Chapter 5: Always Go Back to Red
It's been a long day. And right now this couch, my ivory couch with the recliners, feel like paradise. I have Emma's Back to School night later on and I'm already exhausted. Today I've been in Philadelphia since early morning, around 7, even had to have Rayanne take Emma to school. It's been constant editing along with my own book.
No, my own novel.
I have to smile thinking just how far I am getting. Me, an author! Sure nothing has been set in stone yet but I'm working on my stories getting published. God, that's crazy.
But right now I just need sleep. A little nap. To finally calm my nerves and in some much need beauty sleep. Slower breaths, good sign, almost asleep...
"Angela!" is shrieked throughout the apartment along with my front door slamming as Rayanne rushes in. It's times like these I wonder why I ever gave her a key.
"Angela! I have major news, like this effects you. Deeply," she said, out of breath as she sat on my brown coffee table that was set up in front of the couch.
With my eyes still closed I replied, "What is it?"
"Jordan Catalano is Emma's english teacher."
"What!" I sprung up from the couch as I sat up and looked at Rayanne. From her serious face I knew she wasn't joking.
"Yes. I dropped off some food for her like thirty minutes ago and I saw him. On the steps of the school and I asked her who is that and he is Mr. C aka Mr. Catalano, her english teacher. And no this is not some other Jordan Catalano because she even said that he told her he used to go to school at Liberty High," she told me as I was about to object.
"Oh lord," I mumbled as I leaned back into my sofa.
"How do you not know this already? This is her english teacher and she's always blabbing on and on about his class!"
I sighed, "Well I don't know. It was always Mr. C and I've never heard her say his full name. I'm exhausted as it is, now I have to deal with this."
I may be exaggerating. But Jordan Catalano was that boyfriend, that is on the list with those other boyfriends that knew you, inside and out. There was him, then Alexander Crop during my sophomore year until the second semester of my junior year at NYU. When I went back to graduate school I met Samuel Thornton who I dated for a year. Then finally during my senior year I met Tom, and from there the list stopped. There was dating in between but those were the ones I gave my all too. And Jordan Catalano, he had everything.
Yes, I had sex with Jordan Catalano when I was seventeen. That's what I meant by everything. He was my first real deep relationship. The one with love, and tears, and passion and fights and yes lust. It was during the time we were officially on. Had been going strong for a long time. My parents were away, Danielle was on her school camping trip so it left me alone in my house; that is until he came over and stayed the whole weekend.
There is no way I would ever compare what I had with him, with what I had with Tom. Tom was my life, my love, my all. And if I would to meet Tom in the future if we had never married, I would have the same reaction I am having now.
I felt Rayanne sit next to me and mimicked the way I was sitting, "Rayanne, am I freaking out for no reason?"
"No your not. Because when you see him you are gonna have the most awkward conversation with him. And it doesn't help that Catalano is like mute at times and then your probably going to be rambling on and on," she said and began to laugh.
I scoffed at her, "Rayanne! This is not the time to laugh! And I don't ramble okay, I just fill in the blanks when there is no one talking because most likely he's going to be giving me one word answers and nods and just going to stand there and like change the subject like he always did and then leave me there standing completely, completely..."
I never did finish my sentence as Rayanne began to laugh even harder and I couldn't help but join in because she was right. Everything she described was going to happen, I mean I was already rambling.
"Chase, you just got to stay calm and talk to him like he is your daughter's teacher not someone who has seen you naked," she managed to get out as she once began to laugh which I did as well.
I finally calmed down and wiped away tears the formed from laughing so hard, "I can do this. Just be cool and not freak."
"Yes my Angelique, you can do this," she encouraged me as she grasped my head and kissed my forehead. "Is that a white hair I see!"
I felt a tug at my roots as she pulled out a stand of my hair, "Ow! Rayanne!"
"Oh don't be a baby! Look at this! Angela you cannot meet an ex-boyfriend with white hairs!" she exclaimed as she showed me the white hair that had formed in my head. "I have a brilliant idea!
"Ok see now you are putting to much thought into meeting him; and my hair is fine, don't freak me out!" I told her.
Rayanne looked at me and I saw the 15 year-old girl again. The one whose hair went everywhere as she fixed it up with braids and scrunchies and lord knows what else. But she looked me in the eye and smiled and I couldn't help but smile back.
"Even if you were not going to see Catalano we still gotta do something about this hair! Angela, your grey hairs, a sign of oldness," she giggled, "is holding you back!"
"Why do I feel 15 again?" I asked as I couldn't hold back the huge smile I know possessed on my face.
"Come on! Let's go buy the dye before it gets late!" she exclaimed as she jumped up and ran to the door, with me following her, not hesitating at all.
