Saturday, May 31, 2014

Some Updates

Hi everyone! I just have a few things to say quickly. First and foremost, I have been on vacation for a week and will be home next Saturday. I didn't anticipate that I'd be charged (ridiculous amounts) for wifi, which is why I haven't posted in a week. I'll be back after I return from my vacation! Thanks so much for your patience! 

Second, I just want to say thank you to everyone who reads, and also to those who comment. I read every single comment and while I don't always respond for fear of scaring people away by saying "thank you so much!!!" too often, I appreciate all of your positive feedback. Some days I think no one reads what I write, so when I get comments, I smile every single time. So thank you for that. Really! You guys are the best. 

Third-- I see some of you don't know what tinder is, so I'll try to explain it quickly! Essentially, it's a dating app. You select an age range and gender, and the app generates people in those categories in your area! So if you want to see men in your area from ages 24-29, tinder shows you their profiles, one at a time. You're shown a few pictures of someone, their age, and a small description if the person has chosen to write one. Tinder takes the photos and the description from Facebook, but you can edit those things on the app. Once you're shown a profile, you can either swipe right for yes or left for no. If you swipe left, that's basically saying you aren't interested, but the nice thing is that the other person doesn't know you said no. You're only notified if someone swipes right! Then, tinder alerts you and says you have a match, and you can message that person or they can message you. No private info is out there-- no phone numbers, no email, and no last names, even. If someone wants to meet up, they'll have to ask for that information. It's very secure. 

So there you have it. I hope my explanation wasn't too convoluted! If so, just google it :) I'm sure others have written more detailed explanations! I just wanted to clear up some confusion. 

Anyway, thanks again for reading, everyone. I'll see you in a week!! 

- Alexis 

Saturday, May 24, 2014


I come home from work on Friday evening and am suspended to see Emma at the kitchen counter. She usually works Friday nights and has left by the time I get off work. 

"Hey," I say when she doesn't look up at first. 

"Hey," she responds absentmindedly. I notice she's on her phone. I put my purse down on the counter next to her and start to take my heels off. 

"Not working tonight?"

"Nah." Emma shakes her head, still looking down at her phone. "DJ and I called off together and we're going on a date."

I laugh a little. "You're the manager, so you called him off?"

She smiles. "There are perks to being manager, yes." Finally she looks up at me. "I feel like I haven't seen you in ages."

It's true. The last time we spent any significant time together was when I was crying over Cam. Not my shining moment, I'll admit. Recently I've been spending a lot of time with Marie and Kolby, and while that's fun, I miss my best friend. 

"We should do a movie day or something," I suggest. "Or a girly spa day. I feel like I haven't seen you in weeks."

"We work different schedules," Emma says with a shrug. I frown. 

"Yeah, I guess so. Just let me know when you're off soon."

"Okay." Emma picks up her phone and starts walking to her room. "DJ will be here soon. I'm going to get ready!"

"Do you want me to do your hair?" I call after her. 

"No thanks!"

I'm left feeling a little dejected. Maybe I'm sensitive, but I do miss Emma. 

An hour later she's gone and I'm all alone on a Friday night. That's when I decide to download Tinder. 

Okay, so I've been single for less than a month. I'm not really ready for a serious relationship and probably won't be for any time too soon. I'm definitely not over Cam, and I'd be lying if I said I hadn't read his last text to me over and over. He'd never responded to my text, as I'd suspected, but I still sometimes read out last conversations. Maybe I'm not ready to go to a bar and hit on every semi attractive male in sight, but swiping left and right seems simple enough. 

And addicting. I download the app and after fifteen minutes, I'm hooked. It seems like one of those old Hot or Not games on facebook, except somehow more private. No feelings get hurt on Tinder. 

I also quickly discover how gross some people can be. Pickup lines are common, and I soon collect everything from "hey tinderella" to "sit on my face plz." Ew. 

After a slew of hipster-esque guys in urban outfitters and holding craft beers, I finally get bored. I'm about to end my Tinder binge when I see I have a new message. I open it hesitantly, expecting yet another "titties or gtfo" message, but no. It's from a guy named Bryan that I vaguely remember swiping right to. He's written: "hey! Just wanted to say that I like your bio. I've been scrolling for a while and haven't found anyone with an appreciation for Dr. Seuss yet."

My bio? I don't remember editing my bio. After a quick check I realize it's my Facebook bio from when I was in high school-- a Dr. Seuss quote indeed, from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. I laugh aloud. I should be embarrassed, but I'm intrigued. 

"Thanks!" I write back. "Can't go wrong with a few rhymes. I honestly had forgotten that was my bio."

