I can hear it now: the rhythmic snap from the train tracks nearby, and the neighbors wind chime dancing in a gust of wind – suddenly I wake up. Light headed at first, chest thumping in my head and the sunlight prying through the slits of my barely broken eyes. I draw in a deep breath as I fall down from the sky.
For a long moment, I just lay there. Distorted, with bed sheets contorted by the twists and turns of last night. I smack and lick my lips, curing the morning dry mouth. As I look out the window to see the punching blue sky behind the gray apartments, I enjoy this small moment in time when I can just lay there, without thinking. No thinking. Just accepting of the beauty that lies before me.
I get up, walk across the cold chocolate brown hardwood floors of my two story apartment, and slide into an immaculately finished, glass partitioned shower. The lower faucet turns on, rushing a stream of warm water into my hands, letting the water warm into my hands as I splash some of it onto my face. I turn on the shower, stand up, and stand there, with my back facing the shower head- doing nothing at all. Just thinking. When I stop thinking, I get out.
My warm hand wipes away the morning fog from the giant mirror so I can take a proper look. I take a comb, sift a part atop my hair, and start folding. With a sliver of pomade being warmed into my hands, I weave the creamy like product as it frames my hair into it’s natural shape. A quick spritz, a double take, and I’m finished. Perfect.
I walk towards the closet door, half naked, body warm, hair fixed, with nothing but a towel around my waist. As I finger through my spectrum of shirts – conveniently and religiously categorized by color – I choose a navy blue pair of pants, a crisp white shirt, and a blazer to match.
At the top of my dresser is a black box. I open it, revealing a set of various Men’s jewelry: cuff links, tie bars, money clips, pocket squares, collar stays, rings and necklaces. Two silver squared cuff links, one silver tie bar, and two silver collar stays, please. I brush, rinse, button up and lace down my chocolate brown shoes that (conveniently) match my hardwood floors. And in one fell swoop, I grab my things, and head out the door.
There’s a swing in my step as if my middle name were confidence. Blindly but successfully navigating through the crossroads of San Francisco, I slip into a cozy Cafe on my way down the hill.
Her: Good Morning Ranier. How are things this morning?
Me: Perfect as always. You look beautiful today. New dress?
Her: Oh no, I wore this last week. I’m guessing you don’t remember…
Me: Hmm…I guess not.
(I take a seat at the small round wooden table near the pastry display)
Me: Well, you look nice. Any plans for this evening?
Her: Just helping my father close up shop early.
Her: Yes, we’re going to watch a show tonight at the theater.
Me: Well that’s good. Tell Gene I said hi.
Her: I will. Ready to order?
Me: Yes. The usual, please.
Her: Of course *smile*
After a light breakfast of tea and croissants, I drop a few dollars and coins into the tip jar on the counter, and stride down towards the bus stop. At first it was awkward. To sit on a bus stop with dozens of ill dressed, torn and battered citizens, while I sat upright in my crisp suit, made me feel guilty. I wish I could do something…but I can’t. Or rather, I won’t.
The bus comes to a stop and I walk out last. Ahh...As I step off, I inhale a refreshing burst of chilled morning air. I get off on Post and Grant and head over to work. The building at the Advertising Agency is quite nice. Classy on the outside, sophisticated and modern on the inside. After I set my things down, I get to work. Making various calls to current, future, and past clients.
“The contract ends next Friday. ”
“Aaron, we’re going to need a better and more streamlined poster for that 2018 fall campaign.”
“Dinner at 7? I’ll pick you up.”
Time seems to blaze by like a comet when you’re this busy. But for me, it doesn’t. Time goes by pretty slowly when I’m at work. But I guess it doesn’t help when you surround yourself with clocks: on the screen, on the wall, and on your phone. And just when the minute hand hits 12 and the hour at 5, I grab my briefcase, my keys, my phone, and leave.
The bus ride back home is much more lonely, but a lot more fun. Sure, there are a few regulars, but there’s always a handful of new faces. Who will it be today? A solemn hippie? A pair of tweens? Or maybe a beautiful woman, with red hair. Nah…not today. Today it’s just a few business men. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Home at last. The first floor of my apartment looks cozy, which is strange because everything is so modern. Hard lines, soft colors, but all man. Silver. Chocolate. Blue. These are the colors that paint my walls, my tables and my couches. And after a long day at work, all I want to do is relax, listen to old music, and make myself a drink or two.
By then, even though I’m tired, I slowly get up and fix myself a Gibson Martini. Dry, smooth, and still too strong for my taste buds. The cracked leather sofa engulfs me in her arms as I doze off for an hour, letting Miles Davis take me away into the night.
” Ring! Ring!”
My eyes jolt open, and I check my phone. “1 missed call: Josephine” I get up, take off my tie, and change into something for tonight’s date. Unlike this morning, I can’t take my time to get dressed, seeing as how I only have 45 minutes to get changed and pick up my date. So I swiftly change into a pair of black pants, a gray blazer, black lace ups, and the same unbuttoned white shirt.
