The Big Drive
I’m currently lying awake, staring at the sheer canopy above my four poster bed, still completely unable to fall asleep. Tomorrow is the day I travel to Boston with my boyfriend Jason (everybody calls him Jace) to start my freshman year at Harvard. He’s a year older than me and is heading into his second year at UMass Boston. We’ve been together for almost 4 years now, though our relationship started long before that. We grew up as neighbours in our gated community and over the years, our friendship developed into more.
He was there for me through my parents’ divorce which caused my existing anxiety problems to snowball into a pretty bad eating disorder. He was there for me when my mom remarried and moved to London.
I was actually a little surprised that he stuck with me because when he hit tenth grade, he basically became hot overnight. He joined the football team, filled out, grew like a foot and his baby face disappeared. I’m glad he didn’t lose his dimples though because I find them so adorable. He grew out his blonde hair a little so that when he pushes it back it gets this sexy little wave on the top and sides. And there I was, still in 9th grade, short, stick thin with thinning dull brown hair on account of my rampaging eating disorder, with braces and a nose that didn’t fit my face.
He had many other options, but still chose to stick it out with me. He brought me to all of my therapy sessions and even convinced me to go to a camp for other kids with similar problems at the end of that school year which helped me a lot.
After that summer, I actually managed to start eating more or less normally and filled out a little. Sometimes I still struggle with not looking at the calorie count on packaging and not obsessively weighing myself and I don’t look in mirrors too long because I start picking apart everything wrong with my body.
I also got my braces off and my hair started growing back to its normal shiny chocolate brown colour. I started long distance running which helped me put on some muscle and discovered I actually was really good at it.
We were still a bit of an odd couple though, with him being a varsity athlete and me preferring to study or read. I’m quiet and not a particularly big fan of parties and people in general whereas he’s outgoing and confident. He’s also one of the sweetest people in the whole world so literally everyone likes him. He always worked hard to try and push me out of my comfort zone without pushing me too hard which is one of the things I love most about him.
He’s probably the only reason I actually have somewhat of a social life, other than my best friend Rebecca. She and I have been friends forever and we’re kindred spirits. A lot of the time when we hang out, we spend it just reading together or listening to music. We do our own thing but together and it’s the best. I feel like myself around her.
I went to Jace’s prom with him and we had planned to lose our virginities that night, but when it came time, I just wasn’t ready yet. He was so patient and gentle with me and I was so grateful for that.
During my senior year, with him away at college, I didn’t get to see him very often and I missed him like crazy. When my senior prom came around, I was ready to finally be with him in that way.
We were each other’s firsts for literally everything and it was gonna happen eventually and I was done waiting. It was...nice. I still don’t really understand why everyone makes such a big deal out of it to be honest. We’ve done it several more times over the summer and it’s just that: pleasant.
As I continue to lie there contemplating the game plan for today, I run through the list of everything I’ve packed trying to remember if I’ve forgotten anything. I spent my whole summer planning for this so it’s unlikely I’ve missed anything important, but I can’t help but obsess over it.
Finally, my alarm goes off and I get up and pull on the outfit I set out last night: jeans and a t-shirt with a zip up hoodie overtop. Pretty much what I always wear. Plus, we’re going to be moving a lot of things today so I might as well be comfortable. I pull my hair back into a ponytail and go downstairs to start the coffee and breakfast.
I cut up some fruit, throw some bread in the toaster and my dad walks into the kitchen.
“Your coffee and the paper are on the table,” I tell him. The guy is CEO of a major tech company but still insists on reading an actual newspaper.
“Thanks kiddo,” he says, still half asleep. I finish cooking the eggs and bring the food to the table. He looks up at me over the rim of his glasses and his kind blue eyes meet my matching ones and he says, “So, you all ready for the big drive today?”
“It’s only like three hours away Dad. But yes, I’m ready.” The plan is for me to follow Jason to my campus where he’ll help me unpack and move into the dorm and then we’ll go out to dinner and he’ll head to UMass.
He already has most of his stuff at the frat house from last year so he doesn’t really have to move anything except clothes. My dad tried to convince me to let him get me an apartment off campus but I told him I wanted to live in the dorms. I want the full college experience and I know if I stay off campus I’ll never do anything except study and read by myself.
“This big ol’ house sure will be quiet without you,” he tells me.
“It’s quiet even with me in it,” I joke.
He chuckles and says, “You make a good point.”
“And besides, I’ll call all the time and come back to visit at least once a month.”
“You better,” He says pointedly.
After we finish eating I start to clear away the plates and put them in the dishwasher when Marcella, our housekeeper comes and gives me a look. She always gets mad when I start cleaning things.
