Friday, November 11, 2016

The End of Summer

If you had told me that this was ever going to happen at any point over the last three years, I would've told you that the ship had sailed. The sexual tension was just something we had grown to live with. Anna used to say we were "like Ross and Rachel," but I knew this simply wasn't the case.

It was strange that my shirt was already off; not typically how my make out sessions begin. I was surprised that Moose was such a good kisser. He was always so awkward around me, so I assumed his lips would follow a similar pattern. I was pleasantly surprised.

After a few seconds of kissing, Moose guided me backwards and I felt his mattress behind my legs. I allowed my body to lay back and adjusted myself so I was no longer touching the floor as Moose climbed on top of me.

It didn't take long for Moose to start kissing my neck and slowly making his way down to my chest. He was about to take off my bra when I realized I was making a mistake. Kissing was one thing; we both wanted it, on some level, for a long time. But I felt going further, especially with me flying back to California after the weekend, would be regrettable.

"Moose," I said as I put my hands low on his shoulders. He didn't stop kissing me right away. "Moose," I said again. This time louder and without any sort of wanting in my voice. He lifted his head and made eye contact with me.

"I think this is a mistake," I said as I broke eye contact. I really didn't want to stop, but I knew I'd regret it.

To my surprise, Moose didn't argue. "Yeah, I know," he said. "Fuck, I just want you so bad."

I remained silent as I contemplated my response. "We've been drinking," I replied. "Let's head back downstairs."

Moose nodded. I have to say I was a little surprised, and even offended, that he agreed this was a mistake. Since when was Moose so level headed?

I put on a blue shirt from Moose's drawer and made my way downstairs. Moose told me he would follow me in a few minutes. I don't know why, but I took a few steps toward him, got on my tippy toes, and kissed him. It felt like I was ending something that had just started, even though I knew we couldn't really be together.

I met Anna at the keg. "Where have you been?" She asked.

"I spilled beer on my shirt. I had to go borrow one from Moose."

Anna nodded before her attention was drawn to Moose coming back outside. She looked at him, looked at me, and raised her eyebrows.

I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, right," I responded to her judgmental look. I felt bad lying to Anna, but it was best if we just pretended this never happened.

"I would hope not," she laughed. I didn't really know what she meant, but couldn't exactly get any more information without incriminating myself.

We all ended up quieting down and just sitting with our drinks around Moose's fire pit. Everyone was chatting and I ended up talking to the girls about getting together for dinner the night before I went back home.

"Everybody should come," Jessica said, opening up the invitation to the whole group. A few of the guys were for it, but I noticed Moose was quiet. Jessica noticed, too. "What about you, Moose?"

"I can't that night," he said as he looked up at Jessica and then back at the fire.

"Oh, you got fun plans on a Wednesday night?" I asked. I understood that Moose was awkward, but I didn't want him to start avoiding me because of one drunken make out session.

"Yeah, I'm actually going to Westchester that day," Moose replied, still avoiding eye contact.

"Oh, do you and Jacky have something going on?" Jessica asked. I felt my stomach drop.

"Yeah, just a work thing for her," Moose replied. "I'm going to grab another beer. Everyone good?"

He didn't even really wait for a reply before jumping up. I waited a few seconds before turning to Anna and trying to sound as casual as possible when I asked, "who's Jacky?"

"Moose's girlfriend," Anna replied before taking a sip of her beer. She answered the question like it was nothing and of course, to her, it was common knowledge. Knowledge that had no sort of importance on this very night.

But to me, I suddenly felt like I was going to throw up onto the fire. How could Moose have a girlfriend and not tell me? How could he cheat on her with me? Did he honestly think I wasn't going to find out? Even if I hadn't found out tonight, I would have eventually found out.

I tried to keep my cool. I wasn't about to ruin a nice night with a scene and, to be honest, I still didn't want anybody to know about what happened.

I sat around for a few minutes with a fake smile on my face before taking out my phone and ordering an Uber. Moose came back to the circle but didn't even look in my direction, let alone try to talk to me or any of the girls.

"Hey, guys, I'm going to head home," I said as I stood up from the chair. "Super tired, you know, California time."

Everybody was drunk enough that they took this as a valid excuse, even though 1 AM New York time was only 10 PM California time. I said my goodbyes to everyone, including Moose, before heading to my ride.

I wasn't even home before I got a text from Moose. It just said, "I had a great time tonight." Then he sent a follow up text. "Sorry."

