Friday, March 28, 2014


            I sit patiently on a stool in the bathroom as Emma waves a 400-degree piece of metal near my scalp and face.  She’s curling my hair, as is our age-old tradition that stemmed from our college years.  By now, we’re both pretty much experts at doing each other’s hair.  Sure, we could do it by ourselves, but it takes much longer, and plus, this gives us the chance to catch up. 

            Emma’s telling me about her coworker, the college-aged guy who is undeniably cute but undeniably off-limits.  “He keeps flirting with me,” she says, “and I keep flirting back because he’s hot!” 

            “I say just go for it,” I tell her, trying hard to sit perfectly still.  “What’s the harm?  You’re almost 24.  That’s not a huge difference, really.  My aunt is five years older than her husband.”

            “Couuuugaaaaar,” Emma coos.  She fluffs out a curl and continues.  “I get that, and it’d be different if he wasn’t still in school.  We’re just at different stages in our lives.” 

            “Maybe, but he’s graduating this spring, right?” I ask.

            “Yeah,” she admits. 

            “And you guys practically have the same job!”

            Emma bristles.  “Not really.  I’m a manager.”  I start to smell burning hair.  “Not only is he working for me, but any relationship would be strictly prohibited.” 

            “Okay, you’re starting to sound like a manual,” I say.  “Also, you’re scorching my hair.”

            Emma quickly uncurls my hair from the rod.  “Oops.”

            Fidgeting, I change the subject.  Emma will always listen, but she rarely changes her mind.  If she doesn’t want anything to do with her coworker, nothing will happen between them.  “Are you almost done?”

            “Does it look like I’m almost done, Miss Impatient?” 

            “Yes,” I say.  She’s curled all of my hair except for a few pesky pieces that never cooperate, including one strand that is clearly lopsided in the back. 

            “Don’t sass me,” Emma laughs.  After a few more seconds of heat-taming and a lot of hairspray, my hair looks perfect. 

            “Wow,” I say, admiring myself in the mirror. 

            “Pretty, huh?”  Emma grins at me in the mirror.  “Well, Cinderella, I expect you back by midnight.  Not that I’ll know because I’m working til close.”  She groans and rolls her eyes. 

            “I hope you get lots of tips!” I say encouragingly.  Emma strikes a pose and pushes her boobs together. 

            “With this rack, how can I not?”  I give her a shove. 

            “But really, is this dress too much?”  I step out of the bathroom and twirl.  I’m wearing a dress slightly below the knees, tight around the chest and loose and flowy all the way down.  Today has finally been above fifty degrees in Columbus, so I had to wear something other than pants, even if I’m only going to Cam’s apartment for dinner. 

            “You’re wearing a jacket, right?” Emma eyes me. 

            I nod.  “Yes, Mom.”  I dash to my room and grab my cream cropped leather jacket (faux, of course).  I’m wearing flat ankle booties, so I look casual yet pretty. 

            Emma gives me two thumbs up in approval.  “I love it!  That green looks really pretty against your skin.” 

            I raise my eyebrows.  “You mean my pasty winter skin begging for sunlight?”

            Shrugging, Emma gives me a look that says yes, but I have no sympathy for you.  Emma’s always been porcelain-skinned, paler than a ghost. 

            “I’ll stop begging for compliments and be on my way.”  I grab my wristlet and phone and give Emma a quick hug and a mock-sophisticated peck on both cheeks.  “Have a great night at work!” 

            Luckily, Cam has a parking garage and was willing to write me a pass to use it for the night.  As that thought crosses my mind, I curse myself for not bringing a change of clothes and a toothbrush.  Would that be too weird?  I ask myself.  Too soon, maybe?  But if I spend the night, my morning breath will be atrocious.  I’m already in my car, so it’s too late.  Screw it, I think, and start driving. 

            Eight minutes later (but who’s counting?) I pull into his lot.  I park and text him, letting him know to come down and get me.  A few minutes later, I see him.

            He spots my car, an early-2000’s Dodge, and walks over, smiling.  I get out of the car, trying to act nonchalant at first, but not able to keep my cool when he envelops me in a hug. 

            “You smell so good!” I blurt.  Smooth, Ryan. 

            Cam laughs.  “Crazy what deodorant will do,” he jokes.  He pulls back and looks at me.  “You’re so pretty,” he says.  I’m proud of myself for not blushing. 

            Pulling out a piece of paper, he hangs it on my rearview mirror.  “You’re all set!”  He grabs my hand.  “Let’s go inside, I’m kind of cold.” 

            “Wimp,” I say, and gently squeeze his hand.  “This is practically balmy.” 