Bryan writes back immediately. We have a short conversation, one that I'm surprised to discover that I'm enjoying. He seems witty yet kind, and it's been half an hour before I know it. 

Just as I'm wondering if I should take the leap and ask him out, Bryan suggests we grab coffee. I can't help it--once we work out the details and I give him my number, I squeal excitedly. Okay, so it's a Tinder date. And there's no way to tell if he's a psychopath. But then again, anyone you talk to or date could be a psychopath, and it's not so different than finding some dude at the bar. At least I can assume that Bryan wasn't chugging tequila sunrises as he messaged me. 

He texts me quickly to confirm it's my number, and I smile a little. We decide on Sunday, and I'm already a little excited and nervous. It may not be the most romantic way of meeting someone, but who knows? I could use a little casual dating. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014


"What?!" I ask. I think I'm in shock, and I try to process what Kolby has just said. 

I'd asked her to lunch to discuss Marie. This time, I'm absolutely sure we should tell her about Liam's affair without a doubt. It's just not fair to keep her in the dark, especially with something that concerns her so much and us not at all. 

However, Kolby had some news of her own and it had completely derailed the conversation I'd had planned in my head. 

"It's pretty simple," she said with a laugh, ready to explain again. "I'm going to be a housewife!"

"Kolby, you aren't married," I splutter, still taken aback 

She shrugs. "So? I saw an opportunity and I took it! I've met the guy and he seems perfectly normal, really." Seeing the look on my face, she continues. "He's an attorney and he works more than sixty hours a week. I'd have my own room and bathroom and we would hardly have to interact. All I'd have to do is clean up and occasionally cook for the guy. And then I get rent free! I don't see why that isn't a great idea."

I stare at her from across the table, my pulled pork sandwich forgotten. "So you found an ad for a housewife on craigslist and decided to meet up with this guy alone? Without telling anyone?" I always knew Kolby was a free spirit and tough cookie, but stupid? I'd never have guessed. "Kolb, you could have been killed," I say in a low voice. "Didn't you think this through at all?"

With a toss of the hair that would make Scarlett O'hara proud, Kolby glares at me. "I didn't expect you to be so mean," she says. 

"I'm not being mean!" I protest. "Just reasonable. And protective. Kolby, Craigslist can be sketchy. And people can lie. Maybe he said he was an attorney in his late twenties but maybe he's actually a sixty year old with a fetish. Or maybe," I realize with horror, "he knows you from your radio show and has been waiting for this to happen."

Kolby rolls her eyes. "Now you're getting paranoid," she says. 

"Better paranoid than stupid," I say firmly. 

"Fine," Kolby retorts, "but like it or not, I'm doing it. I have the extra time, and I kinda even enjoy cleaning. Is that so wrong?"

"Kolby," I say, starting to get frustrated, "it's not that I have a problem with homemakers. I just think this could be a potentially bad situation."

Really, how could I not be worried? One of my best friends is looking for apartments and stumbles upon an ad for free room and board for a homemaker, and I'm not supposed to find it creepy and a little dangerous? 

"I already told him yes. We agreed to the terms: I'd keep the place clean and cool three dinners a week. I have to bring my own furniture and pay for my own grocers, minus what I use to cook dinner for us."  

It sounds absolutely batshit insane, but when I hear this, I give up. "Fine," I say, "but I'm keeping an eye on you. If anything weird happens, let me know."  

"Okay, okay," Kolby concedes. And with that, I come to terms with the fact that one of my best friends is about to move out of her perfectly fine apartment to live with a busy attorney she's never met and wait on him hand and foot. Or at least that's what it sounds like to me. "Lighten up," Kolby says gently, seeing my face. "It'll be an adventure." I sigh. "So what did you really bring me here to talk about?" 

I hesitate and then say, "We need to tell Marie about Liam's cheating." 

Kolby sips her drink. She's quiet for a moment. "I think you're right," she finally says. 

I can't explain how relieved that made me. I was expecting a fight, honestly, and after all of this homemaking and moving business, I wasn't sure if I was ready for more drama. 

"I just feel like we can't play God any longer," I explain. "It's a fucked up situation, but we need to tell her. Maybe it'll help her heal," I add. 

Kolby's nodding. "I've been having nightmares," she admits quietly. I'm a little surprised she says this, since Kolby seems so cheerful most of the time that I never imagine her as anything but happy. "I keep waking up in a cold sweat, thinking we could have saved her so much grief if we just let her know." She shakes her head as if dispelling a bad dream. "You were right all along." 

I wish I could gloat about being right, but not in this situation. I just want Marie to be happy. 