"Rayanne! The water is cold now!" I shouted at her after she tried to change the temperature of the water. My head was under the faucet as my body was bent over my bathtub. Through my squinted eyes, I could see small streams of the dye swirl down into the drain. Even though my hair was wet, the light from my bathroom ceiling could show me the strands of red hair that now replaced my brown (and greying) hair.
"Whoops," she joked as she turned it off and handed me a towel. "Here you go. Now blow dry!"
I dried my hair at the tips with the towel then got out my blow dryer. From the corner of my eye I could see Rayanne animately talking on the phone.
"Ricky! Guess what!" she practically screamed into the the small device. "Angela dyed her hair! Yes, red again!"
"It's not red, it's Summer Berry!" I yelled out as I continued to fully dry my hair.
"Summer Berry! No not Crimson Glow; I think they discontinued it," Rayanne laughed. "Hold on let me put you on speaker."
"Angela did you hit a midlife crisis? You always do red when something's up,"Ricky asked.
I chuckled, "No Ricky just a lot of white hairs."
"And Jordan Catalano!" Rayanne exclaimed.
"What!" Ricky exclaimed. "Are you going on a date with Jordan Catalano?"
"Are you gonna sleep with him?"
"Again? Angela how did this happen? When did it happen?"
"Ok Ricky stop!" I looked over at Rayanne who was laughing and had sat down on the tub to control herself. "You are not helping Rayanne!
And Ricky no I am not going on a date with Jordan Catalano nor am I going to sleep with him. I dyed my hair cause I had white hairs it just so happened that I chose a red."
"So why was Jordan Catalano brought up?" he asked.
"Because he is Emma's english teacher and tonight is Back to School night!" Rayanne piped in.
"Yes he is Emma's teacher and yes I am going to have to see him and speak to him after many years; so please I'm already nervous as it is don't make it worse," I admitted to them.
"Angela, sweetie, this is gonna end up with you sleeping with him," Ricky chuckled over the phone which caused Rayanne to start laughing again and Ricky joining in.
"I'm walking away now," I muttered as I glared at Rayanne. I continued to my room to get dressed and recited in my mind:
I will not sleep with Jordan Catalano. I will not sleep with Jordan Catalano.
"I will not sleep with Jordan Catalano," I told myself as I looked at my reflection in my mirror.
"You sure about that?" Rayanne asked as she walked over to my bed and sat down.
"No I'm not. I don't even know why that thought is running through my mind. All he is going to be to me is my daughter's teacher," I turned to look at her.
"Angela," she sighed and walked towards me, "You do not have to feel guilty about thinking that there could be a possibility of you sleeping with someone; even dating someone."
"There is just to much pressure on this right now. This whole situation has been blown out of proportion," I told her.
"I'm sorry about the teasing but I am here reminding you that it's okay if you feel this way. And not just because it's Jordan Catalano but it could be with any guy. It's been eight years and I know you have moved on but sometimes you need to tell yourself that. He would want you to be happy," she finished as she rubbed my arm soothingly.
"I know," I whispered and gave her a small smile.
"Alright then. Now you need to get dressed cause going in this stained shirt is so not gonna impress your ex-boyfriend," she smiled at me as she went into my closet and pulled out some clothes for me.
I have dated before. After Tom's death. It was two dates and I slept with him. I left that night crying because I had felt so guilty. Emma was staying with my parents for the night so I went to Rayanne who told me over and over that I had done nothing wrong. It's been difficult for me to date and it was such a rare occurrence when I announced if I was going out with someone.
"Ok we need something that will make your new fabulous hair pop!" Rayanne smiled as she took out an outfit for me. "Now I was trying to find something plaid but no luck; so I went with the chic white sleeveless blouse with the not so obnoxious ruffles going down the middle and black pants, not to tight but honey you will have an existing butt tonight!"
I stood in front of the mirror as she held the clothes in front of me. "Thank you Rayanne."
she smiled at me and winked, "No problemo Angelique. Now get a move on."
The horn on my car made me jump as my forehead accidentally hit it. I was in my car sitting in the parking lot of the school, going on ten minutes trying to calm myself down. I had finally left the apartment with Rayanne forcing me into my car.
I can do this.
"You can do this," I whisper to myself as I let out a long breath, grab my coat and purse. "Angela, you are not fifteen you are a grown woman. You have seen this man naked, he cannot make you feel naked. Oh nakedness..."
"Hey there Angela! How you doing?"
I look to my as I come out of my car and see Diane and Kevin Reid, fellow parents. "Hey Diane, Kevin. I'm doing good," I smile as I walk with them into the school.
Oh please god, don't tell me they heard me say naked. As I walk into the gym and hand my coat into the coat check I can't help but reminisce. Nothing has changed and I can't help but smile. For some reason I feel ready.
