Addison Gonzales [BAI]

fyi: I don't actually re-read my own writing so I apologize for any and all grammatical errors.

I briskly paraded my way across Houston as cars sped past, horns blaring. As usual, I refused to walk to the corner to cross at the crosswalk so I was stuck playing a life-size version of Frogger in the middle of the Lower East Side. Rather typically, I was late and could not be bothered with the niceties and rules of the road. As a Toyota Camry drove past me, nearly clipping my leg I quickened my pace and ran towards the median.

“Well that was close,” I mumbled as I brushed off the realization that I am literally killing myself to get to this damn lunch. But if I was going to kill myself for someone, it might as well be Russell. After all, he /did/ manage to get me a job when Next Magazine went under; thus, saving me from being homeless. Beyond that, he seemed to be the only person who understood why I refused to ask my parents for help during the month or so that I was out of work. While all of my other friends thought it was a no brainer to run to mommy and daddy anytime anything went wrong in their lives, he understood why I couldn’t do that. He understood where I was coming from. When everyone said I was being dumb, he understood my pride. He understood me. Period.

I glanced down at my watch, I was 15 minutes late. Luckily, he knew me well enough to know that I would be there eventually, and that I hadn’t stood him up. I caught a glimpse of ‘inoteca, our favorite lunch spot, as I hurried down Ludlow Street. The smell of sweet marinara and pancetta lingered in the air igniting my senses and turning my walk into an all-out run. In no time at all, I was down the block, and right in front of the restaurant.

I made my way into the quaint restaurant and was greeted by loud noises, fabulous smells and a seemingly endless wall of wines. I walked downstairs to the make-shift wine cellar that doubled as a secondary dining room, where I spotted Russell who looked prim as ever. Looking like he had just stepped out of a J. Crew advertisement, he wore a royal blue sweater over a plaid button down and a perfect pair of worn in light gray chinos which he topped off with his signature white Chucks. I have got to hand it to the guy, he never misses a sartorial beat.

He stood up as I approached the table, and opened his arms for a hug. “You’re early,” he whispered into my ear as I kissed his cheek.

“Ugh, what an insult! I have never and will never be on time!” I said with mock offence, which brought a smile to both of our faces. “No seriously, sorry for being late.” I took off my trench and we both sat down.

He rolled his eyes, “I’m used to it by now. You’re never on mime—I mean, time.” It was just like him to passive aggressively poke fun at my mime- dating misfortune.

“Ha. Ha.” I laughed pointedly, highly unamused.

“Anyway, how are y—“ Russ asked before being interrupted by a text. He beamed brightly as he read it and feverishly responded. Well... that was new.

“I’m miserable.” I said with a smile as I batted my eyelashes.

As if he was pulled out of a day dream, he responded, “Oh yeah, that’s great. Wait—no that sucks.”

“Why are you miserable?”

I went on to describe my roommate, Bethany’s, rampant sex life and how it irritated me to no avail. How every night for hours on end I was forced to listen to the sounds of her moaning on and on until they eventually fell asleep. How the constant sounds of baby-making had driven me to drink. How much fun I was NOT having anytime I was home.

“Sounds like you need to get you some.” He chuckled, as I glared at him. “In all seriousness, I love you but you sound a teensy bit jealous.” He was the second person to tell me that, but they both were wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I was not jealous of Bethany and Nate, I was simply disgusted by their incessant humping. As I pondered this, Russ received yet another text which was also met with a bright smile and a quick text back.

“I am not jealous. Anyway, new topic. Who are you texting?”

“Mind your business. Anyway, I know this is hard for you, but why don’t you just try to be happy for the girl? I’m sure it won’t kill you.”

“It might, you never know.”

“Why is it so impossible for you to be happy for your friend? Do you not like the guy or something?”

“No, I like the guy. He’s great. I don’t really know why he’s with Bethany, but he’s great.

He raised his eyebrow, “Jealous—“

“Don’t. He just doesn’t seem to be her type, that’s all.”

“Mhmm.”

“He’s not!” I whined. “He’s all cool indie hipster type, and she’s all boring bland Connecticut type.”

Again, Russell was texted, “Whatever you say, babe.”

Not before long, the waiter came, took our orders and brought us a bottle of wine and complementary bread and cheese. We finally changed topics to something a bit brighter. We munched on bread as we began discussing our new jobs.

Thanks to Russ, I was now working as an intern at House Beautiful magazine, a publication that focused on interior design, culinary skills and entertaining. Basically, it was a dream come true. I was working in a field that I love—journalism—while writing about topics that I love—food, décor, parties. What’s not to love? Russell, too, had a new job. He was now a copy editor for the Daily News, which was a nice way of saying that he gets paid a shit ton of money to read the newspaper and make a few corrections. Cushy, no?

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed our waiter walking towards us with a tray of food. I craned my neck to catch a glimpse of the tray’s contents. As I had hoped, it was our food. I became giddy with anticipation and began bouncing up and down.