"How do we do it?" I ask. 

We spend the next twenty figuring out a plan. It's decided that the best way would to get everything we know out in the open, in person. We discuss the photo--the one I snapped of Liam and the blonde in line a few weeks ago. I don't want we to see it.

"Let's tell her I saw them together.  I'll delete the photo right now. It's just not worth it, and then she'll have even more questions." I fish my phone out of my purse. 

Kolby nods. "She might get mad if she sees it. I bet she'll be pretty angry at us no matter what, though." She sighs. "I am not looking forward to this."

"Me neither," I admit. "I love Marie," I say as I search for the photo. "She can be a tough customer, but she's the sweetest angel. I don't want to hurt her." I find the photo and hit the trash can icon. "It's gone forever," I announce. 

Kolby sighs with relief. "Good," she says. She gathers her things. "I have to go," she says. "Thanks for being so understanding."

I look up at her in disbelief. "Kolb, I was anything but understanding."

She shrugs. "Yeah, okay. But I'm going to do it anyway and we both knew that. I'm just glad you're the voice of reason so I don't have to be." She grins and I groan. 

"See ya," I say. As soon as she's gone, I reach for my phone to put it away. That's when I see it's lighted up, and with a text... From Cam. 

"I've been thinking a lot about how everything ended and I think we should get together and talk sometime," it reads. That's all. After almost two weeks, this is all I've heard from him. I'm almost in shock. What do I do? 

I'm the kind of person who craves closure, and maybe meeting up with Cam would offer just that. Maybe it would help me get over him. Or maybe it wouldn't. Maybe it would make me miss him more. Maybe I'd grovel. I could never be sure how'd I react til I saw him. 

I want to say yes. It had been a hard two weeks, and I miss him. I miss him so much that my eyes well up for a secnd. Pushing the tears back, I type back, "I don't think that's a good idea." I know it's the right thing to do, but it hurts. Sometimes I don't miss him at all, but other times I get out my phone to text him something and only then realize we're broken up. Meeting up would only hurt me more. 

I sigh and sign my credit card slip, adding up the tip. After a few moments, he hasn't texted back. I don't think he ever will.

Now more than ever, it feels like the end for Cam and I. Maybe this is closure. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Secrets Secrets Are No Fun

Ive never been good at keeping secrets. Once, in fifth grade, I spoiled an entire surprise party for our teacher, who was about to leave for a job at a different school. Another time, I told my dad that when my mom was just starting to date him, she was also dating another man simultaneously. It was a funny story, or it would have been if my dad had known about it before I'd spilled the beans. I'm not sure if my mom has forgiven me get, and this happened while I was still in high school. Needless to say, I'm worried about what I'll divulge about Liam to Marie. 

Kolby and I decide to keep it on the down low until we come up with a better idea. She said we shouldnt tell her, but I'm not so sure. 

"There's really no other way to look at it," she tells me. "He basically confessed. He cheated. No other possibilities. Since we know for sure, there's no reason to involve Marie and cause her stress."

"But would you want to know?" I ask. Kolby shakes her head. 

"No," she says flatly. "It'll just mess with her head. It looks like she's getting out there and meeting people. Even if she wants to date a guy with a weird forehead, fine, so be it. As long as he doesn't cheat like Liam did, who am I to judge?"

"I feel like we have no right to keep it a secret, though," I say. 

Kolby rolls her eyes. "You're the one who can't keep a secret," she tells me. "I say we just wait it out. Maybe a week? Think it over and don't tell her yet, okay?"

I agree to that, albeit begrudgingly. If I was in Marie's place, I'd want to know. 

It's been almost a week since Cam and I broke up and I finally broke down and cried one night while listening to Reba (don't judge). It almost felt good, in a way; it was like I acknowledged the breakup and all the hurt it caused me. 

Of course, as I was crying, Emma and DJ walked into our apartment, hand in hand. I'm sitting on the couch, cradling a pillow, my face streaked with mascara from the night before. Not a pretty picture. I bolt upright and wipe away what I hope are the worst of the black smudges with my hand. 

"Hi," Emma says, looking startled. 

"Hi," I sniff. 

"Hi," DJ says awkwardly. He looks around at everything but me. 

"Um, go ahead and put your stuff in my room," Emma instructs. DJ looks thrilled to be out of this situation. 

She immediately rushes over to me with arms wide open. "Honey, honey, it's okay." Her voice is soothing and I rest my head on her chest. 

"It just hit me now," I hiccup. "I d-don't know what to do."

"Eat some cake," Emma declares. 

I smile a little. "Thanks, Marie Antoinette."

