My interviewer and I were shuffling out together, talking about the latest Murakami book we bonded over. I had splashed out my many and wide variety of books I had read in the past, namely pin-pointing Murakami. As they say, after that, the rest was history. I took it as a good sign that her arm was hooped around mine as we were walking out of her office. The job was perfect, the location in New York was perfect, everything was perfect. Out of all the interviews I had endured over the past weeks, this was the company I truly wanted to work for; hell, live in!
I was rounding the corner of a busy street when I bumped into a blonde man. When we stumbled and buckled, I noticed it was Adam right in front of me. A small world after all, eh?
“What are you doing here!?” I squealed exuberantly, throwing my arms over him.
“How are you?” Adam said through my hair, his wide grin showing when we pulled back to appreciate each other’s presence before it vanished soon enough.
“I’m great,” I said. Indeed, I was nauseatingly happy. “I’ve just come out of an interview.”
Adam’s eyebrows lifted in surprise. “You’re interviewing in New York?”
I nodded. “I’m moving by the end of the year.”
“Wha—why didn’t you tell me? I could have shown you around, we could have celebrated…”
“Care to have an impromptu celebration now?”
“Are you sure? You look like you were on your way to somewhere.”
I was on my way to Daniel’s but I could just text him that I’d be a bit late. “I’ve hardly seen you in such a long time. We have to.”
“Well, okay, umm,” Adam thought, “I was just on my way to a lunch reservation, I’m sure they can make room for another.”
Adam chuckled. “Word G-money.”
I had to refrain from groaning at the pain in my feet. I was wearing heels but I had only considered the mobility between a cab and the interview, nothing more. I was undoubtedly wrong, but grateful that our walk wasn’t akin to a hike.
“Fancy,” I said as my eyes wandered over the linen table cloths, the white and yellow peonies huddled in a clear round-bottomed vase in the middle of the table, the bartender who’s cologne I had to ask about before we left so I could offer it up to Daniel.
“Yeah, I’m a hotshot,” Adam smiled. The both of us ordered water when the waiter came and went.
I rolled my eyes. “I’ve missed you hotshot. You’re my Californian Soul! What’s been going on?”
Adam shrugged. “Same old, same old. I’m pining for a promotion at the company but, you never know. We got a lot of competition.”
“Must be rough in New York.”
“It’s not just New York; job prospects are hard. It’s not just about what degree you have or what skills you think you got, it’s all about who you know now.” Adam took a sip of water. “Remember how you were still working at Martin’s?” I nodded. “How did you know about Randy’s?”
I smiled. “Through you.”
Adam stretched his arms out evenly and grinned. “Through me.” I smiled. “I hope you’ve got someone backing you up for these interviews in New York.”
I nodded. “I do, back in California.”
“I never asked, why are you moving to New York? Finally missed me that much, huh?”
I laughed. “I just couldn’t stay away. No, I uh, I’m moving in with Daniel.”
Adam remained expressionless. Or rather, his current expression hadn’t changed a fraction of a muscle. “Daniel.”
“Yeah,” I took a sip of my water. Where was the waiter with our salads…and a buffer?
“You guys are still together?”
I chuckled. “You sound disappointed.”
“No, I umm,” Adam quickly tried to backtrack, stumbling over his words, “I really do sound disappointed don’t I?” I laughed. “Sorry,” he finally said.
I waved it off. “Yeah, well,” I shrugged. “It’s where we are now.”
When the waiter came with the food, Adam and I maintained an unusual silence. Even the waiter was taken aback by it considering a minute ago we were bustling and, before him now, we were mute. He asked if everything was okay with the lot so far, and we replied with an enigmatic ‘yes’ and nodded.
“What about you?” I asked, attempting to liven up what little conversation we had dangling from the placid lines of our lips. “Seeing anyone?”
Adam laughed. “Speaking of which.”
“Hi,” I heard from behind me. Adam was staring up beyond me as a woman approached.
He stood for a kiss and then gestured my way. I stood as well, the movement was slow, sluggish from confusion. “Anna, this is Clare; Clare, Anna.”
I shook her hand.
“It’s so nice to finally meet you,” she said. “I’ve heard so much about you.”
I wish I could say the same. “So nice to meet you, too.” And I thought the third and fourth chair were just a given. Was there a fourth coming? Now I was just paranoid.
Clare and Adam sat down, and Clare had already started looking through the menu, oblivious to the fact that I was still standing, the aftershock taking its sweet time to wear off. I guess I had to see it coming. It was Adam after all, and I knew he could get any girl in the he’s-such-an-amazing-guy kind of way; I just didn’t know why it was so hard for me to process it this very moment. Adam stared at me, apologetic, to say the least. I knew he could tell that I felt sprung on.
Suddenly I felt more like an intruder than a guest. “You know what, I just realised I have to go. I’m still meeting up with Daniel and going out. And he’s probably waiting on me as we speak.” I turned to Clare. “You can take my salad if you want, I haven’t taken a bite.” I figured neither of them wanted to wait to eat. It was the least I could do. Why did I feel guilty all of a sudden?
“Are you sure?” Clare asked, smiling gratefully up at me.
I nodded. “Absolutely.”
“Give me a call sometime,” I interrupted Adam. “Bye, nice meeting you again,” I told Clare.
Clare smiled. “You too.”
I had just stepped out and walked a few steps when I was tapped on the shoulder. I turned around to find Adam staring down at me. Adam was tall enough to tower over any woman, but not so tall as to be a basketball player.
“You seem disappointed,” Adam grinned.
I shook my head and shrugged. “I just have to go.”
“Oh, come on, it’s me, you can’t fling that bullshit at me,” Adam laughed. “I know you all too well.”
I laughed too, going red. I hated that I was so transparent when I was around him. Sometimes I thought that nobody knew me as well as Adam knew me. For a second there I was frozen at the sight of Adam’s eyes staring right back at me. It almost felt surreal; invisible shackles held me in place.
I realised then that I knew I would never be looked at by Adam the way he used to look at me. We were living two different lives, barely able to keep up with each other. I used to be so close to him and now we were so distant.
“I should go,” I finally said. “I’ll see you later.”
I felt Adam staring at me as I walked away, I was sensitive to the transparency as much as it was unnervingly transparent. When I passed a few blocks the heat-filled feeling inside of me, as if I had swallowed the sun and it made a nest within my belly, had subsided. The sky was clear, the clouds were gone, and shamefully I understood why I had felt so guilty. I was jealous.