Patting down my jacket to check if I brought my things, I violently press the unlock button on my keys and open my car door. One more check in my rear view mirror to ensure my hair is still pressed, and I jet off into the cold night. By now, darkness has come over the city and I’m trailing through the cramped streets rather quickly. All the lights are a blur and I feel like I’m in a game of tron. Red light. Green light. Go.
When I get to her apartment, I lean against the side of my car, checking my hair again, and popping a few altoids into my mouth. The lights in her apartment turn off and I see the door slowly open as her slender figure walks towards my car. I stand up, walk to her, kiss her on the cheek, and open the passenger door.
Her: You smell great, as always.
Me: And you look graceful, as always.
She really does. She’s wearing a black trench coat with the belt of the coat cinched at her waist. As I hold the door open, she loosens her belt to reveal a gorgeous black dress with black lace trimming the bottom – barely visible, but still apparent. Her heels are scarlet red which matches her lipstick. And dark gold hair folded at her back. She looks like a woman from the 60’s. She’s breathtaking.
When we get to the restaurant, it’s packed. A small line is wrapped around the front, disturbing the diners outside. Sucks for them. I wiggle through the line and walk up towards the host.
Me: Hi there, I have reservations at 7
Glen: Right this way Monsieur!
(Josephine tries to speak into my ear, but due to loudness of the restaurant, it sounds like a whisper)
Josephine: How did you manage to get past the line?
Me: When you’ve been to as many restaurants as I have, the staff begins to notice you- they have favorites.
Josephine: Did you know that man?
Me: Actually, no. We’ve never spoken before.
We sit for about two hours, talking about life, work, and love, while eating some of the cities best food. Dish after dish, a flurry of culinary excellence, all at the hands of myself, and my beautiful date. Josephine is a smart woman, and a woman of taste. Being that she’s 6 years older than me, she believes that she knows more about food. I don’t believe it, but I don’t say it.
An hour and a half into dinner, the restaurant has calmed down, the line outside is gone, and the night is only getting colder. As I step outside, I notice her shoulders shivering in the cold wind. I take off my jacket, roll down my sleeves, and cover her as I walk her into the car.
Her: You’re a sweet man, you know that?
(My modesty gets the best of me, and I keep driving, trying to hold back a big smile which turns int a smirk. She sees me smile, rubs the side of my right cheek with the back of her fingers, and smiles back at me. I can’t see her smile, but I can feel it)
I turn off the engine and look outside her window, onto the front of her apartment.
Her: You can come in if you’d like. Have a drink with me?
Her: What? You need to drink something to settle all of that food in your stomach. Come on! I’ll fix you some tea.
I surrender, get out of the car, and follow her up the stairs and towards her room at the top floor. Room 109. “Here we are”. Her place is nice. I can’t necessarily compare it to mine, because they’re both very different. But it’s still nice, nonetheless. There are lots of yellows, reds and oranges. Quite fitting for the mood if you ask me.
Her: Here, sit down. Let me get you some tea
She takes off her coat and shoes, and glides through the kitchen like an Angel, filling up a kettle with water as she sets it on top of the stove. She looks from over the counter and onto the sofa, where I sit comfortably.
Her: Do you want green tea or black?
Me: Green tea please.
(after a few minutes of bustling in the kitchen, she plops down onto the couch next to me. Very next to me)
Her: So, Mr. Advertising man, you have it all: The car, the house, the job – what next?
Me: Ya know?.. I’m not sure. (I can tell she wants me to kiss her, but I resist)
Her: Oh? Do you see yourself getting married anytime soon?
Me: I’ve always wanted to get married, but as of now I… I’m just not sure yet.
(her face leans in and lowers, creating a shadow under her eyes)
Her: No need to worry. You have all the time in the world..
Her lips move forward and her eyelids slowly close. My hand grasps the side of her face as I press my lips firmly against hers. Each major kiss is followed by a minor soft one. We set down our tea cups and kiss, for what seems like forever, in the dimmed lights of room 109. She viciously unbuttons my shirt as I unhook her bra and lift her up onto the counter.
And just as I’m kissing her neck, her arms spread out, head tilted back, arms clenching the sides of the counter, I see the moonlight. I see the night. I look at the sky and think to myself “What the hell am I doing? This woman is gorgeous. This woman is beautiful, graceful, smart, intelligent, and most importantly, a woman. But I have no intentions of marrying her. I need to leave..”
I let the mood fade down as I grip her in my warm embrace, and kiss her goodnight. The city is dead now. No one is up. Everyone is sleeping, and if not, they’re down in the heart of the city, where all the action is going on. But me, I drive home, and park in front of my apartment.
I turn off the engine, roll back the chair and recline my seat. I look into the rear view mirror to check my hair – which seems to be distorted from all the passion of Josephines hands. My shirt, unbuttoned, wrinkled, and stamped with her scarlet kiss. As I lay down in the drivers seat, looking out my side window, I stop. I stop thinking. I let all the beauty in the world fill up my mind and I just stop. Taking deep breathes I close my eyes, letting Miles Davis take me into the night…