Six months. Six months is what it took until you ended up at my apartment doorstep and left me dumbfounded.
“Hi” It was all I could really say as I opened my door. My peephole being blacked out after a really bad paint job to the door.
“Hi” She retorted. She was never much for using her words. “Can I come in?” I stepped aside to let her walk in. I could smell her perfume as she walked by me. I wasn’t quite sure why she was at my apartment or how she even found out where I lived. You see I worked with Katy for almost nine months. I had transferred to a new location for a promotion at a new store. She was a new hire just like the rest of them. I had lived through many errant choices before that I knew better than to get involved with any of my coworkers. Technically I was half her boss and half her coworker. I could tell her what do but couldn’t really do anything to reprimand her or get her fired. I don’t think she realized that for the longest time. She was a quiet girl. She was smart. She knew how to deflect her issues and changed the subject to something else without people realizing. I realized though and wouldn’t let it happened. Early on when I met her she confessed to me that she wasn’t confident in herself. She didn’t know what she was doing at work or in life. I made it my goal to boast her confidence. It was a moment of weakness. It was something that only happened once the entire time I knew her. She was a very guarded person. She was one person at work and another away. But nobody really knew what she was like away from work.
I say it was six months because that was the first time I had tried to make her my friend. I really wasn’t interested in her romantically. She was smart, quick-witted, and had a nice body that I appreciated, but with all my years on this Earth I just knew we would never work. She was a quiet Sunday morning brunch with the family. I was a Friday night out at 1 AM karaoke with a Saturday hangover. She wasn’t naive but she was still innocent in the way of men, in the way of people. There’s just nothing you can really say about the five years of growing and learning that separated us. Only after a few small attempts did I finally just get the hint that it was never going to happen. It had been three months since I had given up on her entirely as a person. I didn’t ask her personal questions anymore. I didn’t try to get involved in her life issues. I just stopped doing anything. If she asked me a question I answered it. When she was rude to me I just ignored her. I didn’t ask her what was wrong. When I could tell she was trying to start a conversation I just found a reason to walk away so I wasn’t around her. In a sense I had moved on. I thought I had found another few friends outside of work that I was content with. I didn’t need to bother with her anymore. But then those friends left. They had moved away for other personal reasons and I was left alone. I was destined to be alone and drink my sorrows away in the apartment that nobody knew about. Then suddenly she appeared.
“Nice place” She said. “I thought you might have some more stuff.” I couldn’t tell if she was being polite or if she was just honest. I had accepted the fact that she was one of the few people I couldn’t read. I didn’t really know anything about her. It was a bitter pill to swallow for someone as perceptive as I.
“Yeah well I don’t like owning a lot of things. I’ve moved a lot in my life and only kept the things that mattered.”
“So those two recliner chairs matter to you?” She said slightly sarcastic.
“They’re the last chairs that my grandma and grandpa sat on.” I said. It was true but I was also judging her reaction. I could see regret. She obviously hoped for a lighter mood. It was already night time. I thought it was passed nine o’clock but I wasn’t really sure. I had a couple alcoholic beverages but wasn’t drunk or slurring my words. I was still trying to get my head around the situation. Girls, or women, who come over to your place once it’s dark out without invitation usually only want two things. They want to cry on your shoulder over something their boyfriend has done and they have nobody else that will listen to them, or they want to have sex with you. Katy was single and definitely not aggressive enough to come over for sex. But she was also like a deer. The moment I would say something bold or insensitive she’d run for the door. The only thing I could do was hear her out.
“Oh…” I knew I had already caught her off guard. “You want to give me a quick tour?”
“Sure. There’s not much to the place. As you can see my living room, dining room, and kitchen from where you stand. If you come over here this is my bathroom and bed room.” She walked over and stood next to me in my bedroom doorway.”
“Your bedroom is pretty big.”
