Author's Chapter Notes:
This is a conglomeration of a few things I had started, but couldn't finish. So if it feels a little disjointed, that's why. I also wasn't sure how to end it, so it just sort of...ends. Anyway, read on. Hopefully you'll like it more than I do.
My head spins on its own when I wake up. My body has taken it upon itself to give me that maddening dizzy feeling that the sound of your voice used to give me. As if it needs to get used to being able to stand up straight. As if it needs to gradually ease itself back to the way it was before you.
I feel homesick for the first week and hate the color of my new walls. I hate the street signs and the front door and the way it smells outside and how everything is so different. So I throw up before work and as my right hand is resting on the cool white porcelain of my new toilet (which I also hate), I think of your face that last time I saw it.
But eventually, I get used to the color of my walls and the street signs and how there’s nothing in this city that reminds me of you. (Before, I would stretch to connect things here to you, as if that would help at all.)
I brought a picture of you with me when I moved. From an office outing at some point in time when your hair was longer and curlier than it is now. Your smile is shy and you’re avoiding the camera. I can’t decide if I want it at home or on my desk so it mostly stays in my wallet. Andy sees it and asks who it is. I tell him it’s my sister and he believes me.
Mark calls to say that he misses me. My parents call to say that they miss me. Michael calls and begs me to come back. Kelly calls and goes on about something Ryan did and then as an afterthought says that she misses me. Dwight even calls just to boast about how much more productive he is now that I’m gone.
I wait for you to call even though I know it isn’t likely to happen.
I imagine your wedding was beautiful and that you cried during your vows. I imagine that you and Roy’s first dance was a good moment for you and you were happier than you’ve been in a long time. I imagine that your new life is better and that you don’t miss me really at all.
I feel different here so for three days I find myself staring at Karen’s legs whenever she walks by my desk.
Then I hear that you didn’t get married after all. That you're living alone in an apartment somewhere and taking art classes. I hear this from Michael during one of his weekly calls.
I try not to be angry with you for not telling me, but it feels like something I deserve after everything.
I ask Karen out to dinner the Friday after I find out. She gives me this look and walks away without saying a word. So instead, I sit at home and wonder what Friday’s are like for you now. I wonder if you just sit in your living room and watch TV alone. Or if you have friends that you go out with. Or if you’re in an art class right now, charcoal on your fingertips.
I wonder what would happen if I called you.
The Stamford office is completely different from the Scranton office. Our receptionist is out in the main hallway and I’m not even sure what she really looks like because it seems like there’s always someone else there when I walk in every morning. There isn’t that quiet murmur of chatter here. The desks all face the same way. I get the feeling nobody really knows anybody else here.
Eventually Karen gives in and I take her out to dinner. I don’t really know any restaurants in this city so I let her pick one. It’s expensive and I’m pretty sure she picked it because of that. Everything comes with weird sauces so I just order the cheapest thing on the menu and hardly eat any of it.
I learn things about her, but I don’t file them away like I did with you. I won’t remember what color nail polish she always wore when she was fifteen. (You wore that light, delicate shade of pink. You brought in a bottle to show me one day. Like you knew it would make me happy in such a strange and wonderful way to see the color your nails were before you were with Roy, before you-)
And when I kiss her outside her apartment building that night, I feel something tighten in my throat so I kiss her even harder. Her hands push at me like I’m scaring her and I apologize and leave.
On the way home, I see your face whenever I look up in the rearview mirror.
During another one of Michael’s calls (this one came while I was at home and I don’t remember ever giving him my cell phone number), he mentions in a sad voice that you’re repainting your new apartment all alone tonight.
I imagine you carefully lining up paint cans filled with soft lavender paint. I imagine you arranging the pan and roller neatly next to the line of cans and then changing into clothes made for painting. Old, ratty jeans and a shirt that you haven’t worn in years and is really too small, but it’s the only thing you have that you’re willing to get paint on.
And the image of you standing in the middle of the room, smiling to yourself when you’re done makes me miss you so I tell Michael I have to go and quickly hang up.
On a Wednesday, I’m rifling through my pretty much empty refrigerator, looking for dinner. I settle on some old Chinese food and then my phone rings. I groan, because I’m so sure that it’s Michael.
It isn’t. It’s you and when I hear your voice, I drop the container that was in my hands. Rice goes all over the linoleum floor of the kitchen.
You say, “Hi,” in a small voice.
Rice is stuck to the bottoms of my feet as I blindly step through it and make my way into the living room. I’m pressing the phone hard against my ear as if you’re going to disappear.
“I guess you heard about…”
“I should’ve told you. I’m sorry. I was just-”
“Don’t. It’s okay.”
Maybe it isn’t, but I want to hear you talk about other things right now. So I ask about the art classes and your apartment and just listen to your voice, because it makes me feel at home. Your voice sounds lighter than I think I’ve ever heard it as you tell me all about the illustration class you’re taking and the book you’re planning for your final project.
I tell you about what Dunder Mifflin is like here. I tell you about the people in the office, leaving out the failed date with Karen. I tell you how everything about this office is different in a way I thought I could get used to, but I just can’t. I tell you that I miss Scranton and that I miss you.
You say, “I miss you, too, Big Tuna,” and laugh.
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