I didn't answer. I couldn't and I had nothing to say. We haven't talked since.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Moose's Barbecue

I went to Moose's barbecue with Jessica, Darlene, and Anna. The old group was back together. I immediately felt guilty when catching up with Jessica and Darlene, though. I regularly texted them, but I still felt like I could make more of an effort to keep up with their lives. Darlene had started a completely new job and I wasn't even aware of it, while Jessica was seriously dating an old flame from high school. I couldn't believe how disconnected I felt from everything. I still really missed home, but I did love California.

We got to Moose's house around 8 o'clock, but before we even opened the gate, we could hear that things were getting rowdy. Guys were yelling about something. Once we had a visual, we learned it was over a game of beer pong. Typical.

It had been an insanely long time since I had seen Moose. He had grown out his hair a little bit and had a beard. Moose's appearance seemed to fluctuate with the seasons, where sometimes he looked disheveled and other times he looked very put together. The summer had apparently been good to him. He was wearing a shirt with no sleeves and I could see that his arm muscles were looking pretty large. He had his long hair combed and his beard at the perfect length. I didn't want to admit it, but Moose was looking good.

I knew that he had broken up with Beth, his somewhat serious girlfriend, last year, even though I wasn't sure of their status at my Fourth of July barbecue. I later found out, via Facebook of all places, that they were no longer together and I never really got the details on what happened there. I know they had their problems, but they both seemed pretty committed to making things work. I never really figured out what happened there. Again, I made a mental note to be a better friend.

We all began drinking and I spent time catching up with everyone separate. I got to see everyone on a regular basis when I lived on Long Island, especially right after college, but so many of my friends had different things going on now. One was getting his PhD in Washington, D. C. while another was going to law school in Philadelphia.

Moose and I barely talked all night. I don't know if I was so occupied with everyone else or if he was purposely avoiding me, but the longer we went without really talking, the more awkward I knew our encounter would eventually be. The continuous beer drinking helped.

As the night continued, everybody continued to have more and more fun. Anna plugged in her iPod and I began bopping my head as I filled my red cup up with beer from the keg.

"California has made you a terrible dancer," Moose said behind me. I jumped as I heard his voice.

I turned to look at him and sighed. "Dude, you can't sneak up on people like that!"

Moose threw his head back and laughed. "Dude," he mocked me. "Wow, you are so Cali."

I rolled my eyes before looking down at my shirt. "Well, dude, you also made me spill beer all over my shirt. Not cool." It wasn't that bad, but it was substantial enough to be annoying.

"You're such a drama queen," Moose teased. I shot him a glare, so then he added, "you can go up to my room and borrow whatever you need."

I smiled at that and scurried inside. There was a particular t-shirt that Moose had since high school that I always tried to take from him. It was just of our old school mascot, but I always joked that it was my favorite. He never let me anywhere near it, but now I had free range of his room.

I opened his drawers until I found the t-shirts and then began scurrying. It took me a few minutes, but I found it. I drunkenly began pulling my light t-shirt over my head and then went to lay it over Moose's desk chair so it could begin to dry. As I was doing so, I saw a few framed pictures sitting on his desk. I noticed one, towards the back, of me and him. It was a few summers ago and I'm holding his arm, smiling for the picture, while he's looking down at his phone with a stupid smirk on his face. It was actually a pretty cute picture and it reminded me of the genuine friendship we used to have, before things got kind of complicated.

"What's taking..." 

I was startled again at the sound of Moose's voice, but this time was worse. "Oh," I replied quickly as I held the t-shirt over my chest. I was standing there in just a bra and jeans when I turned to face him. "Sorry, I'm coming right down."

Moose turned bright red and began stuttering an apology. "I just, sorry, um, I'll just..." As he went to walk out, he stopped. Then he turned around. He didn't seem mortified anymore.

"Caroline, you can't have that shirt," he laughed.

I wasn't embarrassed anymore either. "Oh, come on," I replied. I still had the shirt covering me.

He opened the drawer and grabbed a New York Yankees tee off the top. He threw it at me, but I didn't catch it because I was obviously already holding something.

I rolled my eyes again. "Moose, I'll obviously give it back to you at the end of the night."

I felt my stomach flip as Moose walked over to me without saying a word. Once he was standing directly in front of me, towering over me, his voice got deep and he said, "what are you going to give me for it?"