            Cam lives on the third floor, in a one-bedroom like a real adult.  I’m not sure how late in life men have roommates, but I don’t anticipate living alone anytime soon.  I’m impressed before I even walk in the door. 

            But when I step past the threshold of his apartment, I gasp.  I can’t help it, despite how lame I feel.  Cam has set his tiny little dinner table (probably IKEA, but since I own half of last year’s catalogue, who am I to judge) and I can smell something cooking.  With his hand on the small of my back, Cam leads me in. 

            “So I know I told you we were ordering in food because I can’t cook,” he says, “and that’s half true.  I really can’t cook at all.  But I tried!” He actually looks anxious, and it’s weirdly endearing.  “Don’t expect too much.  It’s just spaghetti.  But I made the sauce from scratch instead of getting it from a jar, so this is practically gourmet…” 

            I laugh.  “It smells amazing!” 

            He holds out my chair for me and everything.  While he’s finishing up the food, I take a look around his apartment.  It’s on the small side, but very tidy.  I remember his trash heap of a house in college and can’t even believe this is the same person.  Then again, we were all messier in college. 

            There are no candles or flowers on the table, and for some reason I’m relieved.  I don’t want this to turn cheesy or cliché.  He’s set the table neatly, and I have to hold back my laughter as I notice his plates. 

            “What?”  Cam has come back, pasta in hand.  He’s seen my face. 

            “Um,” I say.  “It’s just that, you have octopus plates.”

            It’s true.  The plates are a classy white, but have a black octopus design.  I glance over and see his looks the same.  “I like them,” I clarify. 

            Cam sets the plate of pasta down and shakes his head sheepishly.  “They’re the only matching plates I have,” he admits.  “My mom got them for me.” 

            Laughing, I say, “Well, she’s got great taste.”  He comes back with the pasta sauce, which smells amazing.  My stomach gurgles audibly.  “I have Lion King silverware,” I admit, trying to drown out the sound of my hungry stomach.  “I’ve had them since I was a kid, and can’t seem to part ways.”

            Cam sits down and looks at me, folding his hands together, elbows on the table.  “I wonder if adulthood is marked by things like that,” he muses.  “Not by if you pay your bills on time or if you have your own place, but if you have matching silverware and glasses that aren’t plastic tumblers with the Yankees symbol all over them.” 

            “The Yankees,” I snort.  Actually, I’m really impressed with Cam.  What he’s just said is thought-provoking.  I’d never really considered that guys cared about how their apartment looks or what type of plates they own. 

            We’re quiet for a moment, but of course that’s interrupted by my incessant stomach.  “Let’s eat,” Cam says.  “You first.”  He’s laughing, and I give him a mock-menacing glare as I scoop pasta onto my plate. 

            It’s delicious.  I wish my face wasn’t so easily read, because my shock must be written all over.  Cam takes this as a compliment. 

            We barely talk while we eat, and after a few minutes, I’m already going in for seconds.  “This is really good, Cam,” I say.  “Quit your job and open an Italian restaurant.” 

            “Yeah, a restaurant that specializes in one type of pasta,” he scoffs, but I can tell he’s pleased. 

            After dinner we talk a little about our week.  I start to tell him about my mom’s visit.  “I told her about our date, and she seems pretty open to you,” I babble.  Seeing the look on his face, I freeze.  “What?”

            “What did you tell her?” he asks. 

            I choose my next words carefully.  “Nothing really.  Just that we’ve been talking and that we had a date today.” 

            Cam nods with an uh huuuuh noise. 

            “What?” I ask again. 

            He shrugs.  The atmosphere has changed entirely, and it’s clear he doesn’t want to have this conversation. 

            “Did you not want me to tell her anything?”  Still he’s quiet.  “I didn’t say anything about you in college, if that’s what’s bothering you.” 

            He rolls his eyes.  “Ryan, I thought we were over that.  Do we have to keep bring it up?  No, I’m not talking about when I cheated on you in college.”

            I freeze.  I’m mostly over that, but hearing Cam talk about it so bluntly still makes me feel hurt and uncomfortable.  I look down at my hands and start chipping off my nail polish.  “I know that,” I say quietly.  “Then what’s wrong?”

            I can hear him run his fingers through his hair.  How did this night get so awkward, so quickly?  “I’m just nervous, I guess.  It’s kinda weird that you told your mom about us.”

            “My mom and I are pretty close,” I say, confused.  “And it’s not like I told her you’re my boyfriend or anything.  I’m not that obsessive.” 

            He visibly relaxes, and I know I’ve got him.  “Don’t worry.  I’m taking this slow,” I reassure him.  “I really like where everything is going with you, and we have so much fun together!  I’m not trying to pressure you into being my boyfriend.” 

