Pam Beesly was sitting in her new apartment, staring at phone on her one table in front of the wall of her living room. In her ideal world, the table would have been draped with the fancy cloth tablerunner her grandmother had knitted and the wall would have been hung with three particular pieces of art (one hers, one a gift from her parents on her high school graduation, one bought in a fit of rapture at the Met on a trip to NYC three years ago) that she thought really went well together. But all of that art was in boxes somewhere in the room, and she didn’t have the energy to find them, let alone nails or a hammer. Especially since she was pretty sure she didn’t own a hammer.
Of course, in her ideal world, she wouldn’t be in this apartment at all.
She wasn’t sure where she would be, but it wasn’t here.
It was hard not to fall back into old ways of thinking and feeling. Hard not to think “in my ideal world, I’d be in a hotel room right now, with Roy, for our wedding night.” Hard not to think “I’d be married.” But recent events had proved to her that that’s wasn’t her ideal world either. She’d looked down that path and it was very normal, very everyday, but definitely not very ideal.
So she needed a new ideal, but she was pretty sure this wasn’t it. Whatever ideal was, it wasn’t an empty apartment and the process of unpacking. It wasn’t breaking the heart of a man she’d spent ten years with and spending money hand over fist to not get married (seriously; she’d forked over almost as much money as she’d budgeted for the wedding and they hadn’t even gotten married).
She sighed. In all honesty, for her, “ideal” right now meant Jim Halpert. She was still pissed at him for turning her life upside down—declaring his love, kissing her, making her feel things (or more accurately realize she had been feeling them for some time now)—and then running away. Not giving her a week—a day—an hour—a minute to catch her breath, think, do something more than panic and react. When she’d come back to work that following Monday, after a hard, hard weekend working through her own and Roy’s emotions, to an empty desk and the news that Jim had arranged a transfer to the Stamford office, she’d been torn apart by two conflicting emotions: anger that he’d done this huge thing to her and just…left, and a sucking pit of sadness and despair.
Neither of those emotions had stopped her from breaking it off with Roy, cancelling the wedding, and moving into this little apartment on her own. It had helped at first that she had leaned into the anger for a while; leaned into feeling hurt and mad that he had fled. This had kept the sucking despair at bay. But she’d realized as she reorganized her life that she understood his choice a little more. She couldn’t bear to see Roy anymore; it was hard to spend even an hour at lunch around him (and he had been hanging out up in the office at lunch at lot more since the breakup—where was that when they were together, huh?). She couldn’t imagine how much worse it would be to have been in Jim’s situation; to be spending every day around someone whose very presence reminded him of the love he’d had and the life he’d wanted to have, and of the fact he couldn’t and didn’t have it. Of course, the massive irony was that he could have had it. She loved him. Was in love with him. But he couldn’t have known she would come to that point. She realized she’d given him no indication she would. She cringed now to remember herself telling him he had “misinterpreted their friendship.” Undermining his sense not just of her, but of his own emotions. So she could understand why he left.
It still hurt, though.
And when it hurt it opened up the other side of her emotions: the despair. If he ran away…would he come back? Did he still love her? Now that she was ready to love him, he wasn’t there to be loved. And just like he couldn’t trust her to have come in on Monday and loved him (and to be honest, she wasn’t ready to that Monday—but it did come, and quickly), she couldn’t trust him to come back and still love her. Or so the despair told her at least.
The despair made it very hard to pick up the phone and call him—especially since he was probably in Australia right now, and she was pretty sure the cell phones were different out there—unless he had cancelled the trip when he cancelled everything else and ran to Stamford. After all, she was pretty sure he’d booked that trip just to miss her wedding, no matter that he’d denied it when she’d asked. That was back before that searing moment of truth, back when they were each trying to hide their emotions from each other—some of them more intentionally, more consciously, and some of them more effectively, but both hiding. So maybe after that moment he hadn’t felt the need to go to Australia. Maybe Connecticut was far enough.
But she didn’t know, because despair made it impossible to pick up the phone and find out.
She had been staring at the phone for what felt like the best (or more accurately, worst) part of a day, but was…actually, it was most of the day. It was Saturday, her not-happening-wedding day, and she had the next two weeks off for her not-happening-honeymoon, and she’d had nothing to do but stare at the phone. She’d quietly refused to have her mother—her sister—her father—anyone with her that day, telling them (lying to them) that them being there would have made her remember too much that everyone should have been there, remember what day it was supposed to be. She’d said it would be harder with them there.
What she really meant was that she’d hoped she’d finally build up the courage to call Jim’s phone, and she didn’t want any of them there to stop her.
Of course, she was doing a great job of that herself.
As she stared, the phone rang.
She picked it up in a daze.
“Hello! Is that…Pam Anderson?”
Oh great, she thought. My first call here, and it’s a telemarketer who didn’t get the memo about my cancelled wedding. While she was thinking, her brain went into autopilot and she responded, even though she hadn’t meant to.
“This is Pam Beesly.”
“Oh thank god.” Not a telemarketer then, unless their scripts had gotten really advanced. “I’ve been trying to reach you for two days, and I know it’s your wedding day, and I’m so sorry, but I just…I’m hoping…” Pam felt in her pocket, pulled out her cell phone, and saw that it was dead. The charger was in a box too, she realized, and she had no idea when it had run out. She heard the voice on the other end finally run down, like the speaker didn’t know what to say next.
“Um…who is this?” she mumbled while looking at the phone in her hand.
“Oh! Um, my name is Larissa Halpert. Jim’s sister? I just…I’m with him here at Geisinger Hospital, and I’m so sorry to interrupt your wedding day but…I need your help.”