We sit like that for a little while longer, Emma rubbing my back in light circles. After a few minutes I tell her to go back to DJ. I don't want to bring them into my pity party. 

I go into the bathroom and wash my face, brush my hair, and take a few deep breaths. There's nothing wrong with crying, I tell myself. 

To distract myself from thinking about Cam, I call Marie, hoping she'll want to hang out tonight. I've almost forgotten about the cheating until I hear her voice when she picks up. Shit, I think, I hope I don't say something stupid. 

"Hey," I say brightly. "Cam and I broke up. Wanna hang out?" This guilt trip may be a manipulative move on my part, but I'm curious about this new guy and I know she won't turn me down in my current state. 

"I- what?" Marie is startled, and I know she's hooked. 

"Yeah," I say dismissively. "Let's get some ice cream or something. Isn't that what I'm supposed to do?" 

"Of course. I'll pick you up."

Twenty minutes later we're at Jeni's, Columbus' famous gourmet ice cream. I always get the goat cheese. It's divine. 

While Marie chooses her flavor, I tell her the quick and dirty about the breakup in a low voice so the others in line won't feel sorry for my pathetic ass. Marie is a great listener, gasping and exclaiming "no!" at all the right places. After we order, we sit outside on a bench. It's a gorgeous night. 

I finish my story and we eat in silence for a little bit. 

"Have you had any contact with him since?" She asks. I shake my head. 

"No," I say. "I'm all about closure, and it's taking everything I have not to text him."

"You'll heal faster if you cut off contact," Marie advises. 

I see an opening and take it. "Is that what you did?" I ask. 

Marie looks startled. "Um, I guess," she says. "Liam and I haven't talked side we broke up, that is."

"But this new guy... He's nice, right?"

"Of course!" I can tell Marie's bristling, so I switch gears. 

"How was the other night with him?" I ask quickly. 

"Oh, good," she says. 

"What did you end up doing?" 

Marie shrugs. "We just hung out."

Okaaaay. It really seems like Marie doesn't want to talk about him. I don't want to push it, but I can't help it.

"He did end up calling, right?"

Marie looks scandalized and chomps down on her spoon. "Look, he did, okay? We're just having fun. It's no big deal. You don't have to babysit me. I know what I'm doing."

"Marie," I say, startled. "I wasn't trying to say you didn't know what you're doing. I'm just curious at what's going on in your life. Obviously you like this guy if you've seen him a few times, and, well, the other night you were acting a little distant. I just wanted to make sure everything is okay."

"Well, it is," she says as she stabs her spoon into the lump of ice cream. 

After a few moments of silence, I try again. "So you think I shouldn't talk to Cam?"

"Do you want to?" She asks. 

"Honestly, not really," I admit. "I'm sad, I'm in shock, but I'm mostly angry. He really hurt me and I hate that it ended like that."

"That's something I definitely understand," Marie says, and I detect a trace of bitterness in her voice that makes me wonder. Did she suspect something had been going on with Liam before they broke up?  

"Hey, I'm sorry I grilled you about this new guy," I say sheepishly. "I just want you to be happy."

"I know," Marie says, and gives me a tiny smile. "I just hope everything goes well."

I nod; can't argue with that. 

Our ice cream is finished, so I suggest we head home. Marie drops me off at my apartment, and when she does, I can't help but think about how we're both keeping secrets. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Matter of Time

I must be in shock, because for the next few days after Cam and I break up, I'm in a relatively good mood. When I tell Emma, I don't even cry. 

"Are you sure you don't need anything?" she asks, her voice full of concern. 

I shrug. "I'm fine for now. Really. I appreciate it though."

After Emma leaves for work, I call up Marie. It's Saturday and I don't really feel like staying in. She doesn't answer, so I text Kolby. 

"Feel like going out tonight? I could use a few drinks." Neither she nor Marie knows about the breakup--it's still fresh in my mind and I haven't told anyone besides Emma and my mom. 

Kolby texts back a few minutes later. "Of course. Pint house at 7?"

Pint house is going to be crowded, no doubt, but as Jordan said in The Great Gatsby, huge parties are intimate. Large, crowded places are private since everyone is doing their own thing. If I cry, which is likely especially with a few drinks in me, I'd prefer to be at a busy place where no one is paying attention to me. 

It's already past five, so I put on makeup and curl my hair for the first time since the split. Cam used to love my hair curled, I think with a lump in my throat. 

Stop it, I tell myself. None of that.

I pull on my favorite sundress, red and light and flowy, and call Marie again. This time she answers. 

