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I wish I could tell you this has been a great year. I wish I could tell you I'm living on New York's upper West side with apartment windows facing Central Park and my paintings adorning the walls of my wealthy neighbors. I wish I could tell you I was even living in New York City, not a five story walk-up in Brooklyn, where I was stupid enough to have said okay to space on the top floor because it was less expensive while I tried not to think just what that meant at age forty-one. I wish I could tell you that living the Zen life without an elevator, a washer/dryer in my unit, and roaches so huge I've named some of them has finally given me inner peace.
The truth is I'm so miserable there are times I think I never should have moved here at all. I'm a complete mess--so much so that it seems like I can't even make a rational decisions these days. You want to talk shaky? I can't even decide what to have for dinner tonight though at this point I'm so hungry I'd settle for bread and butter. If I had bread and butter that is. But that would involve walking down those five flights of stairs and then three blocks to the alleged convenience store not to mention the trip home and back up the steps again. I've already done that twice in the past two hours doing laundry. I was so desperate for clean clothing and so damn afraid to hang out in the scary basement laundry room that I threw the whites in with the darks, overloaded the machine, and then had to feed the dryer $17.00 in quarters before the whole mess worked its way out of a damp tangled blob.
I'm seriously considering disposable underwear.
Anyway, at the moment I'm exhausted, hungry, and wondering how I'm ever going to getthe inspiration to paint again. I've finished a grand total of two oils over the course of twelve months, a paltry portion of what I'll need to present to a gallery owner in hopes of a show. I look over at my brushes, crying out to me as they sadly marinate in an empty mayonnaise jar of turpentine. This, of course, is their death knell but I'm too tired to care, though not too tired to feel guilty. But just as I'm about to sink down on my sofa in total despair, the telephone rings and I reach over and grab it.
It's Rob! The caller ID thing is telling me it's Rob! Rob! My very best friend in the world, and, unfortunately, also my employer. I say unfortunately because I wish he were more than a friend. To say that I am secretly head over heels over this man is putting it mildly.
"Elizabeth? Marianne here. You free?"
Bleh. Marianne. Rob's perfect trophy girlfriend. The other reason he's just a pal. She's using his private office phone. Lucky me. Okay. Deep breath. Be nice. You need some good karma, Elizabeth. Start with Marianne.
"Yeah, I was just hanging out here, contemplating dinner. What's up?"
"Well, I can take care of your food problem," she says. Her voice sets my teeth on edge and my stomach sinks at what's probably coming next.
"Two girls called in sick and Rob really needs you back here at the restaurant--we're booked solid through 9:00 p.m."
"But I worked the lunch shift practically by myself and..."
"I know, Elizabeth. But we're really short-handed and Rob is counting on you. How fast can you get here? We need you like now!"
Why don't you put on a freaking apron, Your Highness? But of course I don't say this because she has said the magic words and she knows it. Rob is counting on me. Woo hoo. I will put on my wings and fly like a warped fairy princess down the five flights of steps and hop the subway back to Nana's in the East Village so that I can sling plates of high priced comfort food to weary New York yuppies.
And to think that just a year ago, I was one of them, eating $25.00 meatloaf with a $10.00 side of mashed potatoes and bringing home the leftovers for the dog. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
I walk into the bathroom to wash my face and get ready but am interrupted when the phone rings again. Oh please let it be the restaurant, telling me they don't need me after all ... maybe the other waitresses decided to show up.
I look at the caller I.D. and cringe. Good lord, it's the New York branch of the law firm where I spent the most miserable year of my life last year as a corporate attorney in their Philadelphia office. What could they possibly want from me? I've been out of that hell hole for a year, and I really never had anything to do with the New York firm so I can't be in trouble for anything, can I?
Oh god. Someone is suing them for malpractice and it's a file I worked on so I have to come in and testify.
No, no, I'm the one being sued for malpractice. That's what it's got to be. That's why the phone call and nothing as impersonal as an e-mail I might possibly ignore.
My hand freezes on the receiver as the phone rings four, five times, and finally, fear and curiosity get the better of me and I pick up just before the answering machine is about to kick in.
"Hello?" My voice cracks like a scared little kid.
"Superstar? Is that you?" The sexy British accent on the other end of the line is so not what I was expecting I almost fall over.
"Huh?" is what I reply, even though I know the identity of my caller for sure and I'm too shocked to think straight.
"Elizabeth? C'mon Superstar, you can't hide from me. I recognize that sexy voice!"