            “Do you see that in the future for us?” he asks.  I’m a little surprised.  Usually guys aren’t the ones to bring up the relationship talk, but it’s honestly a little refreshing.  I hate playing games. 

            “Yes,” I answer truthfully.  “I really do.” 

            As a sign of forgiveness, I go over and sit on Cam’s lap.  We’re still seated at the table, so our awkward positioning makes us both laugh.  I lean backwards and stretch out so he has to try harder to keep me from falling.  This continues until we’re both cracking up—I even start to tear up from laughing so hard, even though the situation itself isn’t really that hysterical.  We both lean in for a kiss at the same time. 

            At that moment I know that, despite what Emma had joked, Cinderella wouldn’t make it back home by midnight… and probably wouldn’t go home that night at all.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mother Knows Best

            I spot my mom as soon as I pull my car into the Holiday Inn hotel parking lot downtown.  It’s freezing outside, and even with my seat warmers on and a puffer coat I’m freezing, while she’s wearing a stylish jacket and cropped pants.  She sees me and smiles brightly. 

            I reach over and open the door for her, a struggle when you have arms as short as mine and a car with automatic locks that are still broken.  Mom steps in and immediately hugs me.  Her perfume, a scent I can’t name but something that I know by heart, fills the car. 

            “Ryan, I missed you!”  Her voice is as warm as her perfume, and I can tell she’s happy to see me.  I give her a kiss on the cheek and she settles into the seat, closing the car door.  “You look beautiful, honey.  Your hair is so long!”  I instinctively touch my freshly blow-dried hair. 

            “Thanks,” I say, and begin driving.  “I thought you’d be hungry, so we can go straight—”

            She interrupts me.  “No, no, I’m really not very hungry right now.”  I know what’s coming immediately.  “I want to see your apartment!”  I change courses and begin the short drive to my house.  Already, worries are plaguing my mind.  I knew she’d want to see the apartment, and there are dishes in the sink.  And I hadn’t swept the floors.  Or folded all the laundry that’s just hanging over my clothes rack.  All of those things definitely wouldn’t go unnoticed by my mother. 

            On the way there, she chats about work.  Mom’s a full-time editor of a local architecture and interior design magazine and has been since I was born.  Before that, she wrote for local newspapers.  When I was born—I’m the oldest child in the family—she had just started at the magazine.  She only took half of the maternity leave offered her, and did the same with my younger sister and brother.  I’ve always admired her spunk and hard work, and hope that I inherited some of her best qualities. 

            We arrive at my apartment and I nervously unlock the door as Mom chatters happily.  “Oh, very nice, I forgot how pretty this brick is,” she says, admiring it. 

            “Mom, you saw this when I moved in,” I remind her.  She waves away my words with a quick flick of her wrist.  We walk inside and a wave of relief floods me.  Thank God for Emma—she’s cleaned off the counter and mopped the floor.  Sure, those dishes are still in the sink, but it wasn’t as many as I’d thought.  Our apartment looks pretty good, and I can tell Mom thinks so, too. 

            “Is Emma home?” she asks.  Mom has a soft spot for Emma, especially since we’ve both gone through so much together.  I shake my head no and say she’s working all night. 

            “She’ll find a better job soon,” Mom says with authority.  I don’t say that Emma actually enjoys her job managing the bar, because my mom has very set opinions about careers. 

            I change the subject.  “Want to see my room?” I ask.  “I even made my bed!” 

            My clean-freak mother actually smiles when she walks inside my room.  “Wow,” she says approvingly.  “No clothes crumpled on the floor!  You really are growing up,” she jokes.  Inhaling, she looks around and adds, “But I can smell those candles.  Lovely, but you need to make sure you’re always in the room when they burn.  Got it?”

            I roll my eyes.  “Don’t worry, ma’am,” I say.  “I’m safe as can be.”  Mom beams.

            “Good.  Now, dinner?” 

            Half an hour later we’re seated at Basil, a Thai place a few minutes from my house.  I’ve actually never been, because I have an embarrassing penchant for really inexpensive takeout and have never made my way here.  But my mom loves well-prepared food, and Basil has incredible reviews.  I go for a classic Pad Thai, and Mom orders pineapple curry, a delicious-sounding dish with chicken, spices, veggies, and of course, chunks of pineapple. 

            “I’m having a bite of that,” I warn her.  There’s a comfortable silence for a few minutes while we sip our drinks and look at the room.  I’m positive my mom is checking out the décor by the way she carefully eyes the tables and wall art.  “It’s a little heavy-handed,” she observes, “but still pretty.”  She finally tears her gaze away from the details of the restaurant and looks at me.  “It’s been so long since I’ve seen you,” she tells me. 

