Saturday, December 20, 2014

Riding Waves by Susan Marie Schulhof December 20, 2014

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March 2012

      As I get ready for work, I realize that Dan and I have not fought in almost a month. I am not sure why exactly, but I decided last month that I was not going to let Dan’s behavior make me do things that I don’t want to do anymore. We are both really busy with work and school so we usually only see each other on the weekend lately too. Even then, we seem to only go to parties with other people, so we don’t actually talk that much which helps us not fight.
    Since my brother and I go to the same community college, and my sisters are on spring break at the same time, my parents surprised us with a trip to Florida. I can’t wait to get away. Dan is not happy that I am going to be gone for a whole week, but my parents said that since we are getting older, it might be the last time we can all get away on vacation together. My parents, Jake and I were all able to get off work too, so it felt like it was meant to be. I did not want to be the only one staying home even though Dan loved the idea that we could “play house” all week.
    My grandparents, Grandma Elisabeth and Grandpa Robert, rented a place in Florida for the winter since they just retired, but my dad has a friend that owns a condo on Sanibel Island so we are staying there since my grandparent’s place is too small for all of us anyway. My dad’s friend, Al, said that it is right on the beach, so we are all really excited. It is big enough that my grandparent’s will be able to stay with us for a couple of days as well. It has been hard not seeing them since they went down there in the fall. They still have a house in South Haven, so they came home just for Thanksgiving through Christmas, but I miss seeing them every week. My dad said that they love it so much though, that they are going to sell their house in South Haven and buy a place of their own in Florida.
   Ashley came home last week for her Spring break. She loves being at college and is not looking forward to coming home for the summer. I am enjoying my classes at college, but since I still live at home, it isn’t the same. Ashley and I barely talk though, and I only saw her for lunch one time the whole week that she was home.
   “Harper, can you help us decide what to pack?” Ava asks as she walks into my room. Her and Sara just turned thirteen so I know that they are getting very concerned about clothes and make up.
  “Sure, when I get home from work,” I tell her as I finish getting ready. I say goodbye to everyone before I get into my mom’s car to drive to work.
   I just need to work at the restaurant tonight, and we leave tomorrow. I work as a hostess so if it is busy I could be there late though. Hopefully, we won’t be crowded even though it is a Friday night. Dan has to work as well so we spent last night together, and he wants to stop by tomorrow morning before we leave. He still works at the pizza place at the mall, so it will probably be really busy. When we went out to dinner last night, he just sat there with this sad puppy dog look the whole time.
  “I wish you weren’t going, Harper.”
  “I know. Me too, but you know how important a family vacation is to my parents,“ I explained even though I cannot wait to go.
  “Can you text me everyday? You know that I need to talk to you to stay sane,” he asked me. Most people think that he is this tough guy, which he is, but he can be very needy and sensitive as well. I remember when I thought the idea of a boyfriend saying that he couldn’t live without me was romantic.
  “Of course, I will.”
   After we ate, we went to the baseball field and climbed into the back of his truck. I really wanted to go home to get ready for the trip, but I just didn’t have the energy to get into a fight tonight. I was not going to let Dan do anything to ruin the good mood that I was in. I kept thinking about the beach and what else I needed to pack as he pulled down his pants and climbed on top of me. We had sex for the first time in January. Dan had been pressuring me since we started dating, and I really wanted to wait until I was older, but it happened one night after a night of drinking. Now he just assumes every time that we are together that we will have sex in the back of his truck.
   We didn’t talk as we got in the front of his truck, and he drove me home. He probably thought that I was quiet because I was thinking about how much I am going to miss him, but really I just kept thinking about Florida.
   “Well, I love you Dan,” I told him when I kissed him goodnight at my house.
   “I love you more today than yesterday Harper,” he yelled as I got out of his truck. I remember how sweet I thought that was the first time that he said it to me. That seems like so long ago, and I barely feel like the girl that he said it to many months ago. It is hard to remember the girl that I used to be.
   I get to work by five. It is really busy already since it is a Friday.
   “ Hi Jenny. Need me to pick up menus?” I ask.
    “No. I just did, but do you want to take names, and I’ll seat people?”
   We are so busy that we don’t have any time to talk. Two other people start working at six, but then by nine-thirty, it is gets so slow that my boss lets me go home early.
    Since my mom let me use her car for work, I pull into the garage and go in the house.
   “Ava, Sara. I’m home. Are you packed?”
   “No. We were waiting for you,” Ava says without taking her eyes off of the television.
   “Well. Let’s go,” I say as I turn off the TV.
    We spend the next two hours going through all of their summer clothes. I must admit that they are growing up. They have cute little figures and will definitely get some attention at the beach. Luckily, they still are short so they at least look closer to their real ages. They are twins and look like sisters, but they aren’t identical. Sara is a little shorter and has more of an athletic build. She is more outgoing and talkative. Ava is slightly taller and built more like our mother. They both have our mom’s wavy blond hair, but they tan easily like our dad though. Jake and I look more like our dad with our curly brown hair.
    “I still need to finish packing since Dan is stopping by before we leave tomorrow morning so goodnight sissies.”
   “Thanks for helping us, Harper,” says Ava.
   “Yeah. Thanks,” repeats Sara.
   I finish putting out my make up and hair stuff that I will need in the morning and put my book and a couple of magazines into my carry-on and crawl into bed.
   I jump out of bed when my alarm goes off even though it is early. I need to finish getting ready before Dan comes over in case he stays until we leave for the airport. I slip on a pink t-shirt and black yoga pants since I want to be comfortable while flying. I toss a pair of shorts and my black swimsuit into my carry-on, in case my luggage gets lost, I will be ready. I need to tell Ava and Sara to do that as well.
   Just as I carry my suitcase downstairs, I hear Dan’s truck pull up so I walk out to see him. I notice that he looks awful as I get closer to him.
   “Are you sick?” I ask.
   “No. Just hung over. We went out after work and since I’m going to miss you so much, I drank way too much.”
   I want to tell him that is not my fault that he drank too much and that he is probably still drunk, not hung over, but I just bite my tongue. “Well I hope you feel better.”
   “Well text me when you land. I haven’t been home all night so I’m going to try and get some sleep since I work later today.”
  “Okay. I love you,” I tell him as I give him a kiss. He smells horrible like cigarettes and alcohol. I should care who he was out with all night, but I am in too good of a mood, and I just don’t want to get into a fight.
   “I love you,” he groans as he climbs back into the truck.
   I am shocked at how fast and easy that was, as I walk back in the house and wake up Ava and Sara.
   “Time for Florida,” I yell as I walk into their room.  
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Friday, December 19, 2014