“I know, I know,” I say, “I just can’t help it.” She refills my coffee and then kicks me out of the kitchen. I bring it to the table and open up my laptop, scrolling absentmindedly through social media.
Marcella is so much more than just our housekeeper. My dad is a really great father but there are certain things that a dad has difficulty teaching a daughter. Like what to expect from your first period, or how to shop for bras or how to use a curling iron. I remember me having a breakdown before a dance in 10th grade because I wanted to curl my hair, but when I did, they all turned out weird and floppy and my dad tried to help but burned himself and Marcella had to come to the rescue.
I’m almost finished my cup when I hear a knock at the door. I jump up and say, “I’ll get it!” I know it’s most likely Jace.
I walk out of the dining room, past the double staircase and through the marble floored foyer. My mother insisted on having a house with a double staircase for hosting events and parties or “galas” as she would call them.
I open the French doors and find Jace standing there, looking adorable as ever in blue jeans and a white v-neck t-shirt, flashing me a dimpled smile. I smile widely at him and he walks up and places a gentle kiss on my lips. “Good morning beautiful.”
“Good morning. Come on in. Want some coffee before we go?”
“Yeah sure,” He says and follows me to the kitchen. When we get there, my Dad looks up and says, “Morning Jace.”
“Good Morning Malcolm; Marcella,” he says nodding to her as she hands him a coffee.
We all go sit at the table and make idle chit chat while we drink our coffees. When I notice the clock says it’s already 9am, I say, “We should probably get going if we want to have enough time to unpack and make it to dinner. I don’t want you driving too late,” I tell Jace.
“Yeah sure. Hang on, I’ll text my mom. She and dad wanna come out and say goodbye to you.” His parents are both doctors and own a private practice and they were like second parents to me growing up.
I nod and say, “Let me just go grab my last bag really quick.” I take my laptop and run up the stairs to my room and stuff the laptop in along with a couple other last minute things like my phone charger. I sling it over my shoulder and head back downstairs to see Jace and my dad waiting in the foyer for me.
We head outside, following the stone pathway past the nicely manicured gardens on either side and out to the semi-circle driveway where my car is parked. I brought it out front from the garage last night before for some reason I was convinced the 5 minutes it would save me this morning was important. I drop my bag onto the front seat of my dark grey Audi A6 that my dad got me for my 16th birthday.
As I shut the door, I see Amelia and Preston walking towards us. Amelia and Preston are both tall and fit with blonde hair and blue eyes, just like their son. It’s actually kind of unfair how much attractiveness is in this one family. They should really share.
Amelia opens her arms wide and pulls me into a hug, “Hi sweetie,” she says and then releases me but keeps her hands on my shoulders. “So, big day huh? You excited?”
“Yeah I am actually,” She pulls me in for another hug and then says, “Ugh, we are just so proud of you.”
“Jesus, mom stop smothering her!” Jace says.
She lets me go and says, “Sorry, I’m just so excited for you,”
“It’s okay, I don’t mind,” I tell her with a smile. She takes a step back and then Preston gives me a smile and opens his arms for a hug. I step into them and he says, “We really are proud of you,” He says and then releases me much quicker than Amelia.
“Alright, well, you better let us know when you come back so we can have you over for dinner, okay? And don’t worry we’ll make sure to drag your father out of the house once in a while,” Amelia says with a wink.
“That would be much appreciated,” I say looking at my Dad who’s shaking his head and smiling.
“Alright, well I’ll go grab my car and be back in a few minutes okay?” Jace says to me. He walks away with his parents and I turn to my Dad. This was the part I was dreading most about today.
“Alright kiddo, you ready for this?”
“I think this will be really good for you. You know, spread your wings and all that. Just be safe okay?”
“I will, Dad. I’m like the safest person on the planet. I think I’ll be fine.”
“And you have all the info for your new therapist over there right?”
“Yes, I do and I have my weekly appointment booked already. First one is Wednesday.”
“Good, good. If you need anything at all, you call me, day or night.” I nod and then he pulls me into a hug and I have to stand on my tiptoes to put my head on his shoulder. I was pretty composed up until now but I feel tears start to slip out. He loosens his grip and I pull away, swiping away the tears.
My voice comes out super shaky as I say, “I love you Dad.”
“I love you too kid,” he says, opening the door for me as I see Jace’s white BMW pull up beside us. He rolls down the window and says, “You ready Vi?”
“Yep, let’s go,” I say with a smile. I sit down and dad closes the door behind me. Jace starts driving and I follow him.