"Hey!" I say. "I'm glad I caught you. Do you want to get drinks tonight? Kolb is in."

"Oh, that sounds fun, but I think I'm going to stay in," Marie says dismissively. 

"Oh," I say. "Okay. What's up?"

"Nothing." Marie pauses. It seems like she's trying hard to sound casual. "I've already got plans."

I'm suspicious immediately. "Plans? Like a date?"

Marie sighs, but I can tell she's excited. "Remember that guy I met the night we went bar hopping?"

"You mean the guy you made out with?" I ask.

"Minor details. Well he's actually really cool, and we've gone out a couple times since then."

"Wow! Getting right back on that horse, huh? That's great! So what are you doing tonight?"

"Oh, you know," Marie pauses. "The usual."

"The usual?" I repeat. 

"Okay, okay, he hasn't actually contacted me yet," she says quickly. "But he said he'd call on Saturday, so really it's only a matter of time."

"Marie, why don't you just come out with us? If he calls you can bail. No big deal." I hope it's a convincing argument. 

"I just, well, I think I'm going to stay home." 

Marie may be a sweetheart, but she's no pushover. I don't press things and instead tell her that if she changes her mind, we'll be at Pint House. 

Less than two hours later I spot Kolby standing at the bar. I approach her and bump her with my hip. "Hey pretty."

Kolby turns and hugs me. "You look great! What's the occasion?" 

"Well I just got dumped," I say brightly. 

Kolby's face falls immediately. "Oh God, Ry. Cam broke up with you?"

"I'll tell you everything as soon as I get a drink in me."

Two and a half beers later, the tale has been told, and Kolby is shaking her head. 

"You deserve way better," she tells me. 

"Thanks Kolb," I say, absentmindedly stirring the foam with my index finger. 

"No, really," she insists. "I'm not usually all about this sappy stuff but it sounds like he didn't respect you. And that's what you deserve: a guy who respects you enough to warn you about that kind of thing and stand up for you."

I nod. "You're right." After a big gulp of beer, I continue. "I feel like everything had been going so well, and then all of a sudden I meet his family and it all falls apart."

"That's exactly what happened," Kolby points out. 

For some reason, that makes me laugh. I punch her lightly on the shoulder. "Shut up," I say. "I'm grieving." 

"You'll find someone else soon enough," Kolby assures me. 

That immediately reminds me of Marie. "Speaking of," I say, "did you know Marie's been seeing that guy she met while we were clubbing?"

Kolby wrinkles her nose. "The dude with the weird forehead!"

"Kolby!" I laugh. "Mean, but yes. Him."

Kolby shakes her head. "No, I didn't know. I mean, whatever makes her happy."

"She didn't come out with us because she was waiting on him to call."

"That doesn't sound like Marie at all," Kolby says with a frown. 

"I know!" I agree. "It was weird. When I talked to her about it, it was like pulling teeth." I finish my drink. "It was like she was trying to hide it from me or something."

Shrugging, Kolby says, "well, she's in a delicate place. I'll ask her about it though." She eyes my empty glass. "Want another?" 

I nod. "This one's on me," she announces. "No one who's been recently dumped is allowed to pay for drinks."

I roll my eyes, but I'm glad Kolby is being lighthearted. I don't want to burst into tears out of nowhere. 

When she returns, Kolby has an odd look on her face. "Remember when you saw Liam a few weeks ago?" 

I sit up straighter. "Yeah?"

"He was with a blonde, right?" I nod. "I think they're here tonight." 

I immediately spot them just a few feet away from our table. "You're right," I say quietly. "Well, I guess it's good Marie wasn't here tonight." 

"Should we tell her?" Kolby asks.

"I wouldn't want to know," I say. "Let her do her thing with this new guy. Hearing about Liam and another girl is the last thing she needs."

"Did I hear my name?" Suddenly, Liam is standing next to our table. His blonde is nowhere in sight. Startled, Kolby just states up at him. 

"Yeah," I say coolly. "I was just talking about you and your girl there."

Liam looks around, his eyes roving. He seems nervous. "Look," he says in a low voice, "I don't know how you found out, but do not tell Marie I was cheating, okay?"

Now both Kolby and I are stunned silent. Cheating? That's why they broke up? 

Finally I find my voice. "S-sure," I stutter. 

Liam nods. "Good." And with that, he walks off, presumably to find the girl he cheated on one of my best friends with. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Anger and Acceptance

The sick feeling I had in my stomach when I left Cam stayed with me all week. It was with me at work, when I typed up articles and answered email after email. It was with me when I heard all about Emma's date with DJ. Even though their date had gone swimmingly and I was thrilled for her, a heavy, tight feeling pulled me back from feeling more excited. The feeling was there while I ate, before I went to sleep, and it haunted me in every quiet moment I had alone. 