“Well I need enough space for me and my ego.” She didn’t laugh. Which I didn’t think that she would. I often joked at work about having a big ego when deep down I didn’t. I think she was smart enough to know that. I cared more about people than I ever wanted to. Not that I cared about what they thought of me. I just always wanted to make sure people were doing okay. I never had a problem if people were better off than me. I was always happy for them. She walked back into the living room and sat down on one of my recliners. I followed suit and sat in the other one. I angled myself to look at her. In the back part of my brain I was kind of bummed out. If she was here for sex she would have sat on my bed. And boy oh boy did she have a nice body that I wouldn’t mind seeing. Either way my curiosity was peaked that this was only a back thought in my mind.
“Do you like living alone?” She asked.
“Yeah I do. You don’t have to worry about other people griping about the dishes or the trash. You don’t have to worry about other people using your stuff or waking you up. It’s just all to your liking.”
“I think I’d like to live alone, but I’m not sure. I don’t think I could ever afford it. I’ve always lived with family so we’ve taken care of each other.”
“Yeah well it’s not for everyone. I guess I just don’t mind being alone. I like having my safe place to get away from the world for a while.”
“Don’t you get lonely?” She asked. This time she looked directly at me for an answer instead of her eyes looking around my apartment. I paused for a second. She caught me off guard. This wasn’t a person you just lied to and gave her the easy lie. She’d know you were lieing.
“I mean yeah. I think we all get lonely from time to time. But what am I really going to do about it? You can’t force people to be your friends. You can’t force people to want to be in your life. It just happens or it doesn’t.”
“So what was Jessica?” Jessica was a coworker of ours. We were really buddy buddy at work. She was my friend outside of work before she left. She was homesick and her fiancée had gotten fired. So they both decided to return home.
“Jessica was my friend. What did you think she was?” I asked a little offended. You never really know what people said about you behind your back. From all I could interpret the majority of my coworkers believed I was a dumb womanizing jock. But the biggest joke of it all was that was exactly what I wanted them to think. So they wouldn’t realize all the subtly cues I was using to get them to do what I wanted them to do.
“I don’t know. You guys seemed to have all these inside jokes and stuff. I think people thought you guys were hooking up.”
“Well I hate to break everyone’s fantasies, but I can be friends with a girl. Frankly I’ve always had one female friend who has been my most loyal confidant person.”
“Oh…” that was all she said. Katy was never a very good conversationalist. You either kept the conversation going or it stopped. I stood up out of my chair.
“You want me to put the music back on? I can get you a drink and we can just listen to some music?”
“What kind of drink would you like? I have beer, or I could make you a mixed drink. I have whiskey and rum.”
“What are you drinking?” She asked.
“A ginger ale and whiskey.” She got out of her chair and came over and took a sip from my glass.
“Yeah that’s good. I’ll have one of those.” I went to the kitchen and made her a light mix. I had remembered at our company party that she wouldn’t even drink a beer. She wasn’t a drinker at all. She had told me a story where her boyfriend got drunk at a friend’s house so she just left because she felt uncomfortable around them. Suddenly she was about to drink liquor with me? Again I was confused. Was she about to confess some major problems to me? Or might I get lucky and she actually did want to hook up with me? I couldn’t really tell. I made the drink and brought it over to her. She was sitting in my recliner again. I walked over and turned my laptop back on but turned down the speaker so it was quiet enough to talk.
“Who were you listening to?” She asked.
“Oh It’s just Pandora. I put on a Gary Clark Jr. playlist. It’s more of a blues and rock playlist.”
“Why were you listening to the blues?” I didn’t really want to tell her. She wasn’t a person I had serious conversations with anymore. I had never taken her for a person who actually cared about my well-being. I guess that somehow changed when she showed up at my doorstep. I guess I had to take advantage of the one ear I had at the moment.
