“Originally I wanted to be a painter. I loved to paint. I would stay up at night, put on some Rachmaninov, Mozart or Beethoven—Vivaldi was too edgy for me but I played him on nights where I just hated life—and I would go to town on a blank canvas. I was living in a shitty apartment in California, then I moved to an even shittier apartment in New York to live out my dreams. I had a teacher who once told me that I was talented in all areas artistic, but sucked at getting myself out there. He told me I should get myself out there, otherwise I’d be stuck in a hell of my own making and come to resent painting. At the time, I was so far removed from the inter-web world that when I got into it, I couldn’t connect with anyone. I tried art galleries and they laughed me out into the streets. New York especially was hard. Oh back then was even harder. It was more elite. Before self-publishing was even considered a legitimate practise I started putting myself online, and the only monetary variance was the depletion of the funds in my bank account to pay for a domain name. It’s safe to say I had no chance in selling my paintings.
“I moved back to California and lived with my parents for a bit before I found a place on my own. My dreams of becoming an artist crushed and replaced by a coffee shop gig where every entitled Californian seemed to pass through and seek to torment my day with their questions. “How long have you been working here?” they’ll ask. “Just a couple of months.” Then they’ll say, “Is this what you’ve always wanted to with your life?” Yeah. Sure. I wanted to take orders from a smug asshole who wears a $2000 suit and Gucci loafers. One day, I met this guy called Tom. Such a nice guy. One of the few. We got to talking and I told him all about my struggles as a painter. “I understand,” he told me, “but you have to realise that no one cares about that shit unless someone important says it’s important.” I told him I wanted to make something authentic. He nodded and said, “I get it. I do. But it doesn’t exist anymore. This is the digital age. The digital age has become that club where anyone can get in. You don’t even have to work hard anymore. Fuck those people that say they work hard. What, you worked hard out in the gym to get a slammin’ body? Nah-uh. I don’t want to hear about your struggles of downing egg whites and avocado. But—” he shrugged— “this is the way it is now.” There was something in his conviction of words that made me realise life had changed dramatically and I had no part of it. I was nowhere to be found in this turnover of this digital age. And he was right.”
I stared at him, waiting for him to continue, but he just stopped. “So…what do you do now?”
“Now? I’m a record producer.”
“And your paintings?”
“Well, someone important—a famous music artist—said they were awesome and now they’re selling like hotcakes. Just sold my last one for $15,000 to Shakira. Apparently she’s a big fan ever since I started. But to her and everyone else, they all think I started painting after becoming a huge, hot-shot record producer.” He sighed with a coy smile. “The contradiction of humanity amuses me.”
Guess what guys?
Daniel’s valentine’s day gift is….(drum roll please)…PISH! A weekend trip to California.
New York will always be our home away from home, but California is just embedded into the depths of our hearts. We love—we LOVE—California. For some people, leaving home and making a new one is home; for others, having left home to live somewhere else is only to have left home. Not saying it in a sad way, but we fit in the latter category. We love New York, I mean, it’s a little world of its own. But there’s no place like California. At least, not the California that I know. And that included my friends and what used to be my family.
“Are you really not going to visit your mother?” Daniel asked as we settled into our hotel room.
“I’m really serious. She just…I can’t.”
“But it’s your mother.”
“She’s done an injustice to me. She hurt me…real bad. I can’t deal with her now.” I pointed my finger at Daniel in warning. “And don’t even think about calling her.”
He put his hands up, palms open. “Wasn’t even thinking of it. Actually I was, but now that you mention it…”
I shook my head and narrowed my eyes, smiling with him. “Daniel…” I warned again.
His smile cheekier. I grabbed the hotel pillow of the bed and swung it at him. Multiple times he tried catching it until finally, on the third try, he had it and snatched it right out of my weak grip.
In a hotel room, you have nowhere to run to but the bathroom. But even there you’re not safe. I had to curve around the bed and ultimately took way too long to even reach halfway when Daniel caught me by the waist and threw me across the soft, bouncy bed.
“Mmm, I’ll smother you with kisses,” Daniel breathed over my neck.
I closed my eyes and craned my neck up. “Please, do.”