"You have to do something," Abby told me at lunch between bites of ginger salad. She's heard the story over and over again, and she lends a sympathetic ear. For now, I don't want to talk about it much with Em. The honeymoon phase is going strong with her and DJ and I don't want to put a damper on that. "Have you talked at all?"

I shake my head. "Not one word." It's true. Since the family dinner Cam and I have not spoken. Not a text. Not a call. No flowers for me this time. "This time I think it really might be over." I can feel my chin start to wobble and I will myself to stop. I'm better than this. 

Abby's quiet. I look down at my chicken sandwich. So far, I've only taken one bite. The way I'm acting sure makes it feel like a breakup. 

I sigh. "Anyway, thank you for listening," I tell Abby earnestly. "I don't know what I would be doing without you."

"Eating your lunch alone," she suggest. 

"Probably crying at my desk," I agree. "But really. Should I call him?" 

Abby nods slowly. "I think it would be best. You two are grown adults. This silent treatment can't go on forever. You're making yourselves miserable. Even a real breakup would be better than this."

I know she's right. After lunch, I give him a call. Straight to voicemail, of course. 

"Hey Cam, it's me." I clear my throat. "Ryan. Anyway, I just wanted to know if you'd meet me for drinks tonight. Maybe six thirty? Arch City Tavern." I pause, almost expecting to hear his voice. For a second I consider begging, apologizing, saying how stupid all this is. But I don't. That isn't a conversation to have to a voicemail machine. "Okay. I'll see you then." I hang up and go back to work, the rest of my day a blur. 

By the time six rolls around, I'm a bundle of nerves. I'm at the apartment alone since Emma is with DJ, and honestly that quiet time is a relief.  I need a pep talk, but a pep talk from myself. 

Everything will work out, I tell myself. In one way or another. It will work out. 

I pull on a pair of shorts and a patterned button down. Simple, yet pretty. Flat shoes for once-- no heels. I'm out the door five minutes early. 

When I get to Arch City, I realize Cam never responded. I hope he's actually coming, or else there's a very good chance I'll be taking advantage of the happy hour specials all alone. 

A wave of relief washes over me as I see Cam walk through the doors. He spots me immediately and walks over, his hands in his pockets. My heartbeat quickens when I see him-- he looks good. 

Once he's at the table, we awkwardly look at each other for a few moments, unsure of what to do. He's standing still and I'm sitting, so I begin to stand up just as he leans down towards me. We end up in some sort of half hug. He quickly sits down. This isn't at all how it's supposed to go, I think in a panic. We were supposed to see each other and realize immediately how ridiculous the whole situation is. Cam has barely looked at me in the eyes yet. 

The waiter comes by but retreats quickly when he sees how tense the two of us are, promising to give us "a minute to decide." When he leaves I clear my throat. 

"I just wanted to say that I've really missed you these past few days." 

Cam's nodding, still not looking at me. "I'm sorry I never contacted you. I needed some time to think," he says slowly. 

Now I'm really getting nervous. "What do you think?" I ask. 

He sighs, and I'm growing impatient. "I just feel like we've been fighting a lot."

"What?" I ask. "Maybe at first. But we've been really good lately. I don't think we've been fighting a lot at all." I think to the beginning of our relationship when things were a little rocky. We'd always gotten over it. What made this time so different? "Cam, look at me." He finally does. "Look, I'm sorry if what I said to your sister was out of line. I felt trapped. I wish you would have warned me that I might need to defend myself to your family. You left me completely unprepared and I'm sorry if I embarrassed you or if your family embarrassed you, but I didn't mean to cause any trouble or hurt anyone." I take a deep breath. For the first time I realize how badly I've wanted to say these things. 

"Ryan, I was embarrassed, okay?" Finally Cam looks up at me. "I know my dad can be tough, but I wasn't expecting any of that. I didn't know what to do. And then I felt like you were attacking me in the car."

"What?" I ask incredulously. "Attacking you? I was standing up for myself! You didn't say one thing to stop your dad from belittling me and yet I'm the one attacking you?"

 Cam shakes his head. "Don't get so angry, Ryan."

"Well stop belittling me," I snap. "What your dad said really hurt. I know he's family but I would never let my family talk that way about someone I care about." 

Cam mutters something, so I ask him to speak up. "I just said that this isn't going anywhere," he says in frustration. "If you can't accept my family then I don't think we should be together."

