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Sleep did not come easily that night. Each time I closed my eyes, I pictured what had just taken place between us on that couch. My brain would then turn on, reminding me that she wasn’t looking for a relationship (and a long-distance one to boot), and I would open my eyes again. After a few minutes break, the cycle would continue. At some point, I just gave up. I turned on the light and whipped out a bunch of files I had to work on, hoping that eventually I would become tired enough to fall asleep. The idea was working, too, until about a half an hour into it, when my door opened. Ashley poked her head through the opening. The act reminded me of another time, when Ashley had poked her head through another door, in another potentially awkward situation.
During the spring break of senior year in high school, my parents (at the suggestion of a therapist they had been seeing together) decided we should all go on vacation. And by we, I mean the two of them, me, Ashley, and Clay and Chelsea, who had the same spring break in college as we did; unfortunately, Glen did not. Ashley hesitantly accepted the invitation after I begged her to come. While she and my mother had come to some sort of unspoken truce, it didn’t take a genius to know that neither one of them was looking forward to an entire week in the other’s presence, even if it was going to be a week spent in the beautiful Bahamas.
The flight there provided the first tense moments between the two. Ironically enough, I was seated in a row of 3, right between Ashley and my mother. As it took off, Ashley grabbed my hand, squeezing it in support as she knew I wasn’t a fan of flying. My mom looked over at our joined hands and cleared her throat loudly. Ashley let go of my hand then, but I leaned in to whisper.
“This is gonna be a long flight.”
“This is gonna be a long seven days,” she replied. She pulled out her iPod, handing me one of the earbuds of her headphone set and spun the wheel to find her desired song. I smiled widely when I heard the opening lines of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and sat back, listening. When the song was over, she handed me the iPod. I guess we were going to be communicating through song. My choice was the Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and she nodded, as though in agreement that it would be nice if we were older. The game (or rather, conversation) went on, until Ashley’s fifth or sixth choice of song, which happened to be The Doors’ “Touch Me.” As though my mother could hear it, she tapped me on the shoulder and motioned for me to take the earbud out.