I was sixteen years old when my life turned upside down. My dad was a doctor and worked in one of the biggest hospitals in California. He was paid so well that my mom didn't have to work. She stayed home and took care of me and my two other younger siblings. Things took a turn for the worst when my dad got laid off from his job. It wasn't long before we used up all the money my dad had saved up over the years. He searched every day for weeks for a new job, but couldn't find anything. My mom got a job at a Seven Eleven two blocks away from our apartment and got paid enough so we could pay our rent and put food on our table, but not enough for air conditioning.
My family always seems to stay really positive, but when I saw my mom cry for the first time I knew something was wrong. I noticed when I left for school one morning, my mom never gave me a kiss and she never even said goodbye, she avoided me. The last time she acted like this was the same day her and my dad told me that he got laid off. I went to school that morning scared and confused.
I grew to love school, I loved seeing all my amazing friends practically every day and I loved being in air conditioning. 6 hours in air conditioning felt like an enternony.
When I got home from school I discovered a note that my mom had left me. The note was folded in half propped up by the two edges, with my name written on the front. I’ve always envied my moms neat, cursive-like handwriting. Her note read, “Ashton, Please don’t go to any of your friends houses this evening, your father and I have something important to tell you. Please don't be worried. My shift ends at 7:00, so I'll be home shortly after. I love you sweetheart. Xoxo. Love, Mom”
My stomach instantly dropped and tears poured out of my eyes. I ran to my room, hopped in front of my old, rusted fan and cranked it up to full blast. Sweat was rolling down my face mixing with my tears. I thought to myself, how could a person possibly sweat this much? We were just fine last month. I wasn't living in front of a useless fan that just blew the same warm air back in my face, a fan that I pretended worked, but really didn't. We had air conditioning, we were just fine. I didn't know what my parents were going to tell me, but I knew it wasn't going to be good.
I stared at the spinning propellers of my fan for hours. I tried to do my homework, but before I knew it I was back looking in my fan thinking about all the horrible things they could possibly tell me.
The sky grew darker and the temperature dropped. I turned the squeaky notch on my fan to ‘OFF’ and climbed onto my bed. I rolled onto my back and went back to staring, but at my ceiling this time.
I suddenly began hearing my mom fiddling the key in the front door and then pushing it open. She was home. The butterflies inside my stomach began to flutter. I rolled over so I was facing my wall and pulled my comforters over my head. A couple minutes later my dad got home as well.
My parents started walking to my room. The creaky, old floor picked up every one of my parents footsteps leading to my room. I heard a gentle knock on my door and my mom said, “Ashton sweetie, can we come in?”
“I guess,” I said softly
My mom and dad opened to door, closed it behind them and sat down on the edge of my bed. My heart began beating faster and I took short, shallow breaths.
My dad began the conversation. “You know we love you, right?”
I replied back, “I know.”
“I know this is going to be hard for you to hear, but let me tell you it was even harder for us to make this decision,” my mom added.
I couldn’t bare this suspense and I blurted out saying, “Just spit it out already!”
My mom took in a big gulp of air and finally disclosed, “Honey we need to move.”
Filled with confusion, I question these words. “What? Where? Just to a cheaper apartment, but still in San Francisco, right?”
“No sweetheart, we are moving to Texas,” my dad said timidly.
I could not believe it. My heart stopped and I couldn't breathe.
“Wha...what, no, no this can't be happening. I’m fine I can deal with the heat. I can get a job, I'll help. You can't do this. San Francisco is my home, we can't just leave.”
It wasn't until a tear spilled out of my eye, rolled down my cheek, down my neck and was finally was soaked up into my bright blue tank top that the next word was spoken.
My mom began again. “Your father finally got a job and we can't pass it up. There are no available jobs in California and he decided to look out of state.”
My dad added in. “I'm sorry Ashton. I'm really sorry. I wish It didn't have to be like this.”
“My friends are all here in San Francisco, I'm a junior in high school, I can't just leave in the middle of the school year. It's not fair, It's just not fair!”
I desperately tried to hold in my tears, but one by one they slipped out.
“We found a nice house and we will earn enough money so we can have air conditioning again and a better life. Don't you want that?” My mom asked.
“No, I don't want a better life, I want this life,” I yelled.
I could barely make eye contact with them. A billion thoughts rushed through my mind. I couldn't think straight. My family was struggling and I felt selfish for not wanting to go.
“We need to do this. It is our job to keep you and your brother and sister safe, but we’re failing.” My dad said.
At this point I didn't even try to hold back my tears. I let them pour down my face all at once.
I closed my eyes and felt my moms arms wrap around me. She began to whisper in my ear.
“We are going to be just fine. We are all so strong and we are going to get through this. I love you Ashton.”
I draped my arms around her and whispered back,
“I know we are mom. I love you.”