“It’s just like, what am I supposed to do if daddy cuts me off?” she asked Todd who sat across the table.
Todd had just gotten done explaining to her the basics of budgeting, but his pleas for her to stop buying $110 iPhone cases and to drink coffee from her office’s Keurig in place of her daily “Starbs” fell on deaf ears.
“Todd,” she sternly barked to get his attention, “I can’t just sustain my lifestyle on my current salary.”
Trying to act as if he hadn’t already run that exact thought through his head multiple times before, he shot back — “You think I don’t already know that?” — before signaling that he wanted the check. “I told Jeff I’d meet up with him for the game at O’Malley’s.”
Shocked at his rudeness, she sat with her mouth completely open and her eyebrows raised. Todd could see the next sentence coming from a mile away while he took the last sip of his beer and began putting his coat on. And then it came.
“How dare you?”
He considered explaining to her that she’s not living a real life. He was tempted to tell her to “figure it out” and leave without any further explanation. He wanted to ask her to put her card down to cover her half of the bill (or, her two-thirds considering her glasses of Sauvignon Blanc took cost triple that of his beers). But he didn’t have the heart to.
“It’ll all be okay,” he began. “I’ll come over after the game and we’ll talk everything out.”
As they said their goodbyes, she was less concerned with Todd’s lack of concern and more worried about her long term. When will she be able to afford a new car? When will she be able to buy a house? When will she get married?
Opting to walk back to her apartment on foot rather than take an Uber with 2x surge pricing (budgeting, you know?), she really began to rack her brain for her next move in life. But first, she wanted to buy her favorite celebrity’s new cookbook at the bookstore on the corner next to her apartment.
She approached a sales associate to see if they had any in stock before launching into a conversation about how they both heard the quinoa and Brussels sprouts recipes were “too die for” and how everything sounded “beyond delish.” But as she led her to the cookbook section, something caught her eye in a small aisle next to the magazine rack. It was a book titled, “So You’re Thinking About Going To Grad School.” She paused as if the author herself had put the book there for her to intentionally see during her quarter-life crisis.
“Wait,” she told the associate, “I see something else.”
She immediately walked over to the book and held it in her hands, eyes wide open, before sitting down on the wooden bench between the two aisles. It was the first time she’d held a book since she had purchased her Kindle, and definitely the first time since she had received her iPad Air for Christmas. But as she opened the book to the table of contents, she was again approached by the sales associate who she had just bonded with over free range Brussels sprouts.
“Ma’am, I just wanted to let you know that we’re closing in a few minutes,” she was told.
Confused, she had two questions for the associate, whose name she was trying to make out on her name tag.
“Okay, first of all, Sarah, I’m not a ‘ma’am’ — that’s, like, so insulting. And second of all, is this how you treat all of your customers? Like, I’m probs going to buy this book.”
Sarah, offended and tired from her ten-hour shift, briefly apologized before walking away and mouthing the word “bitch” to her coworker who had already started closing the register.
As she sat on the bench for the next half hour reading the intro, her perspective on life had suddenly gone from hopeless to hopeful. She was realizing that she could take her degree in marketing and begin applying to some two-year programs that would nearly double her salary, all without taking on any debt as her father had assured her she’d never have to worry about student loan payments as long as she kept her grades up.
Placing the book back on the shelf, she walked to the front of the store and attempted to open the locked door.
“Oh, sorry,” Sarah angrily said from the register. “We closed twenty minutes ago and I locked the door so no one else could come in. Did you find everything you were looking for?” Her tone, which was wildly sarcastic, was a product of staying open for twenty extra minutes only to not close on a sale.
Not realizing she was being somewhat chastised by Sarah, she responded, “Yup! Thanks!” before exiting to the street and making her way up the stairs to her apartment. While walking up the stairs, she pulled up Find Friends to see that Todd was still at O’Malley’s for the game.
“Todddddddd,” she texted. “When will you be back? I have big newssssss.”
Three dots immediately popped up on her screen, but Todd’s response text didn’t come in for another five minutes when she had settled herself in bed with her laptop and Sperry. He assured her that he’d be back to her place in about an hour-and-a-half.
“Ugh, fiiiiiiiiiine,” she responded just before typing “best grad schools” into her search bar. Bored with the lists US News was offering her, she slowly dozed off with FRIENDS playing in the background.
But, around 11:30 p.m. (two hours after Todd said he’d be back), she heard a clamoring at the door.
“Todd… is that you?”
“Yeah, baby, it’s me,” he mumbled back while struggling to lock the door behind him. His shadowy figure emerged in her doorway before he took off his coat and sat at the end of the bed smelling like cheap whiskey and rolled cigarettes. He clarified that he was “fine” before taking off his shirt and lying down next to her in bed.
She knew she should be mad but was too tired to muster up the emotional strength to launch into an argument about his timeliness or how much he had drank. Instead, she explained her night to him — “So, I was thinking, I think I want to go grad school.”
With his eyes shut on the verge of falling completely asleep, he half-heartedly responded, “That’s great.”
“I’m thinking I’d start this fall,” she continued only to get interrupted by Todd’s heavier breathing.
“Todd, wake up,” she demanded.
“Sorry, sorry, I’m exhausted from that overtime,” he said lethargically.
“I mean, like, does grad school affect any of your plans in life, or is this just going to be life-changing for me?” she continued.
“My plans?” he responded.
At this point, she was sitting up in her bed on the offensive becoming more and more angry that Todd had stayed out late getting drunk with his friend instead of watching reruns of FRIENDS with her for the third consecutive night.
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe if you were going to, like, propose to me or something?” she snapped.
Todd’s eyes opened, confused by where he found himself in the midst of this conversation.
“Ummm… what?” .
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