Mom cried the whole time.
And that made it so much harder.
Dad put on a brave face though, just like I knew he would. And so did I.
I wish they could understand why I have to do this. Why I can’t handle all the pressure. Why I can’t stand living with the shadow of my family’s past looming over me all the time. It’s just so damn overwhelming… suffocating, almost.
I think I was about fifteen the first time I really started to understand what the last name “Ainsworth” meant around Newcrest. My great-grandfather, Damien Ainsworth – a well-renowned surgeon with an entire wing of the local hospital dedicated in his name; my great-grandmother Becca Ainsworth – a bestselling author whose books still line shelves at bookstores around the world; my grandmother, Melanie Ainsworth, who helped manage one of the biggest software companies in the region; and my grandfather, Lucas Ainsworth, whose restaurant still draws tourists and food critics from across the nation, even to this day.
Being an Ainsworth means being successful, and driven. It means being loved, and admired. Being important.
Thank God I inherited my father’s last name.
Or at least, that’s what I always used to tell myself. Until I stopped to think about it, and I realized that being a Rosebrook was almost as bad as being an Ainsworth. My dad used to be the designated hitter for the Newcrest Knights, and helped them win the national championship two years in a row, back before I was born. Crazy, right? And my mom… Well, her artwork’s on display in galleries in over ten different states. My sister decided to follow in mom’s footsteps, and guess what? She’s already on her way to becoming just as famous… Maybe even more famous. Who knows?
I guess what I’m trying to say is that none of it makes any difference. Alexander Ainsworth, Alexander Rosebrook… It doesn’t matter. Either way, I’m living in their shadows. Expected to do so much. To be so much.
But how can I be anything when I still have no idea what the Hell I’m doing, and why I’m even here?
I still remember the last thing I said to my parents – That I’d call as soon as my plane landed, write to them every week, visit as soon as I can… That everything would be okay.
But would it?
Evelyn was the only one who seemed sure that it would be. It was Ev who convinced me to get away in the first place, actually. Who helped me see that this is really what I need to do to find “my way”, you know? Figure out what I’m supposed to do with my life.
And Evelyn, well, I think she understands more about life than anyone else I know… But that’s kind of a long story.
The point is, I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. When I was walking away from my parents – from everything I’ve ever known – and heading for the bus station, I remember feeling more terrified than I’d ever felt in my life. For a moment, I wanted nothing more than to turn back. And I almost did.
I’m still not sure if this is all gonna turn out to be the biggest mistake of my life, or the best decision I’ve ever made. But I guess I’ll figure that out sooner or later… right?
Anyway, this crappy pen I borrowed from the ticket counter’s almost out of ink, and my plane boards in ten minutes, so I’d better wrap this up.
Windenburg, here I come.