Neither of us said another word. Moose suddenly leaned down and kissed me. To my surprise, I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him back.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Summer of Love

I went on five dates between the weekend I saw Mike and Labor Day weekend. For me, this felt like a ton.

The first one stressed me out. I got to the bar early and while I waited for him to arrive, I texted Anna with complaints.

"Why do I have to do this? Dating is an awkward social construct. I could buy a dog."

All she sent me back was a GIF of Judge Judy rolling her eyes.

Once my date arrived, I felt a bit more comfortable. His online picture was pretty accurate and my initial assessment led me to believe he probably wouldn't try to murder me by the end of the night.

We talked about our jobs, our families, and the activities we liked to do on weekends. Normal first date stuff. He was a nice enough guy, but we didn't seem to really connect. He must have felt that also, because I he didn't text me after that night and I was kind of relieved.

My second date was a disaster. The guy talked way too loud and monopolized the conversation with stories about his trips to Comic Cons all over the country. I didn't even mind this nerdy characteristic, but I was barely able to talk at all. I couldn't wait for it to be over. How did I ever think this guy would be a good fit for me?

At the end of the night, he tried to kiss me and there was an awkward encounter between his lips and my upper cheek. I told him that it was really nice to meet him and I had a good time.

Even though he hadn't picked up on my disinterest before he tried to kiss me, he sure picked up on it then. He scoffed at me before storming off in the opposite direction. I bought myself an ice cream cone for comfort.

I'm kind of happy that I experienced that bad date because it reduced my overall anxiety about the experience of dating. Regardless of what happened, I would be okay.

I guess you could say the third time's a charm, because I was completely swooning over my third guy. The conversation over coffee seemed to flow effortlessly. I felt like he actually understood my weird jokes and I actually felt comfortable telling a few of those weird jokes because he seemed to be my right amount of weird.

The hour we had designated seemed to fly by and before I knew it, we had talked for an hour and a half. He had to head off to work but I walked back to my apartment feeling butterflies.

I felt confident that the universe had rewarded me. I put myself out there and while I expected it to take me longer, things were going to work out for me.

But a couple days passed and I didn't hear from him. I was disappointed, but decided that there was nothing wrong with me checking in with him. Maybe I had done something that made him feel I wasn't interested?

I sent him a silly text about running out of pretzels and needing more. We had bonded over a love of pretzels.

He texted me back surprisingly quick. "Haha, hate when that happens."

Well, all right then. I almost wanted to text him and ask what I had done. You know, just for research purposes. I used to focus on research in my graduate work, after all. Instead, I called Anna.

"That sucks, Caroline," she replied after I told Anna about the date along with my desperate move. "But just think about how many matches you have. You'll forget about him."

So, I went back to online and arranged another date. Summer was almost over and I was determined to make it to a second date with at least one guy.

My fourth date was with a guy named Chris. We made plans to take a walk along the beach.

I still felt like there was something with that other guy, but Chris was nice, cute, successful, and funny.

This fourth date, right at the end of the summer, was where I found true success. "Caroline, I'd love to see you again. Are you free for dinner some time this week?"

He asked me this right at the end of our walk. He didn't leave me guessing. He didn't play any games.

"I'd love to," I replied with a smile. "I had a really good time."

"Me too," Chris replied. Then, I thought he was going to kiss me, but instead he pulled me in for a hug. I reminded myself that, according to research at WebMatch, not kissing on the first date is associated with the relationship going somewhere. I am such a nerd.

Chris and I got dinner on the Wednesday before Labor Day weekend. I was flying home the next morning so I was glad we were able to arrange it. I found out more about Chris, including the exact type of law that he practiced and that he attended improv classes in his spare time. We had another great night together and this time, I got my kiss.

I didn't want to get my hopes up too soon, but I was pretty pumped to be heading home with some sort of success story. Since I already had Labor Day off, I was going home for a week. Moose was having a barbecue and some of my mom's family would be in town for a wedding. There were so many people I hadn't seen in so long.

My sister picked me up from the airport and then I treated her to dinner. She filled me in on all the family gossip. We talked on the phone fairly regularly, but we have a big family so I missed a lot.

The next day, I had Moose's barbecue and I don't think I could have done anything to fully prepare for what was ahead.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Living like a Visitor in my own City

I woke up as the sun beamed through the bedroom window. The sheets felt cool against my bare legs and I began to stretch as I turned to face the other direction.