Riding Waves by Susan Marie Schulhof December 19, 2014

   I look at my phone first thing when I wake up, but there is no text from Ashley. I send her a text as I go downstairs to have some breakfast.

Home yet? Can’t wait to see you!

She responds quickly.

Come by and say hi. We are home but my dad is making us unpack and clean before we can go out.

I send back.

 Okay. See you in 20 minutes.

   I finish my cereal, get dressed, and ask my mom if I can go to Ashley’s just for a little bit. She says yes so I ride my bike over there.
   Her brother, Dan, answers the door so I say, “Welcome home. Is Ashley here?”
   “Yep, upstairs,” he says as he opens the door more to let me in.
   Ashley and her sister Sam are unpacking when I walk into their room. We hug like we haven’t seen each other in months. She looks tanner, for her, like she has been outside a lot. She is pretty fair skinned so she never gets really tan. She tells me about the family reunion as she finishes unpacking, and I tell her all about how building the sets for the play, is going. Her parents already went into the restaurant and left a list that Ashley, her sister Sam and her brothers Marcus and Dan need to do before they can have plans. The house does look pretty messy even though they have been gone for two weeks. We hug again as I leave. I work this afternoon, but we make plans to go to play practice together tomorrow.   
    When I get home, I talk to my sisters and eat lunch before going to work. My mom is dropping me off since she goes to work too and needs the car. My dad is out of town for work so Jake is not happy that he has to pick me up. If I wasn’t planning on going away to college in two years, I would look into buying a cheap car, but then I would just need to sell it. My mom suggested that I look for a different job closer that I could walk to if I needed, but I like being a hostess where I work.
   Jake seems fine when he picks me up after work. Ava and Sara even came with him, so we all go out for ice cream, my treat. After that, when we go home all of us, even Jake, watch a movie together. We pick Star Trek so that he is happy too.   
   My mom seems surprised when she walks in the house after midnight and sees us all watching a movie together, “Is this my family? All together like when you were younger?”
  “Yep and we even went for ice cream after we picked Harper up from work,” explains Sara.
   “Wow. Thanks again Jake. I am heading to bed. It was busy at the hospital tonight.”
   We all say good night as she goes up the stairs. When the movie is over, we turn off the television and go to bed too.
   The next day, Ashley and I decide to ride our bikes to play practice since neither of us have a car. She is surprised at how far we have got building the set. All of the walls are upright, and now we are adding the details. Ashley doesn’t really like painting, but we just do it together and talk the whole time. She tells me about a friend of her cousin’s that she had a crush on. They exchanged phone numbers, but she hadn’t heard from him yet. I told her that she should send him a text first, just a real casual hi even though I probably would be afraid to myself. Neither of us have that much experience with guys even though we are constantly talking about them and thinking about them. Sometimes I think that the books and movies that we read and watch give us crazy ideas about love. We both want a guy that compliments us, and one that says that he can’t live without us. Ashley says that she believes in the love at first sight concept, but I am just not sure. This guy, Paul that she met, lives down in Georgia so how would they even date? She says that she will tell me what they did later in private since we are painting the set, and she is worried that someone will hear her.
   When I ask her how her family got along, she says that there was a lot of fighting between her brothers and her parents, but that Marcus bought them beer a couple of times so that made it more fun. I didn’t realize that Ashley liked to drink that much, but I guess she will drink this fall when she goes away to school. When we finish painting, we go check the schedule for the rest of the month before we ride our bikes home. Other than working, it looks like I will be pretty busy for the next month working on the set. As we ride uphill towards home in the hot summer air, I think to myself that I will try to get a ride in the future.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Riding Waves by Susan Marie Schulhof December 18, 2014

