“This is so awkward!” Ashlynn exclaimed as she clumsily carried a full length mirror down a narrow hallway. The hall had an old, maroon carpet on a wooden floor. Family pictures hung on the white walls. Ashlynn crashed into the wall, knocking down a school picture that dated back to 1993. She groaned and set the mirror down. As she picked up the photo, she stared at it. That was her in grade school, back when she still had brunette hair and two front teeth missing. She still had the same golden-brown eyes and pale Irish skin though. She remembered so much from this time, and it felt strange to think it all took place over twenty years ago!
Ashlynn glanced in the mirror and almost seemed surprised by her appearance. Her hair was now dyed blonde and had heavy bags under her eyes. She could hardly believe that once her body had been so twiggy when now she had lots of curves. That was not nearly as strange as standing in her childhood home once again. Since she moved out at eighteen, she had returned to visit her parents, but she was a guest and did not wander the halls. It still did not feel real that she got herself into this situation. She got so used to her old life, but there was no going back to that. This place was familiar, but it felt like walking into a memory. So much had changed in the last couple of weeks, and it still had not fully processed.
Patty, her mother, came down the hallway with a large box. She had the same eyes as Ashlynn, but she kept her brown hair. Other than that, she looked very different than her daughter with her wiry, curly hair and tall, lanky body. She wore outdated workout clothes that were covered in dust. Ashlynn supposed her outfit was probably out of date too, but not quite as much as Patty’s. Patty set the box down and wiped some sweat off her forehead with her arm. Before she could say anything, Ashlynn spoke, “Look at me, living in the same room I grew up in. I’d be nostalgic if it weren’t so depressing!”
“You’ll never be happy if you keep dwelling on the negative,” Patty advised, “Just don’t even think about bad things as much as you can. Clear your mind completely as soon as you get on a neg train.”
Ashlynn raised her eyebrows. “So the key to happiness is complete denial?”
“Bingo!” Patty looked towards the room at the end of the hall. “Jon! Are you done in there?”
Jon shouted back to her, “I’m about halfway there!”
Patty rolled her eyes and picked up her box. Ashlynn took this as a cue to keep moving and grabbed the mirror. They walked into the room at the end of the hall.
The room turned out to be nearly empty. The white walls were bare, and the wooden floors were dusty. Jon sat on some old gym equipment near the door. He had gray hair, blue eyes, and somewhat of a pot belly, but otherwise Ashlynn got most of her looks from him. He snacked on a donut until he heard them getting closer. He threw it into the box it came in and kicked it, attempting to hide it from his wife. As Patty set her box down, she saw the donuts and picked them up. Jon tried not to look too guilty. Patty stared at him with a hand on her hip. “How is this halfway done?”
“Carbo loading! This stuff’s heavy, so I need lots of energy to get it out. Plus, I still gotta get her furniture in here. It’s how the pros prep for a work out!” Jon looed to Patty to see if got convinced of his innocence by that statement, but he knew that she didn’t buy it. He grinned sheepishly to avoid an argument.
Patty rolled her eyes but smiled slightly. She turned to Ashlynn. “This pretty much sums up what he did when you moved out. He turned this place into a weight room but would bring a bunch of junk food to eat on his machines.”
Jon defended himself, “It was one donut! And I did use the weights!”
Patty put down the donuts and folded her arms. “Then show us by lifting that barbell out of this room!”
This roused some playful competitiveness from Jon. “I like how you assume I can’t do it!”
He got up and stood before the barbell while Patty and Ashlynn watched. He clapped his hands once to mentally prepare himself for the attempt. He bent down and sincerely tried to lift it. After several moments, Patty knew that he couldn’t do it. “Hmpf!”
“Hey, it’s morning! Gimme a break!” He sat on the floor and began taking the weights off the barbell.
Ashlynn tapped her mother’s shoulder. “There’s probably no point in bringing in more boxes since it would just get in his way. Mind if I go get a soda?”
Patty asked, “Are you asking to borrow my car?”
“I don’t have my license,” Ashlynn told her.
Patty looked surprised. “What? Turning thirty and you don’t know how to drive yet?”
Ashlynn replied, “Mom, I lived in New York City-no one drives there!”
“Well,” Patty responded, “if you’re gonna stay in Success Lake for much longer, you should really work on that.”
Jon, while hauling some of the heavy weights out of the room, said to her, “Oh good, Hon, answer her simple question wit ha lecture.”
Patty got slightly annoyed at that comment. “Enjoy your walk, apparently.” Jon purposely crashed into her shoulder. Patty playfully punched his arm as he left the room. Jon pretended to grunt in pain. Patty laughed and left the room. Ashlynn smiled but could not muster a laugh. She took a last look at her room. It was still hard to believe that she would spend her thirtieth birthday living with her parents instead of her apartment in the city. She sighed and left the room.