"Morning, babe," Mike replied as he leaned over and kissed my forehead. He knew I loved when he did that, but not when he overdid it.

"What do you want for breakfast?" He asked as he turned away from me and swung his legs over the bed. He started putting on his sweatpants.

"I don't care," I replied as I stretched my arms up.

Mike laughed. I could never make up my mind.

Twenty minutes later or so, Mike came in with cereal, toast, eggs, bacon, fruit, coffee, and tea.

I laughed. "How much of this do you actually expect me to eat?"

Mike shrugged as the left side of his mouth curled into a smile. "I figured you could just have a little of each, since you can't make up your mind."

That was the type of relationship Mike and I had. We were young; kids, really. While I always thought people only described themselves as kids during their high school relationships, I can honestly look back at my relationship with Mike in a similar fashion. Maybe that's because it was my first real relationship. He was my first true love. I also look back and realize how little we knew about life. We knew so little about love and relationships. I often think that if I met Mike for the first time now, we'd be together. This time, though, it would actually work out.

But all that was in the past. We couldn't go back to what we once were, even if we did get back together. So as that memory went through my mind, I had to remind myself that it happened four years ago. It didn’t have anything to do with the people we were now.

Couldn’t people start over though?

"You're a really great girl, Caroline." That’s what Mike had just said to me before I leaned in towards him. I wasn’t exactly going in for the kiss, but rather giving him the green light. But he returned my “go ahead” with a stop sign.

“Um, I’m going to go find my cousin,” he said before abruptly standing up. I felt like I had been pushed back, even though I hadn’t been.

I took a deep breathe before standing up and walking over to the drinks. Mine wasn't empty but I knew I'd need more. Anna showed up a few minutes later.

"I sat in the bathroom until someone started knocking on the door," she said with a laugh. "I think the guy thought I was doing cocaine when I came out."

"You didn't have to do that, Anna," I began. "Besides, I don't think Mike wanted any alone time with me." Then I told Anna about my embarrassing rejection.

"He was probably just nervous," she replied as she flicked her wrist at me.

After we both had another drink in his kitchen, Mike and Anthony reappeared. I thought this was a good time to go.

"Well, I think we're going to head out. Anna has to catch an early flight tomorrow."

"Oh," Mike responded as he looked from me to Anna, who sweetly nodded to back up my story. Anna's flight was pretty late in the afternoon.

"Can I just talk to you for a second?" Mike asked. Anthony started asking Anna a question as he guided her over to the window. Apparently Mike had an ally in this war, too.

"We're cool, Mike. I'm sorry about before," I began. I thought I could stop this humiliating conversation before it even started.

"No, no, don't apologize," he insisted. "I just wanted to let you know, it's not that I didn't want to, or that I haven't thought about, or that I don't consider it." His thoughts weren't cohesive, but I knew exactly what he was saying. 

He took a deep breathe. "It's just, I started something kind of new back home. I don't know if it's even going anywhere. I mean, it wouldn't even be cheating. But I wouldn't want to do that to you. If anything happened here," he said as he motioned repeatedly from me to him. "I don't want you to see anything on social media in a few weeks, if that even happens, and think that I did something shady. And I definitely don't want to lead you on. I mean, if you were back home, it'd be different. Maybe."

I nodded through all of Mike's chatter. "I get it," I said as I put my hands out and onto his. "It wouldn't have been a good idea regardless." I reached out and gave Mike a hug. It was one of those long hugs that neither person wants to end because you know it might be the last one.

I didn't cry at all that weekend. I didn't cry until I got home from going with Anna to the airport. Everything hit me and I had nothing to distract me. I was lonely here in California. I went from being around family and friends in New York to being completely on my own. I also went from having being with Scott, somebody that I genuinely fell in love with, to having to end things with him.

Mike was a reminder of everything I had back at home. I wasn't upset about seeing him and being rejected. We had closed that door a long time ago. But it was time that I started making a real life for myself here. I had been living in California for about a year. I loved my job and Santa Monica had grown on me, so there was no reason for me to keep living like a visitor in my own city.

I opened my laptop and opened WebMatch. The first step towards my new life was to open up to dating again.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

When Mike Comes to Town

"Interested in showing a poor guy around Santa Monica this weekend?"

My thumb hovered over the keyboard for a few seconds before I even realized that I should ask for Anna's preference. It was really her weekend, after all, and I didn't want Mike overshadowing my time with her.

