… hey, you could start over completely if you wanted to.”
The conversation didn’t change much beyond that. Some more complaining from my end, some more joking from Dad’s end, and a lot more of less than helpful “assurance” from Mom’s end. At last I stormed off to my room, jumped onto my bed, and sulked on my pillow. I thought about Dad’s words; I could start over completely if I wanted to.
I thought about it a bit. Sure, I’ve lived in Wheeling all my life. But the idea of starting completely over started to sound kind of interesting. I could take on a new persona just for the fun of it, like a vampire girl or a dirty hipster. No matter what I chose to be, I didn’t have to be the quiet art girl anymore.
How many close friends did I really have here in Wheeling? I knew plenty of people, but the only person I would really miss was Jade. Jade! I needed to call her and tell her what was happening. I grabbed my cell phone from my pocket and quickly hit the “2” button (that’s her speed dial number; it would be “1” if that wasn’t automatically voicemail).
“Hey girl!” I heard Jade’s static voice through the phone. “Miss me already? I only left you like thirty minutes ago!”
I started this conversation the best way I could. “Jade, I’m moving away.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
I explained the situation to my best friend, and about halfway through I broke into tears. When I finished—or at least when I said all I could say through my tears—all that I heard through the phone was dead silence.
Finally Jade said something. “Dude, that’s seriously messed up.”
“I know, right?” I said. “I’m happy for my dad, but it completely messes up my life.”
“Well girl, you still got a week left. Let’s make the most of it.”
Jade was right. I could still make the most of it. I hung out every night with Jade, visiting all my favorite places in town since our childhood. (Homework obviously didn’t matter to me at this point, and Jade never really cared in the first place). At some point during the week, word got out at school that I would be moving away, and suddenly people I hadn’t talked to in years were saying goodbye to me. Yet the week made me realize that I didn’t really have that many close friends besides Jade, just a big network of classmates. What if I had trouble making friends in the new town? This thought made me nervous, but Jade tried to keep me relaxed.
“Girl, remember, you’re awesome,” she constantly said to me. “And I’m just a phone call away.”
On my very last Friday during that very last week, Darrin approached me during art class. “So I’m planning on doing dinner at Four Gorillas,” he told me. “You like it?”
“Um, Darrin, I’m moving,” I pointed out. Did he completely miss the memo?
“Oh I know, but that’s not going to stop you from coming, right? There’s no way you’d want to turn down prom with me.”
Good thing his handsomeness triumphed over his pompousness. But Darrin had a point. I could easily take a bus down from Timberly for prom, or any other weekend as well. Why hadn’t I thought of that?
It was possibly the busiest week of my life, with school already occupying 7 hours each day and my need to hang out with Jade each night. My “free time” was spent cleaning my room, organizing my room, and placing my stuff into cardboard boxes. Then when I grew tired of my room, I had to help out with the dozens of other rooms around the house, even Tasha’s. Tedious work, but it was cool finding all the lost items behind cabinets and desks.
Friday morning before I left for school, a huge truck and a van of muscular men arrived at our house. Apparently they were the movers sent by the company to help us pack up. By the time I returned home from school, it looked like half the house was missing. On Saturday, the other half would disappear.
I spent Saturday night at Jade’s house, partially because my entire bedroom was gone but mostly because I knew it would be my last time seeing her for who knows how long. I expected we would spend the night crying, but it turned out not at all. We chatted like we usually did, and we even watched our favorite movie Professor Awful’s Musical Status Updates. It was just like any of our typical slumber parties since kindergarten.
The following morning we both walked back to my house. Or what once was my house, for now it was completely empty. All my family’s stuff was split amongst the moving truck and our van. It was time to go.
“See ya, girl,” Jade said as she gave me a hug that felt like it lasted a century. “Call me every night. And I’ll keep you updated on Darrin Mavarick.”
“Thanks Jade,” I said back to her. With that I joined my family as we prepared to leave.
After a brief checking through boxes (Mom thought one of her pieces of jewelry had been misplaced) and the final “potty for the road” (for Tasha’s sake), we were off. I looked through the window and watched Jade disappear into the distance. She was smiling, but I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe she was crying.
In little time, we passed the West Virginia state line. And so it was. I was about to start a new life.
Little did I know just how different my life would soon become.