            I immediately feel guilty.  She’s right, and on top of that, we haven’t spoken since her email.  I rarely call her.  My mom and I are close, but not best-friend, feel-good-movie close.  She’s always busy and lives a hectic life, and I sometimes don’t feel comfortable confiding in her.  It’s not that she doesn’t listen, but she has such strong opinions about everything that it’s hard to not get defensive if she doesn’t agree.  That’s why I haven’t told her about Cam yet. 

            However, I know I’m not always fair with her. She’s my mother, and she deserves to know things about my life.  I decide to tell her about Cam. 

            “I decided to give Cam another shot,” I blurt out.  Mom looks surprised, but she just sips her jasmine tea and watches me.  I take the hint and keep talking.  “We’ve seen each other a few times and I think things are going well.  Really well.” 

            “I met him once, didn’t I?” she asks.  I nod.  It was a while ago, back when Cam and I were still in college.  I’m surprised she remembers. 

            “He has a job now, and seems like he’s ready to start getting serious.  Not that I need something serious right away,” I clarify—why am I always defending my decision to date him?—“but it is nice knowing I don’t have to worry whether he wants to be with me or not.”   Anxiously, I twist my hands around the cloth napkin.  If it had been paper, I’d have already ripped it to shreds.  I’m surprised at how much my mother’s opinion of him matters to me. 
            “Yes, well that’s very good,” she says.  “I’m sure he has a great job, and I’m sure he’s very nice.”  She pauses.  “But how do you feel about him?  About the relationship?” 

            Before I can answer, our food arrives, and we’re both distracted at how aromatic everything is.  Both dishes are plated beautifully, and I can’t decide which one smells better.  Even though our food is steaming, we both dig in enthusiastically.  One thing Mom and I have in common is our love of amazing food. 

            Mom murmurs in appreciation.  “You picked a great place, Ryan,” she tells me, placing a bit of pineapple and chicken on my plate.  I let her have some of my noodles. 

            “Everything is amazing,” I say happily.  It’s only after the feeding frenzy slows that I remember our conversation about Cam.  “What you asked earlier, about how I feel about the relationship, is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently,” I say.  Despite the rapid change of subject, Mom knows immediately what I’m talking about.  “I’m scared because I don’t know if I can ever get over how much he hurt me.” 

            Mom’s nodding, looking down at her plate thoughtfully.  “This will sound cliché, but everyone will hurt you in some way or another, Ryan.  People are people.  We’re imperfect and we’ll make mistakes.” 

            “Even you?” I say softly, as a joke.  She smiles. 

            “Even me.  It’s really up to you to decide who is worth the hurt and who isn’t.  Of course,” she warns, “that doesn’t mean you should let people walk all over you.  If he hurts you again—” she shakes her head and takes a little breath.  “Just think about it.  Be honest with yourself.  If he’s good for you, you’ll know it.”  She looks back up at me and smiles.  “Now, you know I’m not one of those crazy mothers who wants you to get married right away.” 

            “Believe me, I know,” I say, widening my eyes.  She’d never taken my two high school boyfriends seriously, always mixing up my newer boyfriend with my previous boyfriend, even calling him the wrong name on prom night while she snapped our photo.  In college, she warned me not to get married right after graduation.  Mom’s stance on love and marriage has always been clear to me—don’t rush. 

            “I just want you to be happy,” Mom says.  “Everything will work out, and you’ll do what’s best for you.” 

            We chitchat about my job for the rest of dinner; Mom always has solid career advice.  When the check comes, we politely fight over it like grown-ups, and she finally snatches it from me.  “Let me take care of you, even if it’s just paying for this,” she insists.  How can you say no to that?

            I drive Mom back to the hotel, and by the time we arrive, she’s already tapping away on her smartphone.  “You’re always working,” I say.  Her screen is lit up with a website boasting lamps of all different sizes, colors, and styles.

            “I have a meeting with a client tomorrow morning,” she says vaguely, and clicks her phone off to give me a hug and a kiss.  “It was wonderful seeing you, Ryan,” she says, giving me an extra squeeze. 

            “You too, Mom.” 

            She opens the car door but adds, “Remember, I know you’re all grown up but I’m still your mother.  If you need anything, just call.”  I nod and blow her a little kiss. 

            “Love you!” 

            By the time I get home, it’s nine PM and I’m exhausted.  It’s been a long week, so I put on my softest fleece pants and curl up in bed with my phone.  I have a good night message from Mom already, a text from Kolby asking me to listen to her radio show tomorrow morning, and one from Cam. 