“Do you seriously want to know?” I asked. She nodded her head. “Well… Jessica just left, and that was right after David just left so I was kind of mourning our friendships. They were the only two friends I ever had here… and now they’re gone. I’m alone. Which just makes me think that maybe that’s where I’m supposed to be. I’m supposed to be that guy that goes out and does these fun crazy adventures that people all wish they could do. But at the end of the day they can’t because they have responsibilities, and they have a family they have to worry about so they can’t afford to be like me and be reckless and spontaneous and just go out there to chase thrills. And I’m just sitting here wondering if that’s all I’m going to be. I’ll be the guy you see once in a blue moon and we trade war stories of our past. They’ll want to know what I’ve been up to and I’ll tell them some of the fun stuff I’ve done and that’ll be that. Nothing changes. The thing they don’t realize is that between these fun adventures there’s a down time of just six months of nothing. It’s just six months of being stuck in a room with yourself because nobody else gets it. Nobody else gets you. So… I guess that’s what I’ve been thinking about all night.” She didn’t say anything. She just kind of awkwardly grinned. One of the things about that I hated was sometimes you just need to say something. It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong. The person will realize the effort. When you say nothing the person almost always assumes you don’t care or weren’t even listening. I knew she was listening, but I also knew she was stuck processing and not good with words. Never-the-less it was frustrating. I got up to make myself another drink.
“So…” She said when I sat down. I glanced over at the clock. It was passed ten o’clock.
“So… isn’t it passed your bed time? What are you doing here anyways?”
“I don’t know. I just wanted to talk with you.”
“You wanted to talk with me?” I asked angrily confused. “Then why didn’t you send me a text message? Isn’t that what the kids do these days?” She didn’t say anything. “Ah! Why do you do this do me? Do you enjoy messing with me?”
“No! No. I mean… I don’t mean to. I just don’t know what to say. You’re so intimidating sometimes.”
“Intimidating? I’m just honest. I’m a real person. I’d rather communicate in person than through technology.”
“I don’t know. What do you want me to say?” I could tell she was feeling flustered. She was probably a little angry at this point. So I looked at her and took a deep breath hoping she’d copy me. She didn’t. She just looked at me.
“Relax. Just have a conversation with me… when you showed up at my doorstep tonight what did you want to talk about? I’m not here to judge. I’m just here to listen.” I said trying to act calm and adult-like.
“I don’t know. I missed you. Wow that sounds weird. I see you almost every day.” She awkwardly laughed. I could tell she was trying to laugh off the situation.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You don’t really talk to me anymore. Sure we talk about work stuff, but we don’t really talk about real life stuff anymore.”
“Why would we?” I asked. You never gave me any indication that you even cared? Sure you might responded to my questions or my few text messages but you never initiated anything. How would you expect me to react?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well… as a guy in management you start to think maybe you’re being too much. Maybe you’re putting someone in an awkward situation and you need to step off. If she has any feelings about it being appreciated she’ll reach out to you… but you didn’t. So I stopped. I gave up. Because as interesting as I thought you were and as a good of a friend I thought you might be… you never gave me any indication you wanted to be friends.” I said. Katy didn’t say anything. She just paused and finally took her first sip of the drink she had been holding.
“Look… if you’re not really going to talk about anything. Then why are you even here? How did you even find my place?” I asked.
“I asked Jacob. I knew you guys lived in the same apartment complexes. He gave me your address.”
“So if you went through all this hassle to find out where I live… what did you really want to say to me?”
“I don’t know.” She said. She put her drink down and headed for the door. She opened the door but I pushed it closed.
“Look… I can’t read your mind. And as much as you think men are idiots this is what I know… I liked you. And I think you like me.” She turned and faced me. Our faces were centimeters away from one another. She looked at me and then closed her eyes. I could tell she wanted me to kiss her. The temptation of wanting to know what it felt like overcame me. I kissed her. It was long and slow. It was probably only a few seconds, but it felt like an hour. I pulled away and she looked into my eyes. “Like I said… I liked you. But I realized after a while that it would never work. You’re a girl still trying to figure out who you are. You don’t know what you want. And even if you did you don’t have the confidence or words to get it. You just see what’s in front of you and you want to be like it. I’m not going to be one of those guys. I’m not going to be one of the guys that takes advantage during one of the phases you’re going through. I’m not that guy anymore.” I walked her out of my front door kissed her on the forehead and went back inside and closed the door. I refuse to be one of your phases.