In 2002, I’m back in the same position I was the summer of ’99. I moved to New York for graduate school, graduated, then couldn’t find a job so I moved back home to Maryland. I never unpack the boxes of my stuff because that would be like accepting that living in Maryland is permanent. I’m dating a guy, Blue Eyes, who I’ve given the same speech I once gave Logan about not wanting anything serious, and yet again, I’m in some weird emotional entanglement.
There’s also another guy too, “Dude“, who I see at the club every weekend and who I have a school girl crush on, but he’s never asked for my number. But neither of them—the latter for obvious reasons—was going to stop me from moving to New York (although Blue Eyes gave me serious reservations about leaving.)
I got a call with a job offer in the city. I took it immediately. I went to the city and found an apartment in three days. That apartment didn’t have central air. That’s how my mother and I ended up at a department store one afternoon looking for an AC unit.
Some salesman is explaining BTUs to us and I’m trying to guess how big my apartment is since in a rookie mistake, I never measured the rooms. He’s trying to get us to take the bigger one “just to be sure” and I’m trying to figure out if it will fit in the window, which I also forgot to measure— another rookie mistake.
And then I hear my name, “[Belle]?!”
I turn around to see a guy coming toward me hurriedly and all wide-eyed. Mum actually recognizes him first. “Isn’t that… that boy?”, she aks.
Well, thanks for all that detail, Mum.
He smiles. I’d remember that smile anywhere. And then it all comes back. Well, the end of it anyway.
He walks up happy to see me, and I stand there looking at him. “You remember me, right? Logan?”
I purse my lips to keep from smiling. The good stuff’s coming back now too.
“How are you?” he asks.
“I’m good. You?”
“Did you like London?”
“You didn’t write me back.”
So much for small talk, huh? I look around to see where Mum is. I’m hoping she’s close so I can avoid this conversation, but no, she’s off somewhere with the salesman looking at even bigger air conditioners. Here we go.
“You thought I would after your letter?” I ask.
“You should have,” he insists.
“What else was there to say?”
“A lot. If you called when you got back you might have wanted to hear what I had to say too.”
I look at him blankly, refusing to egg him on. He studies me, seeming to debate whether he wants to say it now. Understandable. He is at work at all. And I’m not exactly a willing participant in this conversation.
“Let me take you out,” he offers. “We can talk about it.”
He flashes that smile. Apparently, he’s fully aware now of the affect it has on women. God, he’s cute. I wish we had a different history.
I shake my head. “No point. I’m moving to New York.”
“You got into grad school?” he asks like he’s excited for me.
He remembered, but he’s a little late. “I finished grad school in December. I’m moving up there permanently this time.” Or I hope it’s permanent.
“Always on the move, huh?” He chuckles. “So let me call you then.” It’s a statement, not a question. It requires me to give him my new number, a 917, not a 240 like back in the day. I’d had it changed the first night I moved to New York for grad school.
“How old is your kid?” I ask. I suddenly want to have this conversation now, if for no other reason than he’s acting like everything is fine when it isn’t and I want to wrap up every loose end before I leave.
“That’s the thing. My ex? She had a miscarriage!” He exclaims that his ex lost their baby with the same joy a doctor would announcing, “It’s a boy!”
I don’t know if he realizes how fucked up that sounds, but I do. “Wow… that’s… I’m sorry to hear that.” I’m completely thrown off not just by the news, but his supreme delight over it.
“I’m not,” he says nonchalantly. “So can I call you?”
Like. Wow. I laugh—not giggle—because I don’t know what else to do. “Uh… I need to go find my mom. I’m leaving tomorrow and we got errands and…”
He gets it. “That’s a no, huh?”
I shrug awkwardly. “Yeah, that’s a no.” I nod, trying to find something else to say to officially end this conversation politely and thankfully, he lets me off the hook.
“Well, it was good seeing you, D. Good luck in New York. I’ guess I’ll just read your byline sometime, huh?”
I tell him thanks, and wander off to find my mother at the register.