Here it is! The first daily update. This covers the first three “chapters..” they are pretty unbalanced and will need lots of revision/ restructuring, but that’s why they call it the “rough draft.” Criticism and feedback are MORE than welcome!
Ambivalent: A Memoir on Childhood and Saying Goodbye
Amber Rose Yarbrough
I have always, without hesitation, taken whatever life has handed to me. I have never really questioned why certain things happen the way they do, and I don’t seriously regret any of the losses I’ve incurred or mistakes that I have made. I have, however, always been afraid of, and uncertain of, myself. Afraid of disappointing myself by not realizing my preciously old dreams, by not actually becoming the superhero I imagined I could be if I really, seriously tried.
Chapter 1 – The Airport
“Rose, I’m leaving.”
I look up, my eyebrows knit together in concentration, my eyes narrowed, my lips pressed so firmly against each other it’s almost painful.
“You should be coming with me.”
I shuffle my feet anxiously, sincerely wanting to get up and leave with her. My hand finds the leather strap to my briefcase and grips it tightly. Then, instantly, my fingers release their grip and the bag falls to the floor, pulled and drawn by the gravity that grounds and roots us all. My hand hangs limply at my side, suspended in its movement, the cold chill of the airport neutralizing the sweatiness of my palms.
“I can’t,” I groan. “You know I can’t, Jane.”
“You’re going to regret this,” she says in a hoarse whisper. Her heels thud across the marble floors and I hear that steady, hard clacking noise long after they’re gone.
The incessant clamor common to airports continues, unabashed. Men in solid-colored suits and bright neckties race past me, talking fast-paced gibberish on cell phones. Women totter along, balancing carry-on items in one hand and leading whining children with the other. Flight information buzzes over the intercom, the smell of fast food swarms around my nostrils and the hum of rolling luggage plays in the background of it all. An incredible silence separates me, in somewhat of a bubble, from the commotion and life around me.
I snap back to consciousness, suddenly aware of the lapse in time. I look around, bewildered; did Jane really leave the airport? How long have I been sitting here? My eyes search frantically and land on the electronic board above the help desk
“FIVE THIRTY SEVEN?!” I barely catch myself from stumbling as I climb over my briefcase and hurry down the aisle. “Ma’m,” I call to the brunette attendant behind the counter. “Has the 5:30 flight to Hartford already left?”
Her movements are slow as she turns her head to look at me. Her eyes study me, somehow carefully and yet with no interest at all.
“Bad weather. The flight you’re inquiring about has been delayed, ma’m.”
She returns her attention to the male attendant beside her and smiles brightly.
“Just a minute,” I growl, “how long has it been delayed for?”
“Three hours.” She had called it over her shoulder and was already back to smiling at her male coworker.
“Wonderful,” I mutter. I make my way back over to the chair and sit down; it’s still warm. I sigh. Three hours? I hadn’t brought a book with me, no one I knew would want to talk on the phone, and the waiting room had emptied. Everyone was either well on their way out of town or had returned home. Except me.
I slide my fingers into the Velcro pocket on the front of my briefcase and pull out my phone. I grimace at its cloudy screen, smeared with fingerprints and covered with smudge and… chocolate? Only five minutes have passed.
I set the alarm for two hours and ease my head onto the metal bar behind the chair. The chair leans against a ceiling-to-roof window and the view out is, I’m sure, gorgeous. But I’m not in the mood to admire it, to imagine in it, or to be carried away with it.
I fall asleep.
It seemed that I had just barely opened my eyes when I found myself walking down the jet way and loading my baggage onto a cart. I enter the plane and hear the engine purring loudly as I squeeze my briefcase and myself down the aisle. To my left, a little girl and a small boy – around the same age, siblings perhaps – bounce in their seats, smiling widely at each other. This must be their first plane ride, I muse to myself. I smile at them and continue moving forward. A skinny teenaged boy, with gauged ears and a green, v-neck t-shirt tight against his chest, sits with earphones plugged into his head. Further down the aisle I pass a well-dressed, middle-aged gentleman, muttering something under his breath while forcibly stuffing his over-sized briefcase into the overhead compartment. I stop at Row 21 and set my purse onto the seat labeled C. “The window seat!” I muffle a laugh. “A lot of good that will do me at nine o’ clock in the evening.” I smile as my own perfectly sized briefcase slides effortlessly into the space above me. I carefully finger the engraved initials on the front of it before closing the lid. A.R. Amber Rose. The briefcase had been a gift from my dad. “You really could be anything you want to be,” he told me casually when he handed it over on my 21st birthday. “I’ve always thought that about you.”