    I put on my running clothes and walk into the kitchen when Sara says, “I thought that we were doing something together today, Harper?”
   “We are. Right after I get back from a short run. It is early still. Think about what we could do. We could go to Grandma’s pool, although it is cloudy out? The mall? A movie?” I suggest as I head out the door.
   As I run, the sky starts to clear. I wonder if my sisters would want to go to the beach? We could even invite my mom and my brother, although I doubt if Jake would want to come. Too bad my dad is working. It must be hard to go to work every day when we are all at home. My mom started back to work part time, but she works nights so unless she is sleeping, she is home during the day. As I finish my run, the temperature is a little higher, and the sun is shining strong now. There are only a few clouds left so I ask my mom if she wants to go to the beach.
   “I would love to,” she says.
   “We could even pack a lunch,” I suggest.
   “Good idea. Go make sure that Ava and Sara want to do that first, since you have plans to go out with them. If they do, ask Jake too.”
    Ava and Sara love the idea, but Jake says that he has plans. As my mom gets ready for the beach, Ava, Sara and I pack some food and drinks.  
   When we get to the beach, we are all surprised to see how crowded it is already. We get the last picnic table in the shade. After putting down our blankets and chairs in the sun next to the table, we decide to play catch in the water.
   “Want to come mom?” I ask.
   “No. I am going to read a little. You girls have fun,” she answers as she starts reading the stack of magazines that she brought.
   Hours later, as we pack up our blankets and head home, we all say that we had so much fun and want to do this more often. We live pretty close to the beach, but since our grandparent’s have a pool, we go there most of the time. When we put everything away and get cleaned up, Ava, Sara and I turn on the television to watch. We are still flipping through channels when my mom says that she wants to order pizza for dinner when my dad gets home. When the pizza is delivered, my mom lets us eat in the family room so we keep watching TV, as it gets dark outside. We all like cheese pizza so the three of us finish off a large one on our own.
   Even though I miss Ashley, the next two weeks go by quickly since I am so busy. I promise Ava and Sara that I will still spend time with them even when Ashley gets home, and I mean it. We have had so much fun together, hanging out and going places. Since I am going to the community college, I will still be home in the fall when Ashley heads off to college, so at least now I will have my sisters to do stuff with. I can’t fall asleep so I pull out my yearbook and start reading what everyone wrote to me again.
    Ashley and I did not write in each other’s yearbooks yet because we wanted to be the last one to sign each other’s. I suggested it because I just didn’t want everyone reading what we wrote to each other. She has only sent me a few texts because her mom said that it would charge roaming fees since where she is doesn’t have regular service. She said that she was having fun, but that she was anxious to get home. She will be busy getting ready to go to University of Evansville, or UE for short, when she gets home, but at least we will be doing the play together. She must have orientation to attend soon too.
    Part of me wishes that I was heading off to college this fall, but I think that I would be really homesick, especially after spending these last two weeks with my sisters and my mom. In some ways, I feel so grown up but in other ways, I am not ready to be on my own. I do my own laundry and can cook meals, but I just don’t want to be an adult. I think about my father all the time; he has to get up when everyone is still sleeping and go to work all summer long. Even my mom goes to work a couple of days a week in the afternoon. Sometimes I wish I were still Ava and Sara’s age again instead of starting college. Then other times, I am so glad that I am done with high school, and I can’t wait to be on my own.
    As I look through my yearbook, I see that quite a few guys called me cute and said that they hope that we see each other over the summer. I wonder if I will meet anyone in college? I wonder what everyone is doing all summer? I saw some people at the mall when Ashley and I went there, but mostly just girls. What do the guys do? My brother, Jake, is a year older than me. He mostly works on his car or plays video games during the summer. He never wants to do anything with the family or even just my sisters and I. He dates sometimes, but he doesn’t have a girlfriend, that I know of.
    I stop and look at my senior picture. I have on a red shirt, and I had straightened my hair for the picture, so I like the way that I look. I didn’t realize that I was going to have my senior picture taken last summer even before school started so my hair is a little too short. I was letting some reddish highlights that I didn’t like grow out and had just cut it shorter when my mom said that she received an email to schedule it. I waited until the last possible date, but it was still shorter than I normally like.
     “Live Life With Courage” was the quote printed under my picture in the yearbook. The yearbook staff had asked all of the seniors for their favorite quote, so I wrote my own quote based on a poem that I had written. I feel embarrassed when people ask who wrote it, so I just say that I don’t know. Ashley is the only one that knows the truth, and my family, of course, since the poem is hanging on the wall in my bedroom.

Live Life With Courage
By Harper Elisabeth Johnson

Follow your passions,
Spend time with your
Loved ones,
See the world around you,
Help others in need,
Show others the real you,
Enjoy everything,
Choose to
Live Life with Courage!

    I put my yearbook down and turn off my light. As I close my eyes, my last thought before falling asleep is that Ashley should be home by tomorrow morning.

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