It was shy over two months after my graduation when I received a call from a secretary of a publishing company. This company happened to be one of the biggest publishing companies in New York, if not THE biggest. Upon perusing my resume, they were somehow impressed with my achievements, and they wanted me to come for an interview. I was over the moon! What’s more, the secretary mentioned that this junior editor job was as good as mine since they couldn’t find anyone else who was more qualified than me. However, the setback was that I am staying in Portland. New York City is over a thousand kilometres from home, and I have never been out. Should I go for it? Should I take my chances?
Layla, my cousin, who’s working in a hotel in New York City, was ecstatic that I’d decided to go for that interview. It’s just an interview, I thought. I was not even sure I’d get the job, but Layla was very confident that I would ace it. Besides, it was time for me to spread my wings, she said. If I knew Layla, she would want me to stay with her since we haven’t seen each other in quite a while, well, minus the Skype’ing. We are more like sisters than cousins, and both of us are of the same age.
I got to think, why not? Mom and Dad would want me to be happy with my decision. They’d gone for two years now in a freak flight accident, and I stayed in Portland so that I could be close to their belongings. I wanted to feel like they were still around me. I missed them so much. Sadly, I had begun to be afraid of flying after what happened to them. In addition, the devastation almost cost me my studies since I couldn’t concentrate after their demise. Still, I took extra effort because I wanted to make them proud of me, so I finished my bachelor’s degree with a Dean’s List for four years at the University of Portland. Now, all that’s left is for me to get a job. What I needed to do was to give my all for the interview.
New York City. It would take about three days of driving with stops in between, and no, I refused to fly. It would take a while for me to adjust to get into a plane again, but I was in no hurry right now. My parents left me enough to survive till I was old and wilted. I have a villa and a condominium to my name, and I could choose from the three luxurious cars that were parked in the garage for the past two years. Somehow, I picked my own Pacific Blue Chevrolet Trax instead of being flashy. Besides, it has a roof rack that I could put extra luggage on it. It would save so much time to bring all my necessities with me rather than returning to Portland later to get all my stuff. Provided I accept the job, that is. But if I decide not to, I’ll bring back everything home. Easy peasy.
I loved travelling, it’s been my passion, and I never missed an opportunity to travel to new places in the past. However, I curbed the yearning since it hurt too much when I could no longer travel with Mom and Dad. Somehow, I felt this journey would change my life, and it’s long, so I’ve decided to start early in the morning.
I loaded my car with luggage the evening afore, and at 5:00 a.m. sharp, I started my journey. In the wee hours, the weather was delightful, and there was no rush on the roads at all. It was difficult to leave the home I grew in, with many endearing moments, but it had to be done. I said my goodbyes to nobody in particular, yet it blanketed my heart. Since I was unfamiliar with the roads, I put the navigation system on the whole time. By 10:00 a.m. I was able to cover a lot of distances. My stomach started to rumble, and I realised I must stop for breakfast and a gas refill.
It didn’t take much time to fill myself up since I needed to cover many more kilometres before I stopped at the next town to call it a night. But I couldn’t help but stop a few points in between to click some photographs to preserve the memories of this drive. After that, I sped up, searching for a comfortable place to spend the night in every next town. Finally, I found one. I was pretty exhausted, so I couldn’t care less if the motel was small for me as long as I could rest my tired and aching body.
After dinner that night, Layla went on FaceTime with me, inquiring about my whereabouts. Her excitement and delight were contagious, and it showed on her face, giggling with glee at the thought of me becoming her roommate.
“I can’t wait for you to be here, Ami,” Layla squealed.
“Boy, I never knew driving could be this tiring, girl. Ugh… And I have to drive the whole day again tomorrow,” I moaned.
“I know I said I couldn’t wait for you to be here, but if you need to stop often, please do so. I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you, so drive safe, all right,” Layla lamented. “But for your next night stop, I would suggest an inn by the lake in Aurora, which I have been to before. It is the most charming and quaint place to spend time gazing at the peaceful reflections of the lake,” Layla said dreamily.
“And pray tell, who have you been there with?” I questioned as I studied her expression.
“No one,” she stammered, for once looking flustered.
“You know I could tell when you’re lying, Layla. You were never good at it,” I said matter-of-factly as I folded my arms.
“Ami…” she sighed, contemplating whether to spill her secrets to me or not.
“What, Layla? You know I keep all your secrets safe with me. Why is this time any different?” I provoked.
“I know, babe, but this is something Mama and Papa should never find out. This guy loves me, really do. I love him too, but he’s not a young man,” Layla declared.
“We’re twenty-two, love. Consenting adults. Now, why should age be a barrier?” I tried reasoning with her.
“Do you know how old Papa is?” Layla asked.
“Of course I do. He’s my dad’s brother. Umm, forty-five, right?” I mulled.
“Yeah. Well, Brian is a year younger,” she stared at me questioningly.
“Wow…” I murmured.