His words are like a slap to the face, and for a second it takes my breath away. "Cam," I say quietly, "I want to get to know your family. Your mom was so sweet, and your sister is really cool. I want to be on their good side. I know your father and I got off on the wrong foot, but I want to make it right." 

Cam shakes his head. "It's not that easy."

"It could be!" I say. I feel myself getting desperate. "Can't you just admit you should have warned me? Why are you making this so hard? You didn't call me once this week--" my voice catches but I continue--"and I feel like you've given up."

He isn't looking at me any more, and that's when I know. "Ryan, I really, really like you, but I don't think this is going to work." 

My mouth is completely dry and I discover that I have nothing left to say, so I nod. Cam stands up to leave, and he looks at me and leans down to kiss my cheek. I turn my head away, even though all I want is to kiss him and tell him we'll work it out. He leaves without another word, and all I can think is that I did all I could. I begged, I apologized, I set this meeting up. And not once did he say he was sorry. That's all I needed to hear. 

Friday, May 2, 2014


            I scrub dishes in Jeannie’s gigantic sink with extra vigor.  My arms will without a doubt be sore tomorrow, but for now I relish the harsh scraping motions.  It’s almost soothing.  Jeannie is chatting with me, her voice nervous.  Cam and his father snuck off a while ago; I’m not sure if they’re arguing or just having a glass of whiskey together or something. 

            I feel as though I’ve swallowed whiskey myself—the uneasy feeling that began at dinner has only grown into a full-blown stomachache.  I had not been expecting this at all.  I know dinner with the parents can be scary, terrifying, even.  But Tom had been so rude, and I’d been so unprepared!  Maybe I would have avoided talking about my job or stuck to silence and smiling if I’d known he’d have been so upset. 

            “You know, he and Clara don’t always see eye to eye,” Jeannie says carefully.  She’s drying a dish, not looking at me but staring into space as though deep in thought.  “She’s the baby, and she’s got a bit of a rebellious streak in her.”  She lets out a light laugh.  “The girl’s got spunk.”

            I glance at Cam’s mother.  Is she jealous of her daughter?  I wait and listen. 

            Sure enough, Jeannie continues.  “Cam and his older brother had their crazy years as well, of course.  But they followed in their father’s footsteps.  Both of them are very smart like their father, and they now work in business.”  She shrugs as I hand her a dish.  “Clara is incredibly intelligent as well, and she would be a fabulously successful accountant.  I can even picture her working in sales.  But she wants to do music.  It’s her calling.  Tom doesn’t agree with that, however.” 

            Suddenly it all clicks into place.  Cam and his brother listened to their father’s career advice.  Clara seems to be refusing and choosing the path less taken and following her passion instead of what’s been set out for her.  I swallow.  Maybe that was why Cam’s father was so rude to me.  I have a job that isn’t typical, but he called it “women’s work.”  I wonder if he thinks music is women’s work as well. 

            “So he wants what’s best for her,” I say, knowing I’m treading on thin ice.  I don’t even know these people, not at all.  I’ve already caused enough of a stir, and definitely don’t want to insult Jeannie. 

            However, she’s nodding.  “Oh dear, I’m afraid I’m spinning you into my family’s web,” she says with a slight laugh.  “I didn’t mean to burden you, Ryan.  I know you weren’t expecting tonight to turn out like this, and to be quite frank, neither did I.”  She dries off the last dish and turns off the faucet.  “You’re right, though.  Tom wants Clara to be successful.  He sees her working in sales or in finance, maybe for a bank.  And the funny thing is that Clara would excel in those fields.”  She shakes her head and looks at me.  “But it’s not what she wants.  How do you tell your child she can’t do what she wants?”  Jeannie shakes her head.  “Well, anyway.  These are the things that burden me from day to day.  All in a day’s work of being a mother, I’m afraid.  That worry never really goes away.”

            I think to my mother and how she always pushed me to follow my dreams.  She worked in design, so supporting my desire to write and work in fashion wasn’t a touch choice for her.  My dad just wanted to be happy.  But I’m sure they worried about me, especially at the end of college when I couldn’t find a job for the first few months after graduation.  But neither of my parents ever pressured me to change my career path or that my dreams were “for women only” or not ambitious enough. 

            I’m a little overwhelmed at how much I now know about Cam’s family.  Jeannie is sweet, but I can’t believe she’s told me so much about her life and family stresses.  Then again, I did just sit through one of the most uncomfortable dinners I’ve experienced, so I suppose an explanation was due. 

            “Should I go find Cam?” I ask.  Jeannie nods. 

            “That might be best.  I’m sure Tom is getting tired.  He had a long day at work.”  She points me in the right direction. 