Chapter 2 – The Misplaced Introduction
I was born in the nineties but didn’t belong to them. I grew up during the early 2000s and wasn’t really a part of them (I lived through the Y2K; no computers crashed, blew up or disappeared). I had nice friends, but I didn’t feel like I had meaningful relationships with any of them. Except one.
I had a great mom who acted and seemed more like a friend, and a dad who spent more time in the bathroom than with me. It’s funny though; my dad and I weren’t “close,” yet I would confide in him and be more honest with him than with the rest of my family, and he would trust me and listen to me more, I believe, than any one else in our family. He was just always there, unprejudiced, rational; a source of unconditional love and support when the rest of my family wouldn’t hesitate to disown me. It’s hard to explain the complexity of the relationships in my life circle, growing up. It is also difficult to communicate the sense of liberation, newness and spiritual enlightenment I received when I left home — for him. It’s especially hard to explain Bobby and our relationship.
But I think you’ll find that interesting.
Chapter 3 – Think before you speak.
“HELLO there, sweetie pie! Would you like a bag of salty peanuts or a little pack of crunchy pretzels?” Said a young, round face with animated eyes and a toothy smile. I glance up at the flight attendant and give a half smile. I look over at the food cart and nod towards the pretzels. She hands them to me, still wearing that ridiculously large, corny smile, blinks and prances off. I hear the murmuring of a second flight attendant in the row behind mine and wait to open my sack of pretzels until I know that I won’t be bothered.
“Hello there, sweetheart!” she gushes as she reaches my aisle. She’s thinner than the first one and probably in her late forties. “Would you like a Sprite, or an orange juice, or an APPLE juice, or a special root be-”?
“I could use a cold Moscato D’Asti, ma’m.” I smile. “That will be fine.”
I dismiss her with a wave of my hand and watch her eyes bulge in her doughy face for just a second before she turns away from me. Instantly, her crumpled face reappears.
“Dear,” she coos warmly, “aren’t you a little young for wine?”
I pull out my driver’s license and hand it to her, wordlessly. I feel it placed back into my hand and hear her scurry noisily down the aisle to retrieve my Moscato. She returns with a glass and the bottle, pours the wine without a flourish, and sets the glass down onto the pullout tray in front of me. She leaves, noiselessly, and I return my gaze to outside the window. I spend the next two bumpy, starlit hours doing what I do best: reliving the past.
My dad hated living in Florida. He complained that it was flat and hot and that everything, including the air we breathed, was saturated and steaming with immorality. As I grew older, I understood what he meant. The beach was no longer just sticky sand and golden sun, refreshed by crisp ocean breezes and cold ocean waters, and buzzing with food-loving seagulls; it was shirtless men, skimpy, bikini-wearing women, greasy, over-priced food and loud, base music booming from portable, handheld stereos. The beach lost its charm for me, too.
The major Florida highway (highway 19) was littered with bars and strip joints and adult video stores – in short, anything that appealed to the carnal, sensual side of man. It grossed me out. I hated being around it, living in it, being associated with the filth and grime of Tampa, Florida in any way at all. Also, I’m not one to compete. My long skirts and long-sleeved shirts couldn’t compare with the beach babes strutting “their stuff” on the streets everywhere.
Besides hating Floridian life in general, my dad couldn’t get along with his boss (although that problem seemed to follow him wherever he went), so when I was almost four years old, my parents, my brother, Bobby, and I moved to South Carolina. It would be years before we officially moved back to Florida, but Bobby and I would travel back to Florida during the summers to visit with our grandparents. Occasionally, my mom would ride with us on the bus, but most of the time, Grampy would drive up north in his white minivan and carry us back down with him. Those were the most eagerly anticipated, happy car rides I’ve ever been on.