The Jennifer Chronicles - Volume IX
May 9, 2010New Year's Resolutions - Revised
A funny thing happened during the winter. Somewhere around February, I realized I hadn't attempted my New Year's resolutions; they had been downgraded to wishful thinking before I got out of the gate. On a lazy Saturday afternoon, I reviewed my list with Carrie by phone while lounging on the couch.
"Lose ten pounds and exercise regularly."
Carrie snorted into the phone. "Very original."
I ignored the sarcasm.
"Go back to school."
"Uh-hunh," she said.
"Take up a hobby," I said. It came out more like a question than a statement.
I heard nothing. It was official. My resolutions were so mundane, they weren't worth paying attention to.
"Okay," I countered with just a hint of belligerence. "What's wrong with them?"
"Nothing," she said. "You've covered three of the basic activities of human existence that ninety-five percent of people want to address and only five percent ever do. Do the math."
"I resent your statistics," I said. "You sound like Louise." Louise, my former friend who was never really my friend. We had known each other for twenty years and before I left, the so called friendship had abruptly ended. She didn't betray my trust, steal my boyfriend, or suck me into any get-rich-quick pyramid schemes. Despite appearances, it became painfully clear she was unhappy with her life. Subsequently, she took great pleasure when I was miserable; it made her life look good. I would have preferred the pyramid scheme. It would have hurt me less.
Still, being nostalgic for home, I wondered what she was up to. I wondered what a lot of people were up to. Well, only one other person.
"Joanie," Carrie began, "forget about what's on your list. What about what's not on your list?"
I went silent.
"You've been living out there for six months now Joans. No dating, no boyfriend, no real friends."
"It's not for lack of trying," I grumbled.
"Forget Jackson. That was a half-hearted attempt. The first thing you have to do is decide if you want to date the boss."
"Didn't we cover this at my mother's wedding? I'm staying with my original answer. No. Duncan is strictly off-limits. He's no-man's land, he's toxic, he's my Kryptonite, he does not complete me, he is not my lobster. Got it?"
Not to mention, he would be a repeat of my last mistake, only he was much better looking. The thought of my previous boss, Tim Wells, streaked across my consciousness, along with our tete-a-tete's in his office. Ugh. I rolled my eyes, wondering how many years it would take to get those memories out of my head. What a schmuck. Me, not him...well, him too.
"And drinks on New Year's Eve?"
"New Year's Eve meant nothing. Duncan was bored. He didn't want to be alone," I rushed, desperate to change the subject. "Forget Duncan. He's not the issue. Listen, you haven't seen or heard from Louise, have you?"
"You're kidding right?"
It was a long shot. Carrie and Louise had been marginally connected at best by one degree of separation: me.
"Have you seen anyone else we know?"
I squeezed my eyes closed.
"Like who?" she repeated.
"Like Steve," I said.
Silence greeted my statement. Okay, I admit it, I was hopeless. My life hadn't turned out quite the way I envisioned and now I was playing the 'What might have been game', wondering what happened to Steve, the one I let get away. Carrie remained silent.
"You haven't seen him?"
More silence and then: "I've seen him. I was hoping you wouldn't ask."
I felt my lips purse and my blood pressure rise. "Okay, do it like a band-aid. Just tell me straight. Is he just dating or living with someone?"
I was off the couch and pacing, feeling my blood heating up and my face growing warm. After a few minutes of heavy breathing and muttered obscenities I exploded.
"What is it?! Can you tell me? What is it with me? I date a guy and the next thing I know he's married to someone else. You know women don't need an internet dating service, speed dating, or a matchmaker. They need to hire me to date the person they want. As soon as we're done, he'll be on his way over with the ring!"
Carrie let me get it out of my system. "He wanted to marry you Joanie. You said no."
"Does that mean he has to marry someone else so soon? What is it with men? Don't they understand the mourning period? How come no one mourns their lost relationship with me? It's like I wasn't even there. I would like one man to miss me. Just a few days of being blind drunk and unable to get out of bed. I would even accept rampant meaningless sexual conquests in order to erase my memory. Anything! Is that too much to ask?!"
I flopped down on the couch, spent. It's not easy being forgettable.
"Joanie, I'm sorry about Steve, but you have to face reality. You're out there by yourself and I assume you're staying. You have to make a life. It's time. You need friends, a social life, and a relationship. You're not living a full life Joans."
I didn't say anything because there was nothing to say. She was right. I had come all this way and I was hiding. I was afraid. I'd had a whole, complete, insulated life. What if I put myself out there and there were no takers? Secretly, I was terrified I would try to make friends and everyone's slots would be full. Someone would hand me a clipboard, ask me to list my name and phone number and tell me I would get a call if someone died or moved out of town.
"You know, you're encouraging me to replace you."
"Get out there Joanie, it's time."
"You want some girlfriends, go where the girls go. When was the last time you had a waxing or a manicure?"
"And what about a boyfriend?"
"First, decide what to do about Duncan."
"Carrie, I told you-"
"And I'm telling you, he wasn't bored. Remember Wells? I gave it to you straight then. You were going to have a reality check about him and you did. I'm telling you now. Duncan didn't offer you a transfer just because of your fabulous filing skills. He's going to make you another offer. You need to be ready and know what you want to do. Remember, you heard it here first. The more independent you become, the more of a catch you'll be for him."
I didn't protest. Carrie's track record was too good. The odds were in her favor.
"Toss your list, Joans. Start again."
We said goodbye and hung up. She was right. I had to suck up the fear and get out there and in the game. It was time. But I was going to keep my weight and exercise goal on the list. I can dream, can't I?
Next Week: New Year's Resolutions - Revised, Part II
Read how it all began! Project Jennifer is available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Project-Jennifer-Jill-Amy-Rosenblatt/dp/0758223587/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1273457966&sr=8-1