            Sure enough, I find Cam.  He and his father are speaking in low voices, but silence settles over them like a blanket when I approach. 

            “Hi, Cam.  I think I’m ready to go,” I say, avoiding eye contact with his father.  Cam sits up and adjusts his shirt. 

            “Let’s go,” he says, his voice strained.  Tom stands as well, and for a second I’m afraid he’s going to say something.  However, he just holds out his hand for me to shake. 

            “It was nice meeting you, Ryan,” he says. 

            I smile politely.  “Thank you.  It was nice meeting you as well.”  With that, I grab Cam’s arm and we leave Tom standing alone in the room.

            We say goodbye to Jeannie, who gives us hugs and a Tupperware container of food to go.  As we leave the house, I spot Clara outside.  She waves, and I walk over to her. 

            “If you ever need to talk, have Cam give you my number,” I tell her in a low voice.  “I don’t exactly work at the most traditional job, but I made it happen.  And I know you will too.”  I smile at her and we wave again.  Clara doesn’t say anything, so I’m not sure if she thinks I was helpful or weird, but at this point, I don’t care. 

            As soon as we drive out of the neighborhood, Cam asks, “What did you tell Clara?”

            I hesitate.  Cam doesn’t know what his mother and I discussed, and I almost don’t want to tell him.  He asked, however, and I can’t lie to him.

            I tell him briefly what happened, and I can tell by his body language and tightening grip on the steering wheel that he is not happy. 

            “You told my sister to call you?  Ryan, it’s not an abusive household,” he says sharply. 

            I look over at him in shock.  “Cam.  Of course it isn’t.  I never said that!”

            “You kind of implied it,” he tells me. 

            “That’s not at all what I meant by it,” I say, taken aback.  “I was in a similar situation, career-wise.  I thought she could use some advice if she wants it.”

            “What could you possibly tell her?  To follow her heart?  To disconnect from her family?” He shakes his head. 

            “Do you want her to follow in your footsteps?” I ask carefully.

            Cam sighs.  “I don’t know what I want.  It’s her life.  But she’s making it harder on herself by arguing with our parents all the time!  I want her to be successful, too.”

            I don’t know what to say.  I feel as though I’ve meddled enough into his family business, so I don’t want to talk about Clara anymore.  However, I can’t stop my next words from bubbling out. 

            “Why didn’t you tell me that your father wouldn’t like me?”

            “It’s not like he doesn’t like you,” Cam corrects me sharply.  I heave a sigh.  “Okay, yes, he was rude.  I’m sorry.”  His tone is angry.  “I should have told you that my family is fucked up and my dad has a temper and he wouldn’t approve of your job or your name or anything about you.  He’s difficult sometimes.  But if I’d told you, you would have been nervous.”

            “But I would have been prepared!”

            “Would you have, though?”

            I raise my hands in defeat.  “I don’t know.  Maybe?  But don’t you think you should have said something?”

            Cam’s knuckles are white from gripping the steering wheel so tightly.  “I don’t have an answer to that, Ryan.” 

            We sit in silence for the rest of the car ride, and I wonder how much more silence I can take.  Is it really too much to ask that he would have said something, anything?  I was completely blindsided.  I understand that he was anxious and probably embarrassed, but still.  He had to have known something would have happened. 

            We arrive at my apartment complex, and Cam puts the car in park but leaves it running.  We look at each other for a moment, both lost in thought.  I’m not sure if I should be angry or sympathetic. 

            “Look,” I say softly.  “I’m not going to lie, I really wanted to impress your parents.  And I’m pretty sure that I did the exact opposite of that.  But next time, even if it stresses me out, please just warn me, okay?”

            Cam’s quiet for a minute.  I look down at my shoes, waiting. 

            Finally he says, “Fine.  I’ll warn you next time you’re forced to deal with my family.”  He laughs bitterly.  “I haven’t been able to take a girl to my house for years, and until you I didn’t really want to.  But now I know that was a mistake.”

            It takes me by surprise how hurt I am by what he said.  “A mistake?” I ask.  I can tell by the way my voice wavers slightly that I might cry at any moment.  I gather up my bag and open the door, blinking to keep the tears away.  “I can’t do this right now.  I’ll talk with you later.”  Cam doesn’t say anything as I get out of the car and close the door.  He drives off, and I try not to watch him leave, but I can’t help it.  Though I watch him drive away, my arms crossed in the chilly night air, not once does he turn back to look if I’m still there.

Author’s Note:  Thank you everyone for your patience!  My internet has been restored, and hopefully I won’t have any more problems in the future!  Happy Friday!