I wake up on the morning after my twenty-fifth birthday with no more than three hours of sleep under my belt. I can feel that my hair is sticking up in odd angles and I’m pretty sure there is drool on my cheek. I probably look like I’ve been eaten and then spit back out by a swamp monster. I feel that way as well.
I roll over and look at the clock. Six in the morning. I can fit three hours of packing into an hour and a half, right? The longer I think about it, the less I am getting done, so I begrudgingly roll out of bed and get ready to take a shower.
I know Melody implied that being smelly might deter my future husband, but I can’t stay all gross like this for one more second. I can’t even remember the last time I showered. It’s quite possible it was before Melody’s wedding. Gross. I definitely need a shower.
After showering, I throw on whatever is on the top of one of the boxes I packed yesterday before taping it shut. I grab a sandwich to eat while I finish packing up all of my belongings.
When I tape the last box closed at 8:45 am, I still have fifteen minutes to spare before my moving crew arrives. I’d never been packed with fifteen minutes to spare in my life. In fact, I am usually packing while my furniture is being hauled out of my house.
Oh. My furniture. Am I supposed to take that or leave it? What happens to it if I leave it? Can I leave my stuff to someone so it doesn’t get lost or sold or whatever?
I pull out my notepad and jot down all of my questions so I can ask whoever is in charge of this mess. I also send an email to my parents with the same questions, hoping someone can figure it out.
When 9:00 rolls around, I am sitting on the edge of my couch, anxiously twisting my scarf in my hands. Just before the clock would have rolled to 9:01, I hear two sharp taps at my apartment door.
I inhale a deep, shaky breath and press my hands into my thighs to steady myself before walking over to the door of the apartment.
“Hello,” I smile as I open the door to let the moving crew in.
I don’t even have the door all the way open when they push past me. The smallest one is barking orders at the rest of them as I try to keep track of everything that is going on.
“Umm, hello?” I try to interject when the smallest one takes a break, “I’m Aubrey. What exactly is going on?”
He waves me off and continues to direct the crew. I am about to ask again when a young woman with a fancy clipboard and fancier heels walks through the door.
“I’m so sorry, Aubrey,” she extends her hand toward me, “I was delayed by a small logistical matter. It is all sorted now. Is there somewhere we can sit and talk?”
I don’t know what to say, so I just nod and walk toward the couch. Only seconds ago, I had been sitting there alone. Now, I’m sitting here surrounded by people I just met.
“Perfect,” she says as she sits down beside me, smiling ear to ear.
“I just have a few documents to share with you and then we will get you over to the driver to go see your new home and your new husband,” she is practically bouncing. “This is absolutely the best part of my job. I’m so excited for you!”
That makes one of us.
She must be oblivious to how green I am feeling, because this woman is all pep. If I wasn’t about to throw up, I might have thought something extremely exciting was happening right now. She speaks as though she is giving me information about a free cruise I just won.
She opens her leather clipboard and rifles through it before handing me a double-sided piece of legal-sized paper.
“This is the contract for the moving company. They will, of course, be paid by your parents. You’re welcome to read the information, but basically if they break anything, it will be replaced or fixed at no cost to you. It’s all very standard.”
Yes, I’m sure it is very standard. The problem is, I have never hired a moving company before, so I have no idea what standard is.
Undeterred by my silence, the peppy woman bounces into her next task.
“This is your contract of sale on the apartment we are currently in,” she looks around before continuing. “It’s very nice, by the way. You have excellent taste.”
Without thinking, I say, “Why? Do you want to buy it?”
She laughs. But she is laughing at everything, so who knows if it is funny or not? I sit there, staring into space without absorbing anything, as she hands me three more contracts or whatever.
My interest is piqued when she hands me a yellow carbon copy of a contract that actually answers my questions. Apparently, the items I am leaving in the apartment will be packed and moved to a storage facility. My parents have paid to store my things for a year, during which time I will be able to access the storage container as much as I like.
The thought of still being in this a year from now is kind of outrageous. But at least when this is all over, I’ll still have my things.
I look up from my storage contract to see her slide a giant stack of paper out of her clipboard. It is so thick that it has to be held together with an industrial staple.
“And finally,” she holds out the inch-thick stack of paper towards me, “here is your contract of marriage.”
“My what?” I ask, hoping I heard wrong.
“Oh, your contract of marriage,” she smiles as she continues to hold it where I can reach it.
My hands shake as I take the document from her and flip through the pages. This thing will take me three lifetimes to read. How am I ever supposed to agree to something I can’t even finish reading?
The peppy woman is still talking as I thumb through the contract. I’m sure that I’m missing useful information as I turn the pages of the document, but I can’t seem to really focus on the details.
When I get to the last page, my eyes search for the signature line. My saving grace.
It only takes a second for me to find the signature line.
Instead of a line waiting for my signature, I find a line already signed. By my parents. Honestly, I’m not sure I’m ever going to speak to them again.
My arm feels heavy as the contract slips out of my hand towards the ground. The world swirls around me and everything goes dark.