Home > Forever, Interrupted(5)

Forever, Interrupted(5)
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Instead, ana got too drunk at the party, started making out with the guy from the gym, and disappeared for a few hours. this was fairly typical of ana and something that I had come to love about her, namely that nothing ever went as planned. something always happened. she was a nice reprieve from my own personality. a personality for whom everything went as planned and nothing ever happened. so when I was stranded at the party waiting for ana to pop out of wherever she’d been hiding, I wasn’t angry or surprised. I had assumed things might take this turn. I was only slightly annoyed as I rang in the new year with a group of strangers. I stood there awkwardly, as friends kissed each other, and I just stared into my champagne glass. I didn’t let it ruin my evening. I talked to some cool people that night. I made the best of it.

I met a guy named Fabian, who was just finishing med school but said his real passion was “fine wine, fine food, and fine women.” He winked at me as he said this, and as I gracefully removed myself from the conversation shortly thereafter, Fabian asked for my number. I gave it to him, and although he was cute, I knew that if he did call, I wouldn’t answer. Fabian seemed like the kind of guy who would take me to an expensive bar on our first date; the kind of guy who would check out other girls while I was in the bathroom. that was the kind of guy who found victory in sleeping with you. It was a game to him and I . . . just never knew how to play it well.

Ana, on the other hand, knew how to have fun. she met people. she flirted with them. she had whatever that thing is that makes men fawn over women and lose their own selfrespect in the process. ana had all the power in her romances, and while I could see the point in living like that, from an outside view it never seemed very full of passion. It was calculated. I was waiting for someone that would sweep me off my feet and would be swept up by me in equal parts. I wanted someone who wouldn’t want to play games because doing so meant less time being together. I wasn’t sure if this person existed, but I was too young to give up on the idea.

I finally found ana asleep in the master bathroom. I picked her up and cabbed her home. By the time I reached my own apartment, it was about 2:00 a.m. and I was tired. the bottle of champagne intended for our beach rendezvous went unopened and I got in bed.

As I fell asleep that night, eyeliner not fully cleaned off my face, black sequined dress on the floor, I thought about what this year could bring and my mind raced with all of the possibilities, however unlikely. But out of all the possibilities, I didn’t think about being married by the end of May.

I woke up new year’s day alone in my apartment, just like I woke up every other day, and there was nothing in particular that seemed special about it. I read in bed for two hours, I took a shower, I got dressed. I met ana for breakfast.

I’d been up for about three and a half hours by the time I saw her. she looked like she hadn’t been up for five minutes. ana is tall and lanky with long brown hair that falls far beyond her shoulders and perfectly matches her golden brown eyes. she was born in Brazil and lived there until she was thirteen, and it’s still noticeable every once in a while in some of her words, mostly her exclamations. other than that, she’s fully americanized, assimilated, cleansed of all cultural identity. I’m pretty sure her name is supposed to be pronounced with a long a like “ahnuh” but somewhere in middle school she gave up explaining the difference, and so now, she’s ana, any way anyone would like to pronounce it.

That particular morning, she was wearing big sweatpants that didn’t make her look fat because she was so skinny, and she had her hair pulled up into a ponytail, a zip-up sweatshirt covering her torso. you could barely tell she wasn’t wearing a shirt underneath her sweatshirt, and it occurred to me that this is how ana does it. this is how she drives men crazy. she looks naked while being entirely covered.and you would have absolutely no indication she does this on purpose.

“Nice shirt,” I said, as I pulled my sunglasses off and sat down across from her. sometimes I worried that my own average body looked oversize compared to hers, that my own plain, all-american features only served to highlight how exotic she was. When I made jokes about it, she would remind me that I am a blond woman in the united states. she’d say blond trumps everything. I’ve always thought of my hair as dirty blond, almost mousy, but I saw her point.

Even with how gorgeous ana is, I’ve never heard her express satisfaction with her own looks. When I would say I didn’t like my small boobs, she’d remind me that I have long legs and a butt she’d kill for. she’d always confess how much she hated her short eyelashes and knees, that her feet looked like “troll feet.” so maybe we’re all in the same boat. Maybe all women feel like “before” photos.

Ana had already made herself comfortable on the patio, having a muffin and an iced tea. she pretended like she was about to get up when I sat down, but just reached for a half hug.

“Are you ready to kill me for last night?”

“What?” I said as I pulled out the menu. I don’t know why I even bothered to look at the menu. I ate eggs Benedict every saturday morning.

“I don’t even remember what happened, honestly. I just remember parts of the cab ride home and then you taking my shoes off before you pulled the covers over me.”

I nodded. “that sounds about right. I lost you for about three hours and found you in the upstairs bathroom, so I can’t speak to how far you and that guy from the gym got, but I would imagine . . .”

“No! I hooked up with Jim?”

I put the menu down. “What? no, the guy from the gym.”

“Yeah, his name is Jim.”

“You met a guy at the gym named Jim?” technically, this wasn’t his fault. people named Jim should be allowed to go to gyms, but I couldn’t shake the feeling this somehow made him ridiculous. “Is that a bran muffin?”

She nodded, so I took some of it.

“You and I might be the only two people on the planet that like the taste of bran muffins,” she said to me, and she might have been right. ana and I often found striking similarities in each other in meaningless places, the clearest one being food. It doesn’t matter if you and another person both like tzatziki. It has no bearing on your ability to get along, but somehow, in these overlaps of taste, there was a bond between ana and me. I knew she was about to order the eggs Benedict too.

“Anyway, I saw you making out with Jim from the gym, but I don’t know what happened after that.”

“Oh, well I’m going to assume that it didn’t get much further because he’s already texted me this morning.”

“It’s eleven a.m.”

“I know. I thought it was a bit quick. But it is flattering,” she said.

“What can I get for you two?” the waitress who came up to us wasn’t our usual waitress. she was older, had been through more.

“Oh, hi! I don’t think we’ve met before. I’m ana.”

“Daphne.”this waitress wasn’t nearly as interested in being friends with us as ana might have hoped.

“What happened to kimberly?” ana asked.

“Oh, not sure. Just filling in for the day.”

“Ah. okay, well, we’ll make this easy on you. two eggs Benedict and I’ll have an iced tea like she has,” I said.

“You got it.”

Once she left,ana and I resumed our earlier discussion.

“I’ve been thinking about resolutions,” ana said, offering me some of her iced tea while I waited for mine to get there. I declined because I knew if I had some of hers, she’d take that as license to drink some of mine when it arrived and she’d drink my whole damn glass. I’d known her long enough to know where to draw my boundaries and how to draw them so she wouldn’t notice.

“Okay. and?”

“I’m thinking something radical.”

“Radical? this should be good.”

“Celibacy.”

“Celibacy?”

“Celibacy. not having sex.”

“No, I know what it means. I’m just wondering why.”

“Oh, well, I came up with it this morning. I’m twenty-six years old and last night I got drunk and can’t be entirely sure if I slept with someone or not. that seems to be the closest to slut rock bottom that I want to get.”

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