Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Waiting Room


"Oh, I think 1996 or 1997? I can't remember which, sometime during high school, maybe it was both."

"Why didn't it work?"

"Uh, hmm. I was a total geek but some reason girls totally dug me. I think it was the limp..."

"Go on."

"Yeah, so, I told her I didn't want a girlfriend, just friends that were girls."


"I know. What about you?"

"Oh, college, Freshman year. I was a total asshole, but you know, I sort of did that on purpose, I think. Made girls fall for me, then pull the rug out from under them."

"I'm sensing a pattern."

"I wonder if she ever did..."

The two tall, dark haired men stand in one corner of the drab waiting room, surrounded by other men of varying heights, weights, hair colors and races. They're all talking about her, the girl who's in the room downstairs, waiting to marry the guy upstairs. They're waiting, waiting for the possibility that the guy upstairs will join them here in the waiting room.

In another corner, a short blond guy with an impossibly outdated goatee chats up a tall Korean American guy with a tendency to interrupt each sentence.

"So, how do you know her?" Says the blond, as he adjusts the brightly colored scarf around his neck.

"Scuse me? Uh, I don't know. We went to some thing together, a couple of Giants games."

"Giants games? Me, too, or at least.."

"Sorry, dude, but I'm trying to find a television with a decent picture. I've got HDTV at home, the picture's like I'm right on the field, why are we here again?"

"I think we're waiting. Didn't you get the e-mail?"

"I don't really check my e-mail that much. I've got other stuff to do." The guy pushes his thick, black framed glasses up on the bridge of this nose.

"Ah, I see."

They're all waiting, not quite sure what they're waiting on, but they're there, aware of the fact that they all know her. Not that they all remember her very clearly.

"I think we went out junior year of college," says a guy with reddish blond hair, a prominent nose. He's clutching a bible and seems really nervous to be around people who might start asking him questions. "But it must not have been for very long, because I can't remember her name at all...Carol? Sheryl?"

"It's Beryl." A short, slightly balding man wearing an untucked Giants t-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap says abruptly. "What's so hard about that?"

"Look, guy, I don't even know why I'm here. What we went out like two times? And then it just got awkward."

"Yeah, well I was her first kiss, and I'd like to see how this one turns out."

"He'll leave, or she'll make him leave, just like the rest of us," interjects the newest addition to the bunch, a tall, red-haired man who has just arrived, looking pissed off, confused and impatient. "It's what she does. She makes us fall in love with her, and then she kicks us to the curb."

One of the two dark-haired men in the corner speaks up, "I totally didn't love her, Red, so I have no idea what the hell you're talking about." A gold hoop earing shines on each earlobe, "Maybe you fell in love, but I think she fell in love with me."

"Wait, wait, let me get this straight, Beryl loved you, but she didn't love him," the guy with the goatee seems interested in what happens, just for the sake of getting to the end of the story.

"Probably. I think she tends to fall for guys who will never love her back. It's safe that way. She can be artistic and angsty and have that pain in her chest but she never has to actually change her life."

"Well, aren't you Mister Philosophy," Red glares at the guy with the earrings.

"Look, I get called to more than one of these waiting rooms for more than one girl. I think I know what I'm talking about, besides, you're just jealous."

"Of what? She never even kissed you."

"Yeah, but here' s the difference, I didn't want her to."

"Yo! Seriously! The game starts in like fifteen minutes, and I've got money riding on this one." The Korean guy paces around the room, flexing his muscles.

"As far as I can tell, you shouldn't even be here, because she still talks to you. You're a friend. Get the hell out." The guy with the goatee understands the rules now, and the Korean guy ponders his chances of getting out of the door that doesn't have a handle.

Before he has a chance to ram the door or try to say some magic word, the door opens. All the guys, even the one-daters shaking their legs nervously in the stained waiting room chairs, completely unsure of what's going on, who this Beryl is, and why they need to be in this room, with these clearly disturbed men, look up curiously.

Someone new stands in the doorway.