I walk straight to his room. Skip the other classes I know would be better to visit first but I can't back down now. Yes, I once loved this man. A lot. To the point where it consumed me but I consumed him just as much. I have the power too.
I don't even know how I ended up outside of his class until I hear Emma call me. I try to ignore the look she gives me as I give her a kiss on the forehead.
"It's not red, it's Summer Berry," I tell her, happy she doesn't use Crimson glow.
This is it. I'm about to face Jordan Catalano after years of not seeing him. My first love. And even though I haven't turned around to see him, my stomach is already feeling funny.
Me and Emma both turn around and I say hi to him; but it comes out as a whisper. He looks the same; he's aged but he looks the same. I try to take him in as fast as I can and I feel myself push my hair behind my ear. I desperately want to say something witty because it just seems appropriate, for some reason. But all I can do is cough this horrible dry cough. Right then I know I have revealed just how nervous I am.
"Sorry, dry throat."
"Hi Chase," he smiles and I smile back.
"Um mom," Emma finally speaks. "This is Mr. Catalano, my english teacher; Mr. C, this is my mom, Angela Chase, but I've kinda guessed that there doesn't need to be an introduction."
She's to smart for her own good and I'm already preparing myself for her interrogation later. We fall silent again and I know I should break the silence. "Nice classroom. Its, um, neat. I mean not the neat where it's cool but I mean neat, very organized," I stupidly tell him.
"I'm gonna go re-stock the refreshments,"Emma says as she quickly leaves and I don't blame her.
"Ok honey. That's my daughter," I tell him with a chuckle.
He laughs as he puts his hands into the pockets of his jeans, and looks down at his feet. "So, who would have thought that this would ever happen?" he says as he looks up again at me.
"Certainly not me. Rayanne actually told me you were Emma's teacher," I tell him as I try not to break eye contact.
"Ah, so that was Rayanne. I don't know how I didn't figure it our sooner. She looks like you. She's a great kid by the way; intelligent," he compliments.
"Well she is my kid," I laugh. "So, Jordan, I mean Mr. Catalano, tell me about your class?" I ask him and gesture around the room.
He gives me a small laugh and shakes his head a bit and begins to explain the structure of how he conducts his lessons. He sounds to passionate and smart as he explains everything. Not many people knew just how wonderful he was with words.
"How are you Chase?"
He brings me out of my thoughts as he faces me again. "I'm good. Working and mothering but no complaints."
"I'm happy to hear that," He's interrupted as one of the students calls his name. "Duty calls. But take a look around, one of Emma's essays is up, if you have any questions feel free to ask, me or one of the kids."
"Ok," I tell him as he begins to walk away.
I made it through my encounter with Jordan Catalano. A few awkward pauses here and there but I made it. And now I had to get out.
"Hey Em's, I'm going to finish my rounds meet you back in the gym alright," I tell her when I find her talking to a group of parents.
"Sure thing mom."
I glance around the room once again, my eyes landing on Jordan's back as he concentrates one of his student's parents who are smiling widely to him. He has won everyone over; just like he always did. Not everyone used to approve of him but he always intrigued people. From the way he leaned to the way he would put a cigarette to his mouth, he always drew attention.
I can't help but smile as I begin to leave the room but his voice interrupts me.
I can't find my voice as he comes to stand in front of me.
He gives me one of his infamous Jordan Catalano grins. The ones the would only be shown to me as we would sit in his car, laying some where together and I push my hair behind my ears again.
"Don't be a stranger Red."
It sends a shiver down my spine. No one knows just how intimate of a word it is to me. To us. It was the cheesiest nickname someone could ever give someone but that's what he called me. Only when it was just me and him. No one knows; not even Rayanne. No one knows he would sweetly call me that when we were together as he would tuck strands of my hair back with his gentle rough hands right before he would kiss me.
Compose yourself Angela.
I try to conjure up the most platonic smile I can, "Ditto Mr. C."
He laughs as he gives me a small wave and turns around. I watch him walk away and quickly leave. Our little exchange literally happened in about six seconds but it felt like forever.
"Night sweetie," I tell Emma as she gives me a peck on the cheek before she goes to her room. I am so thankful that she is exhausted because my mind still feels fuzzy from seeing Jordan. I know it's going to be brought up but I'm glad it's not tonight.
I don't know what possesses me but I find my self connecting my ipod my stereo and turning the volume down to not wake Emma up. I find the song.
"...Sheets of empty canvas..."
I softly sing along as I look myself in the mirror. I am transported back into my old room, and I'm wearing a flannel oversized shirt that covers the black tee underneath and I'm still singing.
I am fifteen again. Sixteen. Seventeen.
With red hair again.
And I'm loving every second of it.
NOTE: It's been years; it feels like years. Excuse the long wait. Don't know when I will update again. Soon hopefully.