“Travis!” she squeals the moment she opens the door and sees me. “I can’t believe you’re here!” She takes a step forward and wraps her arms around me.
I smile as she squeezes me a tad too tight. She notices I wince and quickly steps back. “Sorry, I’m just so excited you’re here.”
Shrugging with a guilty smile, I say, “Well, I figured it was finally time to come home.”
She leads me inside, and I follow. Everything looks the same, and it feels like I’m walking through a time capsule from my childhood. My father is sitting in the living room in the same chair he’s always sat in, usually with a six-pack and the remote, but this time he’s with a magazine and a glass of ice water.
“Look who came for a visit,” my mother says, grabbing his attention up to mine. His reaction is clear. He’s completely shocked, but he doesn’t make the first move to speak.
“Son.” He nods. “You look good.”
“Thanks.” I follow my mother’s lead and sit on the sofa across from him. “You do, too.” The first thing I notice about my father is that he’s sober. I think it’s the first time in my life I’ve seen him sober.
“Wish I could say I feel as good as I look, but…”
“Yeah, Mom told me.” I brush a hand over my jawline. “What’s the diagnosis?”
“Stage four cancer.” He says it as casually as if I were asking him about the weather. He looks like he’s accepted the terms of his destiny, but when I glance over at my mother and see her frown, it’s obvious she hasn’t. I know she loves my father and will go through this with him until the end, but I wish he had treated her better to merit such loyalty.
We spend the afternoon talking over lunch. It’s been years since I’ve felt like I’ve had a family, and even though I still have a lot of resentment toward him, I’m glad I came. I know my mom is going to need a lot of support, whether she wants to admit it or not.
It’s been a week since I’ve arrived in Boston, which is beautiful in the summer, but I’m still suffering from the jet lag. The three-hour time difference has messed with my sleeping schedule, and I’m so exhausted. I’ve been struggling to wake up to my alarm every morning. I’ve also been suffering from these annoying headaches and nausea. I looked it up, and I guess it’s pretty common if you experience jet lag, so I’m hoping my body gets used to it soon. Either that or the nerves are wreaking havoc on my entire body.
Even texting Drew or Courtney is becoming a challenge. When I’m up and ready for work at eight, they’re still in bed and barely functioning. I’ve learned not to expect a response from Courtney until my lunch break.
I only brought the essentials with me, so unpacking was a breeze. I managed to find a furnished studio apartment, and with the company’s payment plan, it’s actually affordable. It’s only four hundred square feet, but it’s cute and works for me. The day after I arrived, I FaceTimed Courtney and showed her around. She nearly gasped when I showed her the tiny bathroom.
“Can you even pee in there?” She asked as I gave her the tour. The answer is yes, but it’s not easy. The door has to be left open. Otherwise, my knees hit the paneling.
The kitchen isn’t a kitchen at all, but rather a kitchenette with a tiny sink, a mini fridge, and a one-burner stove. It doubles as my bedroom, which is fine by me since I’m only home to sleep or shower anyway. But the one bonus is the rooftop deck and community garden I get to use.
I’ve been at the firm five days now, which is terrifying and exciting all at once. My boss, Henry O’Connor, is extremely intimidating. I do most of the bitch work, but I know once I prove myself, I’ll be able to handle some group projects.
By the time my day ends and I make it back to my little hole of an apartment, it’s after seven. I’m exhausted and hungry, and the only thing that keeps me sane is talking to Courtney throughout the day. Drew checks in on me every couple of days, and I know he’s worried about me, but I need to prove to him and myself that I’m capable of doing this. I left home at eighteen, graduated college with honors, and now I’m ready for whatever the real world throws at me.
C: It’s been years since I’ve gotten laid. My vagina is starting to prune.
The first thing I see when I wake up is a text message from Courtney, from the night before. I laugh and send her a text back.