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I was so frustrated I wanted to kill someone, or myself, on the elevator ride to the fifth floor. There was never going to be cell reception in the swanky, mirrored steel box. Still, I stared down my iPhone, willing the LTE to kick in, praying for half a bar of mercy.
Pressed all around me, the downtown literary types – who were probably going to the same cocktail party I was – tittered to each other. But I couldn’t draw my attention away from the phone. Why wouldn’t it connect to the network? The timing was awful. I was sure that in the 75 seconds I stood helplessly suspended in the air shaft, Nate would finally text me back.
Not that it really mattered. I knew that he would get in touch, eventually. We had been gchatting all day and had met for drinks three times in the past two weeks. Both of our offices were a block from The Modern and we’d become just as well acquainted with Akil the bartender’s gin martinis as we had with each other. But tonight I had to go to this book party in the Village, and Nate had a client dinner in Tribeca. We had gchatted about meeting up at the dimly lit, underground Australian bar on his block in Soho, later in the night. I loved the idea.
Because Nate had never kissed me, even as our knees and legs and arms and hands had touched and wandered as we sat closely on the couches at The Modern, even as his hands had found their way up my skirt in the cab rides we shared back home – first to his doorman building, then off on my way alone to the Brooklyn brownstone I shared with some girlfriends. I told myself each night that he hadn’t made a move out of respect. I was always a little tipsy during the cab rides; Akil’s martinis were strong.
And so it felt like tonight – on Nate’s block, near his apartment, without overt drunkenness – would be the night something would happen. He would finally kiss me. We could express all the tension, excitement, energy, longing that had been building up. I couldn’t wait. But he had to text me back! We’d been gchatting about the possibility of meeting up all day, but we hadn’t really made a plan.
The elevator dinged and came smoothly to stop at the fifth floor. I shouldered my way out and then paused at the black marble table in the hallway, where a fresh arrangement of lilacs and carnations looked cheerily out of place against the otherwise severely modern decor. I placed my iPhone down on the table and pressed the round navigation button gently, carefully. I wanted to be sending nothing but the most sensitive and caring vibes out into the universe.
I had no new text messages. Fuck Nate.
There was a huge silver mirror hanging over the table and I looked up above the perky flowers and studied my reflection, wondering if the look of frustration on my face could be construed – or slightly tweaked to be – an aura of serious, sophisticated nonchalance. With my black Elie Tahari ensemble, my high blond ponytail, and the delicate diamond necklace that rested at my neck – a gift from my ex-boyfriend that I wore as much out of defiance of our failed past as for its tiny glittering perfection – I felt like the near-embodiment of New York City semi-jaded chic.
My face was too mismatched to be beautiful. I had my mother’s round, jutting Irish chin and dimpled blue eyes, but instead of looking like a comely lass, I had my father’s lean, athletic body and wide Anglo-German cheekbones and forehead. My appearance was fresh, but too youthful, and bland – any more makeup and I’d look like I was playing dress up. The designer outfit was already feeling like a joke. I was from the suburbs and I’d started learning French at public school in seventh grade. No amount of high brow taste was going to make me truly sophisticated. Or give me cleavage.
I backed away from the mirror. I had learned during my five years in New York City since college that it was always a good idea to get out of your head and into action.
Just go do anything, I thought as I slipped my phone into my purse and headed down the hallway to the party.
thanks pareeerica for the photo!
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