Daniel chuckled and pulled back. He stared at me as he stroked my face. “We should get out of here.”
I frowned. “Why?”
“Because Janet and Stanley are expecting us. Along with Chloe and Jodie.” He slid off the bed and I held out my hand for him to grab and pull me up. “Let’s go.”
“So it’s going to be a small get together apparently, and then afterwards, we’ll go to the beach. What do you think of that?”
I swung my hands with his as we walked up the lone street. “Sounds good. You’re extra-romantic lately.” Should I expect an impending delight? Perhaps a shiny one?
He squeezed my hand. “You like it?”
“You ready?” he asked as we were approaching.
“Yeah, but,” I furrowed my brows to the sound of muffled music, “I thought it was going to be a small gathering?”
“It’s really bomping up in there,” Daniel chuckled.
He rang the doorbell and we waited. The door flew open with Stanley in front with a massive grin and a beer in the other hand. “Heeeeeeeey party people!” Daniel and I laughed and sprung in to hug him. “God, Anna, how are you? Daniel, wassup, man?”
“It’s good seeing you,” I said while Daniel and Stanley were having a bromance.
“Yeah, you too, Anna. Janet’s over at the bar.” He pointed.
“You guys have a bar?”
“Technically it’s just a table with a whole lot of drinks. Thus, the bar.”
“Alright, I’ll see you then.”
I found Janet in a second and we squealed like a couple of school girls. We ran up to each other and hugged tightly and started jumping.
“Holy shit, your house!” I said.
Janet laughed. “I know. I’m all grown up. Got a mortgage and everything.”
“It’s so beautiful Janet. Do we get a tour?”
“Later, later! First, Chloe and Jodie.” She popped her head up and stood on her tiptoes. “Now where are those bitches?” she mused.
I couldn’t help but admire the three corn rows on the side of her head. Apart from that, she looked exactly the same. Wearing her sequined long-sleeve dress. With the party people looking hot and turnt up I felt supremely underdressed in my jeans and white shirt. At least it was an embellished collar white shirt.
As soon as we located Jodie and Chloe we hugged and squealed again. I caught eyes with Daniel across the room watching us with Stanley and laughing as we jumped like crazy.
“Chloe, your hair!”
“I know,” she grabbed her wavy bob, “I chopped it all off.” It used to be the length of her back!
“You guys are so…different,” I said.
“Well what’d you expect?” Jodie nudged me.
“I don’t know I just—it’s just wow. So much has changed.”
“Aww you sound so sad,” Chloe pouted with a smile.
“I’ve missed a lot, it seems,” I shrugged.
“But it’s okay,” Janet said, “plenty of time to catch up.”
“Guys, factoring in her flight she has like a day left,” Jodie said.
We fell into an amusing sort of knowing silence when I felt arms wrap around my waist. “How are you ladies?”
In sync they all said. “Daniel…” I dipped deeper into his embrace.
“Doin’ fine Daniel. You?”
“Pretty damn good.”
Jodie lifted a brow. “That sounds promising.” Then, she put a hand on her hip and stared him down. “Anything we should know about?”
“You’ll know when you know, Jodie.”
She pointed. “I hope so.”
“You’ll be the first,” he assured her.
“Good,” Jodie nodded.
“Well,” Janet clapped her hands together, “now that’s sorted, let’s get to the party, bitches!”
The whole gang was here. Even Tina. But I couldn’t help but miss one person.
I made plans to go for lunch with the girls tomorrow instead of just partying the night away. Well, I couldn’t. I didn’t even want to. I was looking forward to spending the night walking with Daniel on the beach. It was romantic, despite the Chicago-style hotdogs we were downing and smearing all over our mouths.
“Damn, we look like we just came back from sucking someone’s blood,” Daniel said as he wiped his mouth.
I laughed. “Oh good, I thought you were going to say something else.”
Daniel’s eyes widened in realisation. “Oh God, no!” He laughed with me.
After we finished the hotdogs, we popped in a chewy each and held hands.
“Oh, man, the sand feels so good underneath my bare feet,” I sighed.
“I believe you,” Daniel laughed, “you look like you’re about to have an orgasm.”
I smacked him on the shoulder. “Shut up.”