            “Can’t wait to see you tomorrow!” it reads.  I smile, and fall asleep before I can send a reply.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Lot to Look Forward To

            Surprise!  I have a long weekend, so I’ll be coming up to see you this Friday!      

            I gulp as I read the email from my mom.  This Friday?  But it’s already Wednesday!  Then again, my mother has never been one for planning.  She’s not scatterbrained, exactly, but she does prefer the spontaneity in life.  I continue reading:

            I’ve booked a hotel, so you won’t have to worry about me intruding on your privacy.  Maybe you could show me around Columbus?  I’m sure your world has changed since your college days!  See you soon.

            She ended her email with an xoxo Mom, as she ended all of her messages, even every single text, no matter how short.  I smile a little.  She was staying in a hotel, so really, there wasn’t much to worry about.  I could show her around a little, as she suggested, and maybe—she’d want to meet Cam.  Oh no.  Mom isn’t one for subtleties, and she knew all about Cam back in his earlier days.  Hopefully her protective mama-bear ways wouldn’t take the lead this weekend. 

            After work, I headed to happy hour with a few of my good college friends.  Emma, sadly, was at work all night, so I went alone.  Surprisingly, I was the first one there.  The waiter suggested a gin and tonic with a splash of grapefruit juice and a maraschino cherry, so I ordered that and began sipping on it.  No need to go crazy before anyone else had even arrived. 

            Soon after receiving my drink, I spot Marie walking through the doors.  Her glossy dark hair is as pin-straight as always, and I eye it enviously before she sees me.  I wave, and she makes a beeline for the table.

            “Hey!”  She goes in immediately for a hug.  “How have you been?  Wow, you smell good,” she adds, pushing her nose to my neck.  I laugh and swat at her. 

            “Hey to you too!  I’m so glad to see you!”  We release our hug and just as I’m sitting down, I see a flash of blonde. 
            “Ahhhh!”  Kolby has snuck up on us both, but on Marie in particular, and has her hands over Marie’s eyes, startling her.  Marie yanks on Kolby’s hands.  “You aren’t fooling anyone, Kolb.” 
            Releasing her hands from Marie’s face and plopping down next to her, Kolby sighs dramatically.  “I suppose not,” she says with a grin.  “But it was fun!”  She looks at me in approval.  “Nice shirt.  You look hot!” 
            “Thanks boo,” I say, and blow her a kiss.  Kolby is so full of personality and bursting with silly energy that it’s hard to keep your own exuberance in when you’re around her. 

            “I see you’re way ahead of us,” Marie says, eying my drink.  I offer some to her. 
            “It’s good!” I insist.  After Marie, Kolby takes a sip. 

            As soon as they get their drinks, the gossiping begins.  After college, Marie secured a place in law school while Kolby scored a kick-ass job with a radio station.  It’s a country station, and Kolby really doesn’t even enjoy country music that much, but she’s a riot to listen to and her coworkers, whom I imagine are always sporting huge cowboy hats and chewing tobacco, eat it up. 

            “I swear our intern is a moron, though,” Kolby says, rolling her eyes.  “He’s this really sweet kid who cannot speak in front of people at all.  Which, you know, is kind of essential for this job!” 
            “Maybe the person who hired him is the moron, then,” Marie suggests, ever the diplomat. 

            “Pretty sure Kolb was the one in charge of hiring, weren’t you?”  I say.  Kolby shoots me a death glare. 

            I talk a little about Abby and her recent engagement.  Neither Marie nor Kolby have met Abby, but they know of her, and engagement is enough of a commonality between us.  Anyone our age getting engaged is reasonable, but still somewhat shocking. 

            “I’m still learning how to properly do my laundry,” Kolby says solemnly. 

            “So what about the two of you?” I ask, wanting to keep the spotlight off Cam and I for a moment, even though things have been going extremely well for us in the past few days.  “Any new prospects?” I ask Kolby.  “And what about you, Mar?  How’s Liam doing?” 

            All of a sudden, Marie bursts into tears.  Kolby and I sit there in shock for a moment, and our eyes meet.  Marie has never cried in public—well, except for that one time sophomore year when she puked up Bud Light Lime and couldn’t get it out of her brand-new Bebe dress the next day.  Needless to say, the two of us were shocked. 

            “Marie,” I say in a hushed tone, “shhh, it’s okay, it’s okay.  Do you want to go outside?”  I hand her a napkin as Kolby gingerly rubs her shoulder blades. 

            Marie heaves a deep, shaky breath and grabs the napkin, dabbing at her eyes.  Just like that, she’s recovered.  It’s silent for a moment, the mood having changed entirely. 

