I have an empty day so I’m inserting this as evidence that the smart and brilliant are just as flawed as the rest of us and screw up dates. But I remain the pro at this.
(*Originally sent – November 5, 2004)
It’s Friday and many of my coworkers, in true polite-office-chat-fashion, asked me what I was going to be up to this weekend. My answer had been:
“I’m a ‘weekend widow’! My boyfriend will be gone most of the time leaving me on my own.”
I would then wait for them to try and commiserate and say something along the lines of ‘too bad’ and then I would gleefully tell them ‘no’ that this was a good thing and that I was looking forward to being alone and getting some things done. What kind of stuff, they’d ask? The kind of stuff you put off when someone else is in the apartment asking you if you want to go out because they “are bored and don’t want to waste the weekend indoors”.
The kinds of stuff you cannot do when someone else is looking over your shoulder or trying to read you something from the internet breaking your concentration (like writing some emails finally for example). I was looking forward to a productive weekend fully occupied in Crossing Things Off My List and Doing the Stuff I Never Seem To Have Time To Do, and so on and so forth.
Then, infallibly, would come the query, ‘where is my boyfriend going?’. The answer was: not very far actually. Oliver signed up for the latest round of the Fullbright Alumni reunion weekend. It’s sort of a decompression weekend for ‘Fullbrighters’ newly back from their year abroad, people finished with their studies as well as ‘old timers’ who had found time to join.
In the end it’s a big networking party, consider it a Skull and Bones for the non-Harvard elite crowd. Many activities are being held at the offices of Boston Consulting Group – which makes a huge effort to recruit Fullbright alums. Oliver, now being finished with his PhD as well as being over the euphoria of Being Fucking Done With That Shit, has to start working on the ‘what now’ part of his life and career and figured the alumni weekend would be a good kick-off for his job search.
So I was given fair warning and made plans to be solo and freewheeling this weekend as he would be fully occupied in hob-knobbing and brown-nosing with the intellectual elite.
I did end up shamelessly using my impending ‘abandonment’ to wrangle a free car ride home. Usually I take the subway, and normally it isn’t a problem except that this time there were the flowers. Yes, the flowers. It’s pathetically cheap but the flower arrangement for the reception desk in my office was still so fresh and nice that I just could not bear to have someone throw it away. So I volunteered to take the thing home (this is the same attitude that got me two pet rats and six chickens if I’m not mistaken). Problem was that it was huge, as in gargantuan in proportion, filled out with thorn-covered branches and bulked up with giant flowers and whole apples shoved in for detail. There was no way I was going to be able to squeeze onto a crowded S-bahn and get home without incident.
Shamlessly, I manipulated my partner for a pick-up and had a rocking ride home reclined in my seat with a vase gripped between my calves to keep the thorns from raking the upholstery on the ceiling, dodging errant branches intent on using my corneas as decoration.
I even got a front door drop-off that involved blocking traffic as I put the vase on the street so I could get out of the car. The thing just takes up that much SPACE.
The understanding was that Oliver would then park the car, grab my subway pass and head off to the welcome mixer taking place at some old bar in the middle of town.
I could tell Oliver wasn’t really feelin’ it and was asking himself, ‘why did I feel I had to go to this thing?’. This I could understand, after a full work week, on a Friday that has turned out rather cold and rainy, going to a mixer where you have to be charming and sell yourself isn’t really upfront in one’s mind as a ‘hot night on the town’.
Which was actually exactly why I’d gotten myself out of having to participate at all.
Olli talked me into an early dinner at a local creperie we’d been meaning to try. He and I lingered over a carafe of wine discussing this weekend, what he would be doing, as well as next weekend for which we have Serious Full Weekend Plans with a party at our place Saturday night. We lingered as long as we could until Oliver could come up with no more excuses not to go to this mixer-thing.
I headed home – still hungry do you know how thin crepes are? As Olli put it: ‘Really add some more dough, call it pizza and don’t waste my time’ – and got into comfy clothes, ready to start my loner weekend with some Watching TV in Bed While Eating and Viewing Something That Has Nothing To Do With The Election. I was halfway towards this goal when the phone rang.
“Hi Megan its me, listen could you get out some papers from my briefcase? I can’t find this damm thing.”
I rummaged through his briefcase until I found some likely-looking print-outs.
I gave him the address and well as approximate directions from the map provided. He hung up and I figured that was that.
Five minutes later the phone rang again.
“Could you describe again where this is supposed to be? Is there an actual address?”
I gave him the info he wanted and instructed him not to be shy and go find those folks and rub some consultant-elbows!
Five minutes later the phone rang again and he asked me to look for a contact phone number or something that would indicate where these people were. What the hell?, he said, It had never been so hard to find them in the past, it was like it was the wrong weekend or something!
I think you can guess where this is going.
At these words I looked at the print out, I mean really looked at it and read it.
“Oliver come home.”