The guy with the goatee, apparently the ringleader of the group, approaches the door, "So, she did it? She cut you loose? I was pulling for you man."

The man doesn't enter the room, he's just a shadow, his features unclear, his height uncertain. He moves closer to the door, pushes his arm into the room. It's black-suited arm.

"Is that a tuxedo?" says the redhead incredulously, "She left you at the altar! Wow, and I thought I got shafted with a phone call argument followed by an e-mail break-up."

"Shut up, he's got something to say," the Korean guy breaks into the conversation, distracted, for a moment, from his quest for HDTV.

"What do you have to say?" Asks Mr. Goatee.

"She did it."

Shouts of indecipherable dismay fill the room:

"Ah man!"

"That's messed up."

"I thought she got it right this time."

"I don't want to have to keep coming here."

"He's not done," whispers the balding guy in the baseball cap, "And he's not coming in."

"She did it. We got married."

Silence fills the room, and all of the men, with the exception of the one-daters, who, quite frankly, couldn't care less about her and her escapades, stare open mouthed and speechless at the shadow man in the doorway.

"You're all free to go."

The shadow man turns from the door, leaving it wide open.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Final Details

I could tell you that I found a kick-ass apartment in the North End, with exposed brick walls, kind, quiet neighbors and more floor space than I knew what to do with, but that would be a lie.

After I figured out why I had come to Boston, I stopped looking for an apartment and had a long talk with Hunky Mike.

I could tell you that I declared my love for him and that we moved in together and now, as the snow falls upon us, frequently make out by the light of a street lamp, glowing with love and passion. But that would also be a lie.

Instead, I talked to him about this new job, this fabulous opportunity, I got down to business and got the nitty-gritty details. What would I be doing exactly? How much would he pay me? Between what I saved by living with my parents (minus, of course, the money I just had to spend on shoes, purses and other items necessary in the life of a woman) and the decent salary I would be making at the online magazine (the online version of a popular print magazine, as it turned out), I could afford to buy a place. It's not fancy, but it's not a studio. It's tiny one bedroom walk-up in a neighborhood that just barely passes as Beacon Hill, and I love it. It's mine (or it will be in 30 years), and I can do what I want with it. I can have Hunky Mike over for dinner, which I might, once he's really over his wife...

That's the other thing. I must admit that I harbored some fantasies about Mike wanting me to move to Boston so that we could be togother, but I realized soon after we got here and Mike had hour long conversations with Kathleen each day on the office phone that Mike's not the guy for me. He's not the guy for me, because he's the guy for Kathleen. But he's also not the guy, because I've met someone else.

I'm in a brand new relationship, and I'm keeping the details to myself.

But I can shout from the rooftops that this time around, I'm not just beating Boston, I'm loving Boston.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Beating Boston

It took me all night. Literally, all night. I didn't sleep. My mother would have killed me. Or at least made me hot chocolate.

I stayed up that entire night, trying to piece together my logic. Why would I return to a place that I hated oh so much? My friends had stopped short of asking me that very question.

But before I met with Mike in a couple of days, I had to have an answer that went beyond, "Well, he asked me to come."

When the crisp, autumn sun finally started to poke through the curtains, I had a break through. When I'd lived in Boston before, my favorite part of day had been the sunrise. I would actually make an effort to get up to see it blossiming over the horizon. Even if I immediatley crawled back into my double bed, which I usually did, and pulled my red flowered bedspread over my head, which I usually did, the sunrise gave me hope that I could succeed in this practically foreign city.

I stood up, walked to the floor-length window, parted the curtains and stared out at the still-empty street.

The sunrise made me realize that I had returned to Boston, because this time I wanted to win. I didn't want to tuck my tail between my legs and scurry away, back to California where the sun shone and the snow never fell. I wanted to keep the confidence the sunrise gave me throughout each and every day.

Exhausted after my long night of apartment and soul searching, I shuffled back to bed, crawled under the delicately patterned duvet, pulled it over my head and slept.