Kyle had planned to show up a few minutes late, to try and preserve for just another minute or two that image that he had somewhere better to be, something more important to do, than be on time for a drink with Ephram. However, with the combination of his nerves, and his lack of nice clothes to sort through, Kyle was still outside the Hilton ten minutes early.
So, he waited. It was a long quarter of an hour, but he managed to wait until five after before walking in. No big deal.
Upstairs, he saw Ephram sitting at the bar, laughing with the bartender. Kyle walked up awkwardly while trying to give off an air of confidence once more. He did this all the time, in theory.
"Hey," Ephram said, sipping his beer straight from the bottle. "What'll it be?"
"Just a coke," Kyle replied. He wasn't fan of alcohol. None of it tasted very good.
After receiving his soda, Kyle followed Ephram to a table.
"I ordered some nachos, too," Kyle was informed with a smile. "So… what the hell have you been up to?"
"I just got in from Europe, yesterday, actually," Kyle nodded. He was still incredibly jetlagged; he hoped it would wear off in a couple of days. "I've been studying at the Scottish Royal Academy for the last few years."
He couldn't tell if Ephram was impressed or not. "No shit," he replied. "Why on earth would you come back here?"
Kyle laughed. "I'm doing a fellowship at Julliard for the rest of the year. Teaching," he added on as an afterthought, wondering what his old mentor would think about that.
"You ever struck me as a people-person." Ephram was shaking his head.
"Oh right, because you were?" Kyle shot back.
"I'm just surprised you want to follow in my footsteps in any way."
Kyle shrugged. He didn't know what to say, really. He didn't know why he wanted to teach others piano. He knew that he never gave any of his teachers, even at school, an ounce of respect.
The nachos were delivered to the table and Ephram instantly grabbed one. Kyle steeled himself for a moment before grabbing one.
"So how did you end up playing piano for a bunch of snobs then?" Kyle ventured after a minute.
Ephram sighed heavily, nibbling only slightly on a chip. He seemed to be thinking fairly hard about it.
"It's a long story," he said eventually.
Kyle shrugged. "You're covering the snacks, right?"
Ephram laughed this time. "I married Amy about three years ago. After we graduated college. I just got a general study degree, and she knew I missed piano. He finally convinced me that should go for Julliard again. So, we moved out here, and I started studying piano again. And it was amazing."
Here, Ephram paused to take a long swig from his beer, and he noticed the gold band on Ephram's left hand for the first time now. Kyle took some more nachos. These chips were so much better than those little lunch packs he often bought, though. It was hard not to enjoy them.
"But then Amy found out she was pregnant," Ephram continued with a sigh. "Amy stayed at her job until Adelia was born, but I knew right away I wouldn't be able to stay in school. Amy tried to protest, told me that she didn't mind going back to work once the baby was born. But I knew between child care, and tuition, even her job at Niemann Marcus wouldn't cover what we needed. So, I left, again."
Kyle really was glad for how his life was turning out after all. It seemed this man across from him just was not destined to complete Julliard, whereas Kyle had gotten that opportunity, even if it was hard sometimes. And now, he was getting to go back.
"Even with a general study degree, it was hard to find a job in this economy."
Kyle nodded. "I understand that," he put in. "I'm surprised Julliard wanted me back, even if they are giving me crap wages while I'm just a teaching assistant."
"Yeah well, that's how I ended up here," Ephram finished. "But our daughter really is beautiful. And I don't regret anything. I just wish I had gotten a better job. It's tight sometimes, but I don't want Amy to go back to work until Adelia is a year old, and even then, I just don't think I'll ever finish Julliard."
"It's really not all it's cracked up to be," Kyle said, trying to reassure Ephram, for some reason he couldn't understand. "So I'm musically educated. I get to spend the rest of my life working with mouthy little bastards who are only in school as an obligation, and don't think they can learn anything from me."
"When did you get so insightful about your younger self?" Ephram asked.
"I wasn't talking about me at all," Kyle insisted with a smile. "There really was nothing to learn from anyone else. One of my teachers even admitted she could teach me no more."
"Sure," Ephram said doubtfully. "Another soda?"
Kyle shook his head. "I'll pass. I actually have to get up early tomorrow. First day. But we should hang out again sometime. On a weekend. I can… meet Amy. I always heard a lot about her when you were tutoring me. I remember that one time you showed up at my school, and pointed out the popular girl that reminded you of her. And I know you were a bigger loser than I was… but you said you'd become her friend anyway."
"You couldn't help but add that part in, could you?" Ephram asked, a small smile playing on his features again. "I'll… get in touch. Invite you to dinner. Although Amy's not much of a cook."
"Not much is still more than me," Kyle admitted. "I don't have a number here yet. But you can call the conservatory. I'd rather you not see where I live."
"Worse than a fifth-floor walkup in some dingy building near the industrial sector and no Laundromat?" Ephram asked.
"Well… no," Kyle said. His place was embarrassing, but it wasn't bad. Not entirely. "But still. It's… girly, I guess is the best word for it. And I've only been there one night but, well, my roommate and his girlfriend have really loud sex. Fairly regularly. Three times in the last twenty-four hours, actually."
Ephram nodded knowingly. "Fair enough, I suppose." He ate the last nacho from the tray. "I'll see you soon then."
"Yes," Kyle agreed, standing up. "Thanks for the chips."
Kyle headed back down the stairs and out of the hotel. It was summer, so therefore still light out, and he decided to walk the few miles back to his new home. That hadn't been too bad; actually, Kyle had a hard time remembering why he'd always been at odds with Ephram, and found himself feeling sorry for him instead.