He recoiled out of the way before I could get him properly. “Alright. Serious business.”
“I found another apartment—”
He nodded. “It’s pretty cool.”
“Why do you say it like that?”
“Well, I just want you to see it and think about it.”
“What? Is it Snoop Dogg’s previous home complete with his equipment?”
Daniel chuckled. “Just look at it.”
“Come on, Daniel, what’s the surprise?”
He shrugged. “It’s nothing…big.”
“Is it within our price range?” Daniel didn’t reply. I opened my mouth in surprise. “Daniel! No way. We can’t afford to keep going up.”
“Just hear me out.” I waited for him to speak but he was frozen. Then, he held up a finger. “I meant, take a look at the place first then refuse.”
I chortled. “’Then refuse?’”
“It might be tight—”
“You’re talking about expenses, right?”
He pulled me into a side-hug. “But I think this place is us, you know?”
“I’ll see,” I said after a while.
“That’s all I wanted.” He took out his phone to check some work emails when I got a message on mine.
Justin: ‘So, about my offer? I know you’re hesitant but, care for me to take a look?’
Without so-called ‘hesitation’, I replied in a minute: ‘No thanks. I got someone working on it.’
I replied: ‘An editor. What’s it to you?’
Justin: ‘Big mistake, but whatever…’
I rolled my eyes. I couldn’t help my agitation and when I hit send on the last text, I immediately felt regretful. ‘You’re whole existence was a mistake!’ It was childish, I know, but he does piss me off. And considering how much I hold back, he fucking deserves this one harsh text.
“Hey,” I said, catching Daniel’s attention away from his phone, “I want you to read what I’ve been writing.”
Daniel look up from his phone. His cell screen’s backlight faded to black and, without taking a second glance at it, he shoved it back into his pocket. Full attention on me. “Really?”
My heart thudded. “Yes. Just the first chapter though. And it’s still a little rough so I don’t want you to be too harsh. But I also want you to be fully honest. If you can.” I half-smiled at my confusing plights. “I don’t expect you to critique it like an editor would, I’m going to find someone to do that once the whole novel is finished, but I want you to see—to read—what I’m working on.”
“What?” I breathed.
“I’m just…really happy you trust me so much. I know it’s hard for you to show me your work. Some people don’t like it and some people are easy on it. I get it. It’s your baby.”
I cringed on his last word and hoped he didn’t notice. “Yeah.”
“Meh,” I shrugged, looking down to avoid his earnest eyes.
When I turned my head up, he was gone from beside me. I turned back and found him stopped with his hands in his pockets.
“I want to ask you a really important question,” he called out. I could see his chest rising and lowering quickly, the nerves of his neck quivering.
I walked back closer to him. “Yeah?”
“A really important question. And I think I know your answer now which is why it feels like the thrill of diving eighty feet off a cliff and into Greek waters.”
“I’ve never been to Greece,” I randomly said.
Daniel smiled. “We should go then.”
“I never planned to do this in public. But, I don’t want to waste another day, another step, without you being mine. I want to know now. So…Anna….” He grabbed my hand as he started to slide down to one knee. No one in sight and underneath the moonlit night, it was starting to feel more magical. “Will…you….” His eyed drifted to the far off distance and suddenly he grimaced. Then, he shot up to his feet. “Holy fucking hell. What’s this?” he hissed.
I was taken aback. “Umm?” From being elated to emotionally challenged, I was too confused to know how I should feel.
Then I heard a squeal from behind me. “Daniel!”
I turned around and there was Sandy approaching us. The girl who used to be so obsessed with Daniel back when he was a playboy. “What the—?”
“It’s like destiny is all my ex-girls combined,” he murmured.
“Oh my God it’s been too long!” she squealed again.
Daniel forced a smile and, under his breath, said, “Not long enough.”
***Thanks for being patient guys. I postponed last week’s post expecting to send it sooner but then I fell ill. I had to work a short shift because no one could cover it and then I had 2 doctor visits. Was not a good week for me. Was really pissed too, I was feeling the creative itch to write on my novel last week and all I did was sleep and walk around the house with an attitude akin to that of a vampire lol. Anyway, I feel better, not entirely, but much, much better. Thanks again and see you next week! Soul xo***