            “We broke up,” she said simply.  We wait in silence again.  I don’t yet know what happened, but I feel for Marie.  She’s an absolute angel, and she and Liam had been together for going on three years.  I hadn’t expected this, and I’m sure Kolby didn’t either. 

            “We’ve been fighting a lot lately,” she continues, wiping her eyes with her sleeve since the tiny cocktail napkin is totally drenched already. “Finally, one night he just said he wanted to try other people.”         

            “Try?” I ask. 

            She nods.  “His words.  Like women are something in a gift shop, or cars you can test drive.”  Letting out a bitter laugh, she adds, “I told him that’s fine, he’s young, you know the clichés.  I haven’t heard from him since.” 

            My heart aches for Marie.  She’s one of the strongest individuals I know, male or female, young or old.  Her mother died when she was just fifteen, and her dad worked constantly to put her and her younger sister through college.  She can be a tough cookie if you get on her bad side, but really, the only people Marie hates in this world are George W. Bush and now Liam. 

            The waiter comes by and I order Marie a drink.  She tries to wave it off but I insist.  “Come on,” I coax her after the waiter leaves.  “I’ll drink it if you really don’t want it.” 

            “Your mascara still looks killer,” Kolby offers.  “I can’t even get mine to stay on for more than six hours, and here you are, post-cry, looking like a makeup ad.” 

            That makes Marie crack a smile, and I see the Marie I know and love again.  When her drink arrives, she drinks it a little quickly, I notice, but she’s the farthest thing from a lightweight.  A thought tugs at my brain. 

            “When did this happen?” I ask.  Kolby shoots me a look, but I ignore her and keep my gaze on Marie. 

            Shrugging, she cups her glass with both hands like a small child and avoids my eyes.  “Yesterday,” she says quietly. 

            “What?!”  No wonder she’d cried.  If I was in her shoes, I’d be at home sleeping, or at least listening to angry music and throwing darts at a printed out picture of his face.  Well, maybe not the darts part, but still. 

            “We need to do something,” Kolby decides.  “Go out.  Dancing maybe?” 

            “Yes!” I exclaim.  “That’s perfect.  Just the thing you need.” 

            Marie rolls her eyes.  “Is it?” 

            “Yes!” I say again, nodding excitedly.  “It’ll be just like old times.  We can meet at my apartment, take three hours to get ready, pregame, and then hit the bars!”  Kolby is nodding with me, but Marie looks less than thrilled. 

            “What if the alcohol makes me a sad, weepy mess?” she asks.  It’s a valid point. 

            “Well,” I say, picturing a calendar in my head, “my mom’s coming up this weekend and I have a date on Saturday, so maybe next weekend?  That way you have some time to yourself and—”

            “Wait, wait, wait,” Marie says, holding up her hand.  The gleam in her eye is back.  “Did I hear date?” 

            I wave my hands.  “No, no, it’s nothing big.”  This was true.  Cam and I don’t even have concrete plans yet, but hey, a date is a date!  “It’s actually just with Cam, well, not just Cam like it’s a bad thing because everything has been going great with him so we might actually be back together—”  I’m interrupted again, this time by Kolby. 

            “You’re back together?” she asks incredulously.  Before she can continue I stop her. 

            “Just trust me, okay?  He’s a good guy.”  They both still look surprised, but stay quiet, so I go back to talking about our going-out plans.  “Anyway.  I say we go out two weekends from now, so we can really plan and you have some time to gather your thoughts, Marie.”  Marie’s nodding, a good sign. 

            “I think we could all use a little dancin’!” Kolby says loudly, shaking her hips in the chair.  I laugh.  Even Marie is starting to crack a smile. 

            “I haven’t been out in so long,” she says thoughtfully.  “What the hell.  Why not?” 

            Kolby and I high-five.  “Girl’s night!  Girl’s night!”  she chants. 

            I smile at my two friends from across the table.  With my mom coming into town this Friday, my date on Saturday, and the extravaganza with Kolby and Marie the following weekend, I have a lot to look forward to.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Floral Engagement

            When I wake up to no text from Cam on Monday morning, I begin to lose hope.  As dramatic as that sounds, I was really starting to feel as though something could develop between Cam and I.  Of course, I had to go and screw it up. 

            Despite my feelings of self-loathing, I don my favorite work pants that make my butt look fabulous yet professional and manage a perfect cat eye.  Not bad for a Monday morning. 

            When I get to the office, Abby is there before me, as usual.  I stop by her desk to discuss her weekend.  For some reason, she keeps flailing her arms around and making exaggerated hand gestures, and there is a bright pink tinge to her cheeks.  She looks slightly deranged, and just as I’m about to ask what’s wrong, I notice it. 

