I needed something. I needed a lot of things.
More cable channels.
But with all that necessity, what I needed the most was a break. A break from work. A break from the incessant pace of the city. I needed a vacation. You know, one of those things that normal people make time for? They usually call up an agency who sends them to some tropical paradise where they drink exotic beverages by the beach all day and have unprotected sex with other sunburned, drunk people.
That would be sweet.
But it wasn't an option. I was too busy with all the things that I needed a break from in the first place. It was a vicious cycle that I had somehow volunteered myself for despite knowing I needed stasis. A moment of my own divine perfection in an otherwise imperfect world could've done the trick. But as I said…
Not an option.
I mean, don't get me wrong. There was a large part of me—or at least an important part—that was happy. I was in love. Great job. Exciting goldfish. Beautiful loft. I just didn't feel like I had the time to enjoy the benefits of my toiling. It was disheartening. It was frustrating. But mostly, it was reality. And I had learned many years ago that life was just that.
Whether it was going good or bad, just as long as it was going then you had to work for what you ultimately wanted.
I was a hard worker. If I wanted something, you see, I went for it like an STD on a co-ed. I'd always been that way. I graduated from college magna cum laude and not to mention with my virginity in tact. No eating disorders. No pregnancy scares. No hazing horror stories. Just an honors cord as I walked across the stage in front of my crying, applauding parents.
I got my masters in interior design and from there—the dream job. Gensler Architects. I was a consultant. I made more money than I should, but not enough to carry a light work load. That was for the big guys. And while I did have plans of getting there one day…it was simply not that day.
With that job went the virginity. I almost immediately started dating a co-worker who worked almost as hard as I did. Carmen Morales. She was fiercely determined, fiercely attractive, and she could do fiercely difficult algebra in her head—a preferable if not necessary ability. And as soon as the laws changed, she got down on one knee and asked me to marry her.
I was ecstatic. I had been planning my perfect wedding all my life. I'm sure at six months-old I was flipping through Bride magazine and doggy-earing all the best pages. At least that's what I had been doing as of late. In fact, it was what I was doing when my best friend called to invite me on the trip that would ultimately change my life.
"Hello?" I answered, glad to have the distraction. If no one's ever told you, it's intense work picking out the perfect wedding dress. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
"Chelsea, hey. Why are you so excited? Did someone die?"
"Oh my God. No."
"Oh," I said with a shrug she couldn't see.
"Listen, I have incredible news for you."
"Don't be a cynical bitch, Spencer. I know you, ok? And right now you're making that face you make. You know the one…where you're like, daring someone to impress you?"
I looked at my reflection in the mirror directly across from my expensive leather couch. She knows me too well it seems.
"I'm not making a face," I lie.
"Shutup. You are. Anyway, that's not important right now. The important thing is you and I are taking this weekend and going to L.A."
"You know I can't."
"Before you decide what you can and cannot do, hear me out."
"Ok, I'm listening. But the answer will always be the same. Now…go ahead."
"Ok. That friend I've been telling you about who lives in L.A. wants me to housesit for him…"
"That guy with the seven toes?"
"Yeah, anyway, he lives in this amazing house on the beach. Like, this super sweet place that overlooks…"
"Don't care. Can't go."
"Why the fuck not?"
"I have wedding stuff to do with Carmen. We're choosing the menu for the reception on Saturday. It's important."
"That's stupid. You should come with me and get some sun. At least that way you'll look hot at your dumb wedding."
"Not everyone's a slut, Chelsea. Some of us like the idea of getting married and settling down."
"I'm not a slut. I just sleep with a lot of people."
"Give it some thought, Spence. Seriously. It would do you some good to get away for a couple days."
"I know, but I don't have time for things that are good for me right now. I have a wedding to plan."
"That sounds bad, but you know what I mean."
"Fine, fine. I get it. But I'm still going to call you tomorrow just to see if you've changed your mind."
"You know I never change my mind."
"There's a first time for everything."
I was in the bath when Carmen arrived. She used the key I gave her the night she proposed. She popped the question at IKEA. She was just romantic that way.
"Spencer!" I heard her yell from the kitchen.
"I'm in the bath!"
"I'm in the bath!" I screamed, satisfied when I heard her footsteps making their way towards the bathroom.
She walked in wearing a dark blue Black Label Armani suit. I know because I bought it for her on our one-year anniversary. She bought be all new state-of-the-art kitchen appliances. We were both pleased.
"Are you coming in?" I asked, attempting a seductive tone.
She paused for a second before striding over. But she didn't undress. And in the fleeting candle light I could see that she wasn't in the mood for a mutual hygienic experience.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"We have to talk."
Most people would be scared of a statement like that. But not me. Oh no. I had never been broken up with, fired, or grounded. So that sentence carried very little weight to a girl like me.
"Sure. Go for it," I replied, beaming at her.
Ever heard of happiness by association?
"I'm so sick of this," she said, sighing deeply, "I'm so tired of us."
"I'm tired of being with you."
"I want to break up."
"Spencer! I know you're hearing me!" she shouted, obviously annoyed.
"We're engaged," I said, refusing to panic. This was a misunderstanding. I mean, my fiancé never broke up with me in a bath tub in my childhood fantasy of my happily ever after. Therefore, this was absolutely not happening. No way.
"I know. We have to call it off."
"I have two-hundred people coming from Bumfuck, Ohio!" I screamed, splashing the water with my fists, "I have a caterer and a priest and a goddamn children's choir!"
She looked scared now, but persisted, "I understand. But all these ridiculous plans, Spencer…they're a really big part of why this can't work."
"We can't work because I booked a children's choir? Who do you want, Carmen? The cast of 'Rent?' The Rolling Stones? The fucking Teletubbies? Who do you want? Who the fuck do I have to call to get you to marry me?"
"You don't get it."
"I don't want to live my life on Spencer Carlin's schedule. I don't want to be just another one of your plans. I want to be in love with someone who doesn't just think of me as a logical next step in their adulthood."
"Is this some kind of strange prank?"
"I don't believe you."
"I'm leaving. Do you want your key back?"
"You're not leaving me," I said, emerging from the tub so I could get a good look at her face, "I'm leaving you!"
"You're not seriously doing this," she replied, shaking her head.
"Oh yes I am! You know what, Carmen? I'm thrilled that this is happening. I really am. I feel like a twenty-million pound weight has just been lifted from my life. This is fucking beautiful!"
"I mean, let's face it. I'm too good for you. I'm more successful, I have better abs, I had a better college GPA, I'm amazing at Sudoku…"
"Thanks for making this so easy, Spencer," Carmen said, walking out of the bathroom and towards the front door.
"I make better margaritas than you do, I have better clothes, my laundry detergent smells better…"
I followed her all the way through the living room, talking mostly to her back.
"Bye," she said, before slamming the door, leaving me alone in my over-sized loft.
I had never had to confront heartache or disappointment, but I had the feeling a person's not supposed to do it sober—or without their insane best friends.
I picked up my phone from the couch and dialed Chelsea's number.
"What's up?" she asked immediately.
"I'm coming with you."
"I thought you said you wouldn't change your mind," Chelsea said with a surprised laugh.
"There's a first time for everything."