"Wow, I'm surprised he hit you up after he didn't text you right from the airport," Anna responded. "But yeah, it could be fun."

So I asked Mike what his schedule was like and we ended up making plans to grab lunch the next day. With that, Anna and I collected our things and made our way back to my apartment.

I told Anna about a few of my favorite places for drinks and food so she could choose one. We ended up going to a great Japanese place for dinner and then went down the street for drinks, where Peggy and Shelby met us. This was the first time any of my friends from home were meeting my coworkers, so I was a little nervous. Anna gets along with everyone, though, so I wasn't legitimately concerned.

While things felt a little strange at first, we kept ordering rounds of drinks, making the night a lot of fun. At one point, we convinced Peggy to request Britney Spears and sing it in front of the entire bar. She should have thanked us, because she ended up talking to this pretty cool guy wearing a suit. They seemed to hit it off and he asked for her number before we left.

I woke up feeling slightly groggy and hungover the next morning. Anna was in my kitchen cooking eggs and looking like she was ready to run a marathon. Wasn't she taking shots the night before like everyone else?

"Morning, hostess with the mostest!" She passed me a cup of coffee as I sat down at my small kitchen table.

"Want to do anything this morning?" I asked her as I took a sip. It tasted amazing.

Anna shrugged. "I don't care."

We ended up going to the beach again for a few hours before heading back to get ready to meet Mike. We met at a sandwich place close to where his cousin lived. I still couldn't believe he had a cousin that lived here and it never came up.

I pushed the wooden door of the restaurant open. It only took me a few seconds to see Mike standing there with a tall, lanky guy standing next to him. I immediately noticed he had a tattoo sleeve on his left arm. Mike was so clean cut, so I was surprised to see him with an inked cousin.

Mike greeted me and Anna before introducing us to his cousin, Anthony. Mike pulled me into a hug that lingered a bit longer than I expected. I have to admit, it felt good, though.

We all ordered food at the counter before sitting down at a booth in the back. It was an odd group, but it was easy to fill the time by talking about how Anthony ended up living here, since he was raised on Long Island, as well, and general catching up. When Mike and I were together, him and Anna got along really well, so it was a pretty comfortable environment.

Anthony was having people over his place so he asked Anna and I to come by. I looked at Mike to gauge his reaction. He smiled at me and nodded. He could still read my mind after all these years apart.

Anna and I went back to my apartment to get ready before heading to Anthony's apartment. There were a few other people there when we arrived, but the four of us ended up sitting around in his kitchen for a while, drinking wine from red cups.

Anthony started asking me about things I liked to do around Santa Monica and we talked for a while before he said that we should hang out. He had been in California since college and had a lot more friends than I did. "I know you've been here for about a year, but I'm sure you'd get along great with my friends."

"That sounds great," I sincerely replied. Shelby and Peggy were great, but I definitely didn't have a surplus of friends my any means.

Anthony smiled at me. "Great," he responded. "I'm looking forward to it."

Anthony excused himself to go mingle with a few of the other guests and Anna said she had to go to the bathroom shortly after that. Mike and I were alone for the first time.

"So," I said as I swirled around the liquid in my cup. "Your cousin wants to hang out with me. I guess he thinks I'm pretty cool."

Mike laughed. "Yup," he replied. "Well, you are pretty cool."

I smiled. "I think he was flirting with me a little." I raised my eyebrows at him and took a sip of my drink. I truly only said that to see Mike's reaction.

Mike let out a deep breathe before quickly saying, "well, he's gay, so you're probably right."

I almost spit out my drink before grabbing his arm. "No way," I responded. I mean, it didn't matter either way, but I was totally surprised that Anthony being gay hadn't come up at all during our day together.

Mike nodded and laughed. "Yeah, sorry to ruin your new, budding relationship."

I rolled my eyes. "Oh, please. You know I wouldn't do that to you."

Mike stared at me for a moment and I could tell he was thinking something. I didn't say anything for a moment. I wanted him to be the one to speak.

"I know you wouldn't," he finally landed on. "You're a really great girl, Caroline."

I don't know what it was, but for the first time in a long time, all the amazing parts of our relationship were fresh in my memory. And suddenly, I really wanted him.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

New York Bagels

I stared out the window of the conference room. It was a beautiful day in Santa Monica and while I would have rather been spending it on the beach, I was stuck at work. Pete looked especially good, though. He’d definitely spent some time in the sun that weekend. Staring at him while he spoke wasn’t bad to look at.