            “OH MY GOD,” I gasp, and grab her left hand.  “NO.”

            “YES!” She shrieks.  “I’m engaged!” 

            I zero in on her ring finger.  It’s a monster, marquise style, with a gorgeous thin band of diamonds.  White gold, perfect against her pale skin.  Just unique enough, yet just classic enough for Abby. 

            “Holy shit Abby.  This is amazing.  He did such a good job.  It’s just beautiful.”  I can’t stop staring at it. 

            No wonder Abby is beaming.  She looks like sunbeams are shining out of every pore of her skin.  “Do you want to have lunch together today?  I want to hear all about your weekend too!”

            I laugh.  “Of course, but the only thing we’re going to talk about is that massive rock and how Mark proposed.” 

            Abby shakes her head, saying she isn’t ready to be bridezilla just yet.  I’m still smiling as I walk back to my desk.  One of my good friends, engaged!  Preparing to spend her whole life with someone!  It’s unreal.  I can’t even decide what I want for lunch, and here she is, making a decision that will stick with her for the rest of forever.  The thought gives me the chills, although I’m not sure if they’re from excitement or fear.  I’m no commitment-phobe, but marriage is not in the cards for my near future. 

            I throw myself into my work that day, since Paris Fashion Week is in full swing, and of course, there is more Kendall Jenner news.  I’m already sick of bleached-blonde eyebrows and heavily-pleated pants by the time lunch rolls around.  Just as I’m about to go collect Abby, I hear my name called. 

            “Hey Ryan!”  It’s Caroline.  “You’ve got a delivery!”  Then she giggles.  Giggles.  Interesting.  I shoot up from my chair, and spot her hidden behind a vase of flowers. 

            “What?”  I practically run over to her.  “Are you sure these are for me?”

            Caroline sticks her head out from behind the flowers.  They consist of dark pink roses, thin bunches of lily of the valley, some sprigs of baby’s breath, and a few types of green leaves.  “I’m positive.  You’re the only Ryan here, and even the intern can read.” 

            “Wow,” I breathe, ignoring her sarcasm.  “This is beautiful.” 

            “And heavy,” Caroline tells me.  “Take them from me!  I’m about to collapse.”  I laugh and grab them from her.  Sure enough, my name is on the card. 

            I take the flowers back to my desk.  Abby materializes next to me as I’m admiring them.  “Ooooh, looks like someone had a good date!” she says in a singsong voice. 

            Opening the card, I see she’s right.  The note reads: “To Cinderella.  Glad I was there to help you find your shoes after midnight.”  It was signed “Cameron.” 

            “Damn, these are pretty,” Abby says.  “He must really like you.” 

            “I guess so!”  I’m probably the last person on the planet who should be getting flowers right now.  Hell, I probably should have sent some flowers Cam’s way. Honestly, and as cheesy as it sounds, I'm elated.  So what if Cam never texted me back?  These flowers are much more telling than a quick message.  Perhaps my little escapade has been forgiven.  

            At lunch, I quickly brief Abby about my weekend.  She laughs hysterically at my antics, and was appropriately appreciative of Cam’s kindness. 

            “I’m sure you weren’t bad at all, Ryan,” she assures me.  “He probably thought it was cute.  Or at least funny!”  She’s already eaten her salad and is eyeing the pickle that came with my sandwich. 

            “Go for it,” I say, gesturing to the pickle.  “And yeah, I guess.  I felt so stupid though.”  I shake my head.  “Anyway, enough of this.  Tell me about Mark’s proposal!” 

            We spend the rest of lunch talking about how Mark had notified Abby’s entire family and hid them in various bushes and behind trees in the conservatory downtown while he and Abby took a snowy walk.  Apparently it had just started to flurry when Mark began listing all the little things he loved about Abby.  He got down on one knee, picture perfect, and when she said yes her family jumped out to surprise her. 

            “That’s incredible,” I say.  “Ab, I’m so happy for you.”  I think back to the weekend and don’t recall seeing anything on Instagram or Facebook.  “When are you going to alert the world?”

            Abby tells me she’s been planning on saving that for another week or so.  “I want to tell the people closest to me personally,” she explains.  “Luckily, my family already knew!  But I don’t want my friends to find out through social media.”  She wrinkles her nose.  “That’s kind of tacky.”

            I completely agree.  “I’ll be on the lookout for that engagement ring closeup on Instagram, though,” I tell her.  She laughs, and we finish our lunch chatting about work. 

