Third installment in the Enchanting Emil series!
“What am I going to do?” I wailed.
I told Nadia about being fired unexpectedly from Bianca and subsequently reading about her solicitous scandal in the paper. The fifteen minutes of freedom I experienced came to a crashing halt. I had moved across the country for this career and I’m in a city that brought me heartache and now unemployment. Should I move back home to my safe haven-also known as my parents’ house?
I felt the color leave my face, “Los Angeles has been utter shit! What am I going to do?”
Nadia walked over to her vanity and pulled out a cauldron and box of frankincense. “Well, first, you seriously need to smudge your energy,” she said as she lit the coal and dumped a sizeable amount of incense into the cauldron.
“You’ve been hanging in Los Angeles way too long,” I hung my head low, “I don’t do desperate.”
Nadia took my hand in hers, “Listen, it’ll be OK. Just breathe. You can ask your parents for help while you figure out your next step.”
“Absolutely not!” I sat up, “I haven’t even told them what happened. They’ll yank me back to Ohio as fast as you can say Buckeye State.”
“OK … Can you say prideful? Well, can you dip into your savings?” Nadia asked while circling me with the cauldron burring feverishly over my head.
“Nadia, you’re adding to my anxiety; stop that. I have enough in my savings to last me a year without an income. I wish I could just get away somewhere and write. I don’t want to be in the hustle of job-hunting right now. I’m burned out. I think-” I trailed off staring towards her vanity and noticed the Vogue Magazine and the bold word “Italy” on the headline caught my eye. “I’ll go to Italy! I thought about it this morning in the cab. I’ll take some time off to travel and write!”
“Listen, it’ll be OK. Just breathe.”
Delirium has set in. “Yeah! I’ll put my stuff in storage, pack my suitcase, and just go! I’ll tell my Landlord right now I need to leave within the week.”
“A week?” Nadia dropped the cauldron and the coal began burning a hole in her Persian rug. “Oh for goodness sake, Jehan! Your meltdown is going to cost me a fortune to replace this rug.”
As Nadia scooped up the remnants off her floor, I continued to map out my plan.
“You can have my rug! The color pattern fits your place way better than mine. Listen-”
I was interrupted with Nadia’s beady eyes, “Pause. I’m all about this Eat, Pray, Love self-realization trip you’re romanticizing. It’s cute and all. But didn’t you just meet a handsome guy the other night? Don’t you want to give that time to develop before jetting off?” Nadia placed the ashes in the trashcan and settled on the chaise.
“When have you known me to ever put my life on hold for a guy?” I asked.
“Dapper Dean,” Nadia said flatly.
“Not fair,” I shook my head. “That was a low blow.” I caught Nadia’s gaze for a few seconds before gathering my belongings and headed towards her front door.
“Hey, wait! You can’t still be that sensitive about him.” Nadia shouted and walked behind me, hurrying her pace to catch up to me.
I turned around to meet her face to face. “It’s not about being sensitive. You know that heartbreak was devastating for me. And this layoff is equal, if not more than that. I’m in a city, thousands of miles away from my family, alone. The last person, who was my protector out here, for months, isn’t in my life and you bring him up? I am not in the space to deal with this conversation right now.”
Nadia’s face was met with the back of her door.
As I reached my apartment, I replayed the conversation with Nadia in my head and conveniently came up with 100 rebuttals. I caught my landlord getting ready to leave for the night.
“Hey! So, I got fired today. I need to put my notice in,” I said and leaned over to help her gather her files. “Sorry for the short notice.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that. 30 day notice, yeah?”
“No, by next week.”
“One week? Are you sure? You’ll forfeit your deposit. You know that right?”
I inhaled deeply before replying, “Yes. If I give myself more than a week, my Capricorn brain will talk myself out of it. I need to do this.”
“Why don’t you sleep on it? You’re not thinking straight,” Jessica patted my hand and walked off.
Before I could insist, my phone rang. “Ugh, what Sophia?”
“Well hello, sunshine. Where are you? I gave you 6:00PM WPT (white people time) for dinner and you’re now on AST (Arab standard time).”
I forgot, Sophia was hosting a dinner for her boyfriend’s recent promotion. “I thought dinner was Sunday!”
“Yeah and I reminded you this morning at breakfast, I changed the date. It’s tonight. Hurry up and get here.”
Nobody can realistically get to the West side of Los Angeles “in a hurry” during rush hour. I didn’t think I’ve ever wanted to even attempt at being the first brave soul to take on the daunting task, either. Somehow I managed to get myself out of my newly homeless look and into more suitable attire for Sophia’s dinner.
As I rushed through Sophia’s condominium lobby, I noticed my reflection in the hallway mirror. Oh good lord! I thought to myself. My disheveled hair and dark circles under my eyes did not escape the homeless look I failed to conceal. I grabbed my concealer stick from my purse and hurriedly applied the magic wand to my under eyes. The stress from the day has tired me out. I am tired all over. I’m so tired, even my hair aches.
“Always in a rush, aren’t you?” a deep, male voice asked from behind me. I glanced up into the mirror and saw the reflection of Emil staring back at me.
I grunted because I couldn’t think of anything witty to say back. Instead, I saluted him with my right hand that was holding onto my Starbucks cup.
“We aren’t on speaking terms now,” Emil cracked a smile.
“You seem to only pop up in my life when something horrible is happening. What are you, personal grim reaper?” I was amazed my vocal cords were working at this hour of the day.
“Ease up, life isn’t that bad. At the end of the day, nobody has taken away your birthday.”
I threw my head back and laughed. The release of tension that was lodged in my neck was therapeutic. I laughed so hard, I stumbled backwards.
“There’s the happiness that was fighting to get out. Where are you headed? I’ll walk you to the elevator,” Emil placed his hand on the small of my back and lead me towards the double doors.
“I’m meeting my good friend on the 5th floor, for dinner. You?”
“I’m headed up to the 5th floor!”
My eyes closed into a squint, “Wait, are you going to unit #525?”
“Yes! My buddy from work invited me over.”
Of course Sophia was insistent on tonight’s dinner, I thought to myself.
Emil glanced at my arms and said, “You didn’t bring anything to dinner?”
Sophia’s dinners were usually a glamour affair, thrown together with style and grace. Since Sophia didn’t actually cook herself, her trusted caterer always knew the perfect meal to whip up.
I avoided eye contact and responded, “I forgot dinner was tonight and I got fired unexpectedly today. It’s been a hell of a day,” I blinked back tears.
Emil grabbed a hold of the roses in the vase on the vanity to his left, “Here, first problem solved.” He placed the bouquet of wet roses in my arms. “Now, for problem number two, I’m sorry to hear that. But don’t worry about that tonight. Your focus should be on enjoying some good food and obviously good company. I’d love to treat you to a drink afterwards. I know this great wine bar down the street. We can strategize on your next move, if you’d like.”
“Thank you, that’s kind of you. But I don’t drink.”
I think I just fell in love.
“Gelato sounds heaven sent,” I smiled. “We really need to get up to Sophia’s before she sends the National Guard after us.” I could eat gelato every day and die young of obesity. Sugar is a glorious addiction. The mere thought of a gelato indulgence boosted my confidence for the night.
Emil outstretched his arm and naturally, I linked mine through his.
Stay tuned for next week!