This is part III of a recurring series on FreshBagels – The Good Life. Check back each week for new installments and let us know what you think in the comments!
The mood was tense, if not down-right edgy. We had just gotten our drinks and through sheer awkwardness and anxiety both of us had nearly downed them all at once. I didn’t want to take the lead, but having called her myself to ask if we could talk I knew it fell on me to get the ball rolling. “So, what have you been up to?” I asked. Jessica put down her mojito, which given my current life situation I knew was a rip-off at $10, and she looked up from her menu at me. “Not too much, just working and trying to get to the gym as much as possible. I think the real question is what have YOU been up to?” she said.
Since I quit my job and embraced the good life I have gotten that question a lot. People stuck in the corporate grind simply cannot fathom what a person can do all day without a job to report to Monday through Friday. My answers varied on the mood, ranging from “killing it” to “just figuring myself out.” Both answers were true of course, but 5 years in a cubicle had taught me to read the room before saying something stupid. “Honestly a lot. I have gotten really good at the guitar – I promise I don’t suck like I used to. I’ve been hitting the gym daily too, seemed like time was really my issue in terms of commitment. And last week I drove down to see my Aunt and Uncle who I haven’t seen in years which I think made them happy” I said. Jessica gave some canned answer about how nice that all sounded, but subtly made clear she was not going to carry this conversation in any capacity.
“Yeah, you know I have just been doing a lot of thinking and writing – figuring out my next move and all” I added. Her eyebrow raised slightly as she finished off that $10 mojito. “Oh, and what is that next move going to be?” she said with a sarcastic smirk. While I knew if this catchup was going to lead to some form of getting back together I would have to show change – but I wasn’t going to re-start our relationship on a lie. “Honestly I don’t know yet. It really hasn’t even been that long since I started this life, so I think whatever I am going to do next will probably happen organically, you know?” She smiled and nodded, and upon seeing the waitress walk by pointed to her empty glass to ask for another drink.
“Listen, you know I care about you and we were doing so well I thought,” she began, “But when you up and quit your job and spent every day like it was a vacation it just drove me insane. I want someone with passion and drive –not a beach bum.” she said. Now it was me who’s eyebrow jutted up as I countered. “I mean, I never had those things the whole time we dated and it never was an issue. You always knew I hated my job” I said. Her cocktail finally arrived, and before speaking she took a long dramatic sip. “I know, but like, you were doing really well at work and you just did your hobbies on the side. I thought that was kind of good enough for you” she replied. “Well it wasn’t,” I shot back, “I was spending over 50 hours a week at work miserable and the rest of the week being angry at how miserable I was at work. I know it seems crazy but this break may land up being the best decision I have ever made.” With that Jessica looked me right in the eyes and grabbed my outstretched hand with hers. “I agree, this break is definitely the best decision” she said.
On that note I started tallying the bill in my head anticipating my exit, because I knew we weren’t talking about the same “break”. The good life has many positives to it – but it appeared Jessica wasn’t going to be one of them. I started drifting away as she talked about things like “growing apart” and “becoming an adult”, phrases no longer in my vernacular. “It’s fine Jess, you don’t have to explain anything,” I said, “this life of bliss and self exploration isn’t for everyone. I have to run, got some beach bum shit to do.” I pushed away from the table and laid $8 dollars down right in the middle of the table. Because being honest with myself, I know I am in no position to pay for this woman’s drinking problem anymore.