            The rest of the day flies by.  As usual, I’m overwhelmed with work, and by the time 6 PM rolls around I’m exhausted.  Most of the office has already left, except for my boss, who I'm 90 percent sure never sleeps.  I wrap things up by 6:30 and finally check my phone for the first time as I gather my things.  Emma texted me, asking if Cam ever responded to me.  I’m glad she did, because I had almost forgotten my flowers on my desk.  I snap a quick photo and send it to her, and then pick up the vase and walk out of the office. 

            At home, I place the flowers in my bedroom where they can get a little sunlight the next day.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the slightest hint of a green thumb, so I’m worried they’ll be dead by morning.  As that thought crosses my mind, I decide to call Cam to thank him.  Much more personal than a text. 

            The phone rings four times before he picks up.  “Hey,” he says. 

            “Hey,” I repeat.  There’s a pause.  “I just wanted to thank you for the flowers.  They’re perfect.”  Another pause.  I almost expect him to say something, but when he doesn’t, I continue.  “And thank you for being so understanding.  I was a moron this weekend.  I’m still embarrassed.” 

            Cam finally speaks.  “Ryan.” 


            “Do you want to get a sub for dinner?” he asks.

            I can’t help but laugh.  “Yes,” I say.  “Of course I do.  Do you want to eat over at my place?  Since you know where it is and all.” 

            I’m relieved when he chuckles too.  “Sure.  What’s your order?” 

            I tell him, and he promises to be there in no more than twenty minutes.  True to his word, he shows up, tuna melt in his hand, fifteen minutes later. 

            “Cam,” I say, and I don’t care if it’s embarrassing, but I go in for a hug right away.  “Thanks again.” 

            My face is still buried in his shoulder, but I can hear his smile when he says “No prob, Ry.  I’m glad you liked the flowers.” 

            We sit at my kitchen table and don’t talk about my drunken Disney performance.  I assume he’s done worse, and I don’t want to beat a dead horse.  Instead, I ask about his job, because in all reality I have no idea what he does.  Turns out he’s in sales and doing very well so far. 

            “I never knew you were so persuasive!”  I tell him with a grin.  “Well, good for you.  It’s crazy that we’re all grown up in the real world, isn’t it?”

            Cam nods as he takes a humongous bite out of his sandwich.  I take that as a cue to keep talking.  “I mean, one of my coworkers just got engaged,” I say absentmindedly.  Immediately I regret bringing it up.  What if he thinks I’m dropping a hint or pushing a relationship?  Before I can do damage control, Cam swallows his bite of food and nods. 

            “I know what you mean.  My best friend’s younger brother just got engaged.  Younger brother.  He’s like twenty-one.” 

            I shake my head.  “Crazy.  But hey, whatever works.” 

            After dinner, we end up watching some indie movie in my bed.  I know, I know, another day spent with my dear friend Netflix.  What can I say, my life is thrilling.  Not even halfway through the movie, though, Cam’s hand travels up my thigh, and before I even start to understand the convoluted plot, we’re kissing. 

            It feels so good to kiss him, too—no alcohol, no stress, no worries about our “relationship” or where it’s going.  The last time we hooked up was awkward and embarrassing afterwards, but now everything seems romantic somehow, despite my messy room and the glow of my laptop screen in the background. 

            When I take Cam’s shirt off, I accidentally knock said laptop to the floor.  Not my smoothest moment, but we laugh it off and that’s when the frenzy starts.  We practically tear each other’s clothes off.  I can feel our kisses deepening, and after a few minutes I want nothing more than to pull him on top of me.  He takes it slow and makes me wait, but it’s well worth it in the end. 

            Later, as I feel myself drifting off to sleep, I whisper to Cam, “You don’t have to stay if you aren’t comfortable.  I won’t be offended.” 

            The last thing I remember before falling asleep is him whispering in my ear: “I want to be here with you.” 

**AUTHOR'S NOTE:  Hey everyone, thank you so much for your responses to my posting schedule update!  As of right now I am leaning towards Tuesday/Friday or Wednesday/Saturday but have not decided yet.  This next week will be insanely hectic for me, so I will not be able to choose a set posting schedule until the following week.  However, you can definitely expect a couple blog posts next week!  They'll just be surprises, so keep on the lookout!  Again, thank you all for reading my blog.  I really appreciate all of you!
- Alexis

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Posting Schedule

Hi everyone--

In an effort to be a bit more organized, and to help my readers out, I was thinking of beginning a regular posting schedule.  Right now I have been a bit haphazard in my blog posting and I think sticking to a regular schedule would be an improvement!  What, if any, days work best?  Monday/Thursday?  Tuesday/Friday?  Or maybe even Saturday and another day?  If you have any suggestions, please let me know!