Friday, November 7, 2008

November 7, 2008--Part One

Part One

Recently, I decided to take all the artwork down off my walls so I could switch the paintings around to other rooms in order to really see them again. It’s been said that you begin to ignore things if you pass by them in the same place day after day. In fact, you may not even notice them anymore.

And so it is with people.

My coworker Mark has always been there—working diligently when I come in for work and pass by his desk on the way to mine. And oftentimes, he’s still there plugging away as I leave for the night.

So it was a surprise one day when Mark came out of the background to show up at my desk with a couple of cups of coffee in his hands.

“Hello, Vivian,” he said. “I have an extra cappuccino here. Would you like it?”

“Um, sure...M-Ma-Mike,” I stuttered, unsure of his name.

“It’s Mark,” he said as he handed the coffee to me.

“Sorry about that,” I said. “I’m terrible with names.”

That wasn’t exactly true. I was fine with the names of people I actually notice, but frankly, he had simply blended into the scenery for me up until this moment.

“Thank you for the coffee.” I smiled, turning back to my work.

After a moment, I realized Mark was still standing there. I looked up from my drawings.

“Was there something else?” I asked, raising one eyebrow.

He hesitated.

“Would you like to go to lunch with me?” he blurted out.

He caught me off guard, considering we hadn’t said much to each other beyond “hello” and “How about that weather?” before. But he seemed nice enough, and he was cute, in a quirky sort of way. Not to mention, I could use a boost to the old self-esteem since Alex had blown me off. So I said “yes”.

Mark surprised me by turning out to be a lovely lunch companion. He had a great sense of humor and an easy way about himself, once he got over the initial nerves of asking me out to lunch. I was glad I had agreed to go.

When we returned to the office, Mark turned to me and said, “Listen, I’ve got two tickets to the Impressionists art opening this weekend at the Bellhurst Art Museum. Would you like to join me?”

“I’d love to,” I said impulsively. Impressionism is my favorite art movement.

Then cautiously I added, “But I should let you know that I’m not interested in an office romance. I just don’t think they’re a good idea.

“I’d be happy to be friends, though.” I offered, suddenly feeling presumptuous. Perhaps he was only looking for friendship.

“Friends,” he said with a look of disappointment on his face. “Sure, that makes perfect sense.”

Ok, so at least my intuition wasn’t completely off. I felt a bit better about having assumed Mark was interested in me romantically, since he was, but I also felt bad for rejecting him. However, the last thing I needed was a messy office fling. Besides, if I were honest with myself, I’d admit that I’m still holding out hope that Alex will call. Idiotic, I know, but I can’t help myself.

I stopped off at a vending machine at my pharmacy to rent a DVD on my way home from work. Those things are amazing, by the way. Whoever thought of vending-machine DVD’s deserves a hug. They’re just so convenient.

I had just sat down with a big bowl of popcorn and was cozying up on the couch when my phone rang. I grabbed it off the base.

“Hello,” I said.

“Hello, Vivian, it’s Alex.”

Well, well, look who finally decided to call.

“Are you free this Saturday?” Alex asked, apparently oblivious to the possibility that my feelings might be hurt that he hadn’t called in the last three weeks since our date.

“Sorry, Alex,” I said. “I’m already going out Saturday night.”

I was glad I was going to be busy with Mark. I didn’t want to seem as if I had been desperately sitting around waiting for Alex to call—even if there had been some waiting in there.

And if I admitted it to myself, it was also true that I slightly enjoyed the little barb of being able to tell him I had a date already for Saturday night.

It might not be pretty, but there it is.

“Oh,” he said. “I didn’t realize that you were dating anyone else.”

It seemed a bit strange that he would be feeling any sort of possessiveness, considering we’d only had the one date, but I didn’t think about it too much.

“I hadn’t been, but when Mark asked me out, you still hadn’t bothered to call me, so I said ‘yes’.”

The words were out before I realized I had just revealed my hand. Damn.

“Listen, about that...I wanted to call you, but my father called me the day after our date and asked me to fly out to South Africa to go negotiate a deal with a conflict-free diamond supplier there.

“I just got back into town a couple of days ago.

“It was a bit tricky to broker the deal, and things always take longer there than here, but I’m happy with the results, and more importantly, so is my father. He’s hired me back on,” Alex said.

“That’s great to hear, but wait a minute,” I said, confused. “I thought your family owned a jewelry store in the mall or something along those lines. Isn’t it a bit expensive to travel all the way to South Africa to supply diamonds to only one store?”

“We don’t own a jewelry store, Vivian, but the entire Hayes’ Jewelers corporation.” Alex laughed.

“Whoa...your family owns Hayes Jewelers—the leading upscale-jewelry franchise in the southwest?” I asked, shocked.

“I see you’ve heard our commercials,” he said, chuckling.

“Yes, we are those Hayeses.”

Wow, I had never put two and two together before. I naively thought that his family owned one, maybe two, shops. It never occurred to me that they could own an entire franchise.

Suddenly, I felt out of my league. Alex wasn’t the VP of some small business, he was the VP of one of the largest jewelers in the country.

And here I am, just some small-time middle-class graphic designer from very humble beginnings. I was definitely feeling in over my head.

“Are you still there?” Alex asked, interrupting my developing self-doubt.

“What? Oh, yes,” I said. “I’m still here.”

“Good. You got so quiet there that I thought I’d lost you.”

“No, you haven’t lost me,” I said.

But I wondered how long that would last. What does a man of Alex’s caliber want with me? Would he dump me once he realized I didn’t come from money like he does?

Why do I have to be so insecure? It doesn’t help that I constantly hear my mother’s critical voice in the back of my head as I go through life. The voice always cuts me down and makes me question my worth.

Will I ever be good enough?

It has been years since I’ve had to live with my mother’s constant put-downs, but unfortunately, I’ve learned to take over for her, and now I continue her abuse in my own mind. I need to find a way to shut the voices up—both hers when I speak to her on the phone and the one I’ve created for her in my head.

Maybe I could use a couple of sessions with a therapist myself. It would be nice to be able to get through a day without all of the self-questioning and criticisms.

Hell, I don’t know what I’d do if I actually felt the confidence I fake every day. How liberating it would be to be kind to myself. It’s definitely something I’m going to work on.

Before hanging up with Alex, I told him that I would call him during the week to let him know if I’d be able to get together the next weekend. I had made plans with Kelly and Kaitlyn to go to the movies, but maybe I could reschedule with them. I didn’t want to put Alex off for too long.

I will post Part Two of this entry some time this weekend. I can't do it now because I keep falling asleep. Sorry about that!


Charlotte said...

I like the beginning paragraph-- so true. I find it a little unlikely that Alex had no way of contacting her-- we are in the 21st century, how long would a quick phone call or email or text message have taken? anyway enjoyed the post, keep it up! :)

mum said...

you keep me wanting more, Ceferian. thanks! mum