Eighteen-year-old Jenny awoke early one August morning and climbed out of bed before her big blue eyes were quite open. The hard wooden floors felt icy under her bare feet. Rushing to her window pushing back the pink cotton curtains and lifting the aging wooden pane, she inhaled the aroma of lilacs from the blooming tree below. She saw a small patch of dark clouds threatening to block out the morning sun on the horizon. There was frost on the ground covering her mothers flower bed.
“No,” she thought to herself, “nothing is going to ruin this day.” She turned and worked her toes into velvety slippers then headed towards the bathroom. After filling the bathtub nearly full with warm water and bubbles, she slid in. With a thin, outstretched arm she switched on the stereo sitting on the vanity nearby. Her anxiety-ridden mother was downstairs preparing a large breakfast for her family and other friends and relatives that had come to visit early this morning. Her mind was cluttered with last minute plans and preparation.
She felt her eyes begin to swell up with tears and she became overwhelmed with sorrow when she noticed her husband hurrying down the stairway with an armload of luggage, followed by her younger son Matthew carrying a desk chair. Today her daughter would be moving out into her own apartment in the city to attend a university. She dreaded this day for years, ever since she discovered how independent and grown-up Jenny had become throughout her teenage years. She turned away from the scene and faced the sizzling skillet again. Placing several thick slices of bacon into the pan while shielding her eyes from the splattering oil, she turned the meat repeatedly and began to weep. Jenny pulled herself up and out of the antique claw-footed bathtub. She wrapped her slender body in a cozy bath towel and slowly walked into her adjoining bedroom.
She sighed and frowned as she glanced around the now vacant room. All that remained was the frame of her bed, an old, empty wooden chest of drawers and a small, purple, three-legged end table topped with a unique porcelain lamp. Her posters and pictures of friends had been removed from the walls, exposing an uneven rosy-pink paint job. Her pouty mouth now hinted at a smile. She had slept in this bedroom for eighteen years, and until now had never noticed the uneven paint. A lot of growing up happened in this room.
It was where she met Alley, a neighbor who quickly became her best friend. She would soon be sharing a humble two-bedroom apartment with her boyfriend Josh, Alley and her boyfriend Mike. Today she was leaving for college. Jenny snapped back into reality at this thought and quickly scrambled into some clothing: a comfy oversized sweatshirt and worn-out blue jeans. Making her way into the bathroom she pulled the plug in the drain of the tub, towel-dried her sopping wet blonde hair and threw it into a ponytail and bounded down the stairs. As Jenny proceeded down the stairs and she observed a smooth, heated fragrance of what her mother was cooking. A pleasing scent of sweet warm butter, fresh oven-baked bread, and fruit filled the air surrounding her.
Her mothers cooking would definitely be something that she would be missing. Even though her mother had taught her well, nothing compared to her mothers culinary creations. Jenny entered the kitchen through a pair of hanging saloon doors and seated herself at the dining room table. She was greeted by several caring faces of friends and neighbors, accompanied by smiles of approval from several relatives. With her mother on her left and her father to her right, they discussed the “items of business” that they had all been over numerous times before. She could sense the heartbreak that her parents were experiencing.
She knew that they were not ready to let her go yet. Her mother looked extremely fatigued this morning, and almost older. Her face showed more clearly defined wrinkles and her full, sun-kissed hair seemed remarkably limp and gray. Her father remained strong throughout breakfast, although she could see the saddening concern behind his teary blue eyes. After breakfast Jenny mingled a little with relatives and exchanged various “farewells,” and “miss yous,” before running upstairs one last time to grab her purse and keys. This time when she returned to the kitchen her parents knew that it was time for her to leave.
Her father held open the creaky front door and her mother lead the way onto the cobblestone walkway that lead to the small sport utility vehicle parked in the driveway. Jenny embraced her parents one final time. The university and her apartment is only about an hour or so north. Its not like she is traveling across the country to go to school. She knew that her parents are crushed that she is at finally breaking away from them, growing up, and that she will no longer need their assistance.
She has become an adult. As they released her and she climbed into her car, her mind was filled with anticipation and anxiety, her stomach with butterflies. This was the beginning of a new challenge for Jenny. One that she was definitely ready for.