August 20th, around 8:00PM
I waited for Heather to pull up for a sudden Starbucks run and hurried to finish my make-up in the downstairs bathroom. My purse was filled to the brim with any extra small thing that couldn’t fit into my suitcase, so finding the tube of mascara I sought proved to be a challenge.
Heather had sent me a text minutes about five minutes prior and said she was in town at her parent’s house, and suggested we grab a cup of coffee.
I looked like a bit of a mess, I had been packing and cleaning all day and didn’t expect to be going out. I heard the truck pull up and tried without luck to get my purse to latch, there was simply too much in it, so I quickly pulled out a book, the stuffed animal squirrel Heather got me for my birthday and several large pieces of jewelry and finally managed to shut my bag as I made my way to the front door. I stepped out into the night to discover it was pleasantly cool for this time of year, and looked over to the truck to see Heather moving a few things into the back seat to make room in the front. I shut the front door and tried the knob to make sure it was locked before walking over and getting in the car.
“Hey.” I said, jumping in and closing the door.
“Hi.” She said. There was something different about her. She looked positively flawless.
I told her about meeting with Jon, she told me about life in the new house. Within ten minutes we were sitting by the window in Starbucks, sipping our drinks.
There was something different about the entire situation, though. For the first time since the day we met, our conversation was difficult, awkward, polite and slightly forced. There was an odd tension that I had never felt in Heather’s presence before. Suddenly she asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?” She was referring to leaving the next morning for West Virginia.
“Of course I am.”
“It’s just…you seem more scared than excited these days.”
“Well, I am-”
“Did you really think this through?” She interrupted me. I read her face and realized that she asked to get coffee for a specific reason, she was going to talk sense into me.
“No, I didn’t.” I answered honestly, “Things came up that I didn’t expect, there was no way to be fully prepared.” I was extremely curious, Heather had offered to help me in so many ways when it came to leaving Texas, I didn’t understand this new side of her. I wasn’t angry or hurt, just, curious.
“Okay, I know you’re probably not going to like this.” She said, pressing her hands together in a praying form, a signal used when someone is trying to explain a very specific point, “But you could live with us.” Whatever expression I had in reaction to that made her suddenly speak faster, “Just until January! With us you wouldn’t have to pay rent, you could get your license, I could drive you to work and you can save up money until you leave. It’s just four months.”
“I don’t know, Heather…I just can’t, I need to go.” I replied weakly. Several different emotions and a dozen different ideas were flying about my mind. The last thing I wanted was a new reality, especially a reality that involved staying in Texas.
“Because that’s somewhere new for me, and I just need to begin. I-it’s just- I don’t…I’m so behind already, Heather.” Out of nowhere I felt myself choke up, “Right now everyone I know is off at college and what am I right now? I’m a kid, with no job and who isn’t working on her education. I just don’t want to rely on anyone for anything anymore, especially since I have nothing right now, no life. I can finally start things if I go.”
“Hannah,” She took a breath, “I know it’s not the big, dramatic exit that you wanted, and I know Decatur isn’t really that great of a place. But you do realize, four months from now Shepherdstown is still going to be there, everything you want to start you can still start, but it doesn’t have to be tomorrow. And how long can you be financially stable before you’d run out of money need to come back anyway? The job options there are just as bad as California and you have no guarantee that it’s going to work out. Do you really think you can manage working just to make it by and work on your projects and eventually try to go to school, all at once?”
“I know it doesn’t make sense, I don’t make sense. But I just can’t stay here. I know it’s going to be difficult but I just-”
“Can’t wait for a few months?”
I thought of the train taking off without me, I thought of what the air at the station at the Martinsburg would be like when I’d arrive. What the weather might be like. My heart sank when I realized that I was starting to agree with Heather. I started shaking my head, it was too much change, too many new plans. I was angry with myself for being an emotional sissy, it just hurt, the change. Saying goodbye to one dream and plan, and then the next. I didn’t want any more change. I wanted to get on the train and deal with whatever happened when it happened.
She spoke again when I didn’t reply, “This is the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do, and you know it. It may not be how you wanted to leave, but it’s the better way.”
We spoke for about two hours and eventually there came a moment when I interrupted her and said, “Okay, I’ll stay.”
She looked up at me with complete and utter shock, “What?”
“I’ll do it, I’ll stay until January.”
The brightest smile appeared on her face and she jumped up and hugged me and jumped around for a few seconds, knocking over her latte in the process. She acted like it was the best thing to happen since sliced bread, and her enthusiasm has always been infectious, but for once in my life I felt…numb. I tried to seem happier, but I could only smile. We cleaned up her spilled coffee and talked about what arrangements to make and exactly when I’d move in.
I stepped back into my home in a daze, wondering if I really just let go of my plan…and then wondering if the AmTrak site was serious about my ticket being non-refundable…I walked up to my loft and opened my partition to see the mess that my room has become due to my frantic packing and searching for favorite clothing items to stuff into my nearly bursting suitcase. Everything spoke of who I was before I left the house three hours ago. I walked back downstairs to my mom in the kitchen and told her the news before quietly walking back upstairs and crying for a bit. I decided I needed to tell someone and logged onto my e-mail to see that Madame Emily was online. We talked about it for a while until I started drifting off and decided to go to sleep at around midnight.
I don’t regret not getting on the train, but I will always wonder ‘what if?’.
I suppose a few months won’t make a difference in the long run, and I’m still planning on starting a vlog series based on my People Who Read People posts next month.
Everything is going to turn out just fine, as things usually do. Though it is sort of a shame that I didn’t get my dramatic exit, the timing was rather perfect. I suppose this means I need ya’ll to help me find a way to leave dramatically, that shall be your homework for the week.
Until I Write Again,