Even though I wasn’t at the beach, I was excited for my weekend. Anna was coming to visit. It had been a while since anybody came to California and even though I had been home, it was a different feeling to have somebody fly out to me.

I really zoned out during the meeting and was almost startled when I heard people pushing their chairs out to stand up. I closed my notepad and pushed my pen through the spiral before standing up. I fixed the bottom of my skirt and when I looked up, Pete had walked closer to me.

“So I’m going to be on your stomping grounds this weekend,” he said to me as he fixed the cuff of his sleeve.

“New York?” I asked.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Why are you going there?” Pete told me he had only been to a New York a couple of times. He didn’t know anybody there and never had work there, so he’d only gone as a tourist.

“Just a few things to take care of,” Pete said with a smile. “Want me to bring you back anything?”

“A bagel,” I said before thinking.

Pete laughed. “You love your carbs.”

I laughed as I felt myself blush. “Hey, that’s why I go to the gym 5 times a week,” I began. “Well, carbs, and that I don’t have a life.” I would have never said something so self-deprecating in front of Pete when I first started or even within the first six months, but I had been with WebMatch for almost a year at this point. While I still found Pete super attractive and slightly intimidating, we regularly talked about our personal lives.

Pete knew that I hadn’t started seeing anybody since the whole Mark debacle. I even told him about the whole wedding, even though I was super embarrassed. I talked to a few guys online and had even gone out with Shelby a couple of times, but I wasn’t really getting anywhere. I think I just needed some time to focus on myself.

“Well, I’ll bring you home a dozen bagels on one condition. You have to go to that yoga class with me when I get back.”

I rolled my eyes. “Pete, you can go to a yoga class by yourself. Plenty of guys do it; it’s not girly!”

“Do you want the bagels or not?”

I agreed to Pete’s silly deal even though Anna was bringing me a couple bagels that weekend. Besides, I obviously wanted to go to this yoga class if only to see Pete in athletic clothing.

Later that day, I got a text from Anna letting me know that she had just landed and she was heading over. Then she added, “And you’ll never guess who was on my flight.”

“Who?” I sat on my couch staring at my phone for what felt like an hour. How could she hook me with that text and then leave me hanging?

I finally threw down my phone when she didn’t respond and got up to finish preparing for her arrival. I had bought a bunch of Anna’s favorite foods and cleaned every inch of my small, studio apartment.

When Anna showed up at my door, I immediately wrapped my arms around her and squealed. But that doesn’t mean I waited more than three seconds before asking about her text message.

“Oh!” She exclaimed. “So, as I was getting out of my seat, I looked toward the back of the plane and Mike was there.”

Mike, my first boyfriend, was in Santa Monica? What was he doing here? And why didn’t he tell me? It’s not like we weren’t on good terms, especially after we saw each other about a year back.

“Did you talk to him?” I asked. I couldn’t tell if I was excited at the possibility of seeing him or repulsed. And I’d be lying if the possibility of sex didn’t go through my head. I mean, it had been a while and the chance at familiar sex was something I was ready to go for without a second thought.

“Yeah,” she responded. “I waved to him and then looked for him at baggage claim. He said he has a cousin here.”

I furrowed my eyebrows. How did I not know Mike had family here? He had a lot of cousins, though, and I’m sure one of them could’ve moved to California for work or something.

“Do you want to see him?” Anna asked.

I realized that I had been sitting there processing all this information. I shook my head and focused. “Uh, no. I mean, not necessarily. You told him you were visiting me, right? So if he wants to see me, he can reach out.”

“Right,” Anna replied. “But it’s honestly fine if you want to text him. I won’t judge you.”

I laughed and hugged Anna again. “Damn it, dude. I missed you!”

“We miss you,” Anna replied as she hugged me tight. “Okay, we’re watching Broad City and drinking.” Anna pulled out a bottle of rosé. “But I’m not drinking too much. I want to look skinny tomorrow in my bathing suit. There’s only so much Instagram filters can do.”

Anna and I caught up while we finished the bottle of wine before falling asleep in my queen size bed. Early the next morning, we got ready and headed for the beach.

We spent time laying in the sun and floating in the water. I didn’t look at my phone until we were getting ready to leave around three, but sure enough, I had a text message from Mike.