“You’re like—“ Russ started before eyeing another text. With each text his smile got brighter, yet I became more agitated. Being ignored was not one of my favorite activities, and not knowing who he was texting made it even worse.

I waited for him to finish, but he seemed to lose his train of thought. “I’m like what?”

“Huh?” He raised his brow.

“You said ‘you’re like’ and then you stopped talking.”

“Oh uh,” again, he looked down at his phone and laughed, “I-I uh, I don’t know what we’re talking about.”

“Nevermind.” I sighed. I fell silent as my anticipation wore off and the waiter placed our food on the table. Suddenly, I was disinterested with my smoked mozzarella, grilled zucchini & peperonata Panini.

I got about half way through my plate when I gazed over at Russ’ delicious eggplant lasagna. Once again, Russ was too involved with his texts to notice me, so I reached over the table and began eating his food.

After my third bite, he looked away from the phone and realized what I was doing. He swatted me away, “Eat your own food! This is mine.” I sighed as he went back to his text conversation.

I stared at him across the table. He was so happy, so focused on his mystery texter. Pangs of jealousy filled my head as my cheeks began to burn from embarrassment. “I guess I’m just not that interesting,” I thought to myself.

Russell’s annoying doorbell text alert pulled me away from my musings. I looked over at him, in distaste while he was engrossed in a full-body laugh. Apparently the mystery texter was funny. At that point, I had sat through enough. I blurted out, “Ok that has got to stop!”

Confused, he stared at me with his mouth agape as he uttered, “What?”

“The teeth, the mouth, the happiness. Either share what you're on or get the hell out.”

He grinned and joked, “Get over yourself.”

I betrayed my anger by giggling slightly. Damn him and his instant charm. “What’s her name?”

“Why do you ask questions you don’t want the answer to?”

“Who says I don’t want the answer?”

“You hate relationships. You hate people /in/ relationships. Hell, you hate the word relationship. So why bother getting into it?”

“Since when are you in a relationship?” I stared like a deer caught in headlights. I was beginning to see that Russ and I might not be as close as I thought we were and started to wonder if everyone kept their romantic lives separate from the friendship we shared. Was Lily seeing someone without telling me? I had not heard from Billie in ages, was it because she too had a boyfriend? I zoned out and let my paranoia engulf me. What if the problem does not lie with everyone who has caught the disgusting lovebug? What if it’s me? What if I’m like one of those orphans who grows up not knowing how to love? What if /I/ am the problem? I’m going to end up alone with cats aren’t I? I hate cats.

Seemingly noticing my stunned silence, Russ waved at me, “Hellooooo…”

Once again, my neurosis had gotten the better of me. I looked down at my plate, not wanting to look him in the eye and completely unsure of what to say next. All of a sudden I felt the warmth of his hands, pinch my cheeks. He slid his hand under my chin and lifted my head until I was looking in his eyes. “I’ve been a shitty date, huh?”

I shook my head, “It’s not a date. After all, you’ve got a girlfriend.”

He swept his hand from under my chin and ran his fingers through my curls. He sighed, “I love your hair. Not enough girls have curly hair.”

“You’re changing the subject. Why didn’t you tell me you had a girlfriend? I thought we were closer than that.” I stared at him, completely unsure of where I stood in his life. I thought we were best friends. We should be able to tell each other anything… anything.

He pulled softly on a tendril of hair and watched it spring back up, “We are close. We’ll always be close. I just didn’t want to bore you with the details.” He shrugged. “I’m sorry.” He pulled his arms back as the waiter came by and placed the check on the table. I reached for the bill, but he lightly smacked my hand away. “My treat.”

“No,” I argued, “I’ve got it. New job and all that…” I spoke softly; obviously sad about the sour turn our lunch had taken.

He shook his head and whipped out his wallet. He took out some cash, motioned to the waiter to come over, and handed it to him. The waiter thanked us and bid us a good day.

We stood up and got ready to leave. I patted down my pink top and threw my coat over my shoulders. As he put on his coat he asked, “You want to meet her?”

Before I could think, I answered, “Sure.”

“You don’t sound too sure…”

“I am. I want to meet her.” Wait—what did I just say? I don’t want to meet her. I don’t want to see the person who was interesting enough to pull his attention away from our lunch, away from me.

“Great.”

Not great.

He walked over to me and put his arm around my waste, pulling me in for a hug. “You’ll like her, I promise.”

“Why do people always say that?” I asked pulling away and turning towards the exit. “I never like anyone.”

He laughed loudly as he followed behind me, “This is why I love you.”

Ugh, more love.

---

Sorry that was really long and boring.
Addison can be quite moody can't she?
Ugh, that's what happens when you write on different days I guess.
The next one will be much more upbeat.
Please write, "I don't want to be in love," if you read it all.
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