Monday, August 3, 2015
"Dear, can you take one last look through your room to make sure that we got everything?"
Olivia nodded and climbed the stairs of her house for what she knew was the last time. She slowly walked through the upstairs hallway and took the sight of the now-empty rooms that surrounded her. She walked through the door of her old room and glanced around.
After peeking into the closet, she looked out of the window and took one more glance at the small Oregon town that she could no longer call home after today. She sighed and turned off the bedroom light before making it down the stairs.
Her parents greeted her with a smile, although they knew that this was a painful moment for her and that no amount of cheer was going to change that.
The three walked out into the front lawn and her father closed and locked the door behind them. There was a rental car parked in front ready to take the family to the airport.
"Flight 6413 to O'Hare International Airport will begin boarding in approximately fifteen minutes."
The sadness continued to creep up on Olivia as she walked through airport security and into the concourse in a zombie-like state. She knew that this move was in the planning for several months, but the reality of it didn't set in until she was at the gate to board the plane.
Three hours later, the plane touched down in Chicago and the family left the plane in order to grab some lunch in the two-hour layover they had before continuing their journey.
"Wow… we've been here so many times before and it always feels like there's something new!" Mrs. Gabriel exclaimed as they looked around at the plethora of duty-free shopping and eateries surrounding them.
"Well, I say that we should stick with what we know. Ice cream and cake for everybody!" Mr. Gabriel replied in an attempt to make his daughter smile.
"Oh… fine. You win, this time."
"I always do. C'mon, dear."
With a wink and a nudge from her father, Olivia couldn't help but smile a little bit and the three took off for the nearest ice cream parlor.
Sundaes in hand, the family found an unoccupied table close to the door leading out into the airport.
"So, are you nervous about starting school again?" Mrs. Gabriel asked to her daughter as she was barely poking at her ice cream.
"Kind of… I mean, I was in fifth grade when we moved to Oregon."
"And now you're starting high school. At least you won't be alone. Starting as a freshman means that you can be a scared little bunny along with everyone else."
A slight elbow from Mrs. Gabriel told her husband that it was time for him to use his mouth for eating the ice cream before him and not making the situation any more awkward.
"And, your cousin is going to be starting middle school, too."
Olivia's parents owned the house that they were moving back into. When Mr. Gabriel's job required the family to move to Oregon, he let his brother, his brother's wife, and their younger son live in the house. While his brother toiled away at an office in Boston, he would commute home on the weekends so that their son could have a quality, small-town education away from the problems in the big city.
If there was something that Olivia could look forward to, it was seeing her younger cousin again. She always saw him as the little brother she never had and she remembered how sad she was when her family moved away five years ago.
"Good afternoon, passengers! Flight 26651 from O'Hare International Airport to Portland International Jetport will be boarding soon!"
"Crap! Eat and go! Eat while you go!" Mr. Gabriel said as the three scrambled to gather up their stuff.
The family raced through the concourse and barely made it to the flight gate with a few seconds to spare before the attendant could make a final announcement.
After another, slightly shorter flight, the family left the plane once again to set foot on the ground in Maine. Even though it had been almost two years since she saw their faces, she could see her aunt, uncle, and cousin waiting for the three of them in the arrival area.
Without saying a word, Olivia found herself almost knocked to the ground by her fierce hugger of a cousin as he wrapped his arms around her. She didn't mind and reciprocated the gesture with almost as much force.
"Toby… I can't believe you've grown so much. You were almost a runt when we last saw you!" Olivia's mother said.
"It's too bad your dad didn't have the same luck." Olivia's father said as he playfully patted his brother on his shoulder.
"I see that you've ditched the panda." Olivia noted as her last memory of her cousin before that point involved a stuffed bear that he couldn't part with.
"Yeah…" Toby bashfully replied as he looked to the floor with his hands in his pockets.
"Well, let's get home. We can catch up along the way." Toby's father said as they started walking for the exit.