Thursday, May 13, 2010

9. My Head in the Cloud

I remember the first time he called me. It was a few weeks after he'd been back in London. I had just walked out of my office building and I was heading south on Third Avenue when my phone rang. I checked the screen and saw Cayden's name pop up. (As I'm sure you've assumed, I added International calling to my phone plan). I quickly looked around for a quiet place to stand, but I was in Manhattan, during rush hour, which, come to think about it isn't all that different from Manhattan during non-rush hour. Cabbies were laying on their horns, bike messengers were whizzing by with their bells ringing, and hordes of people were shoving past each other, even though they're all on their way to the same place, Grand Central Station. I didn't want to miss the call, so I just stopped at the corner I was at, 45th and Third Ave, under the blue awning of an bodega that recently closed.
"Hello?" I plugged my other ear with my finger, but couldn't block out the rest of Manhattan.
"Hello, Whitney! How are you?"
"Ah, I'm great! I'm sorry, it's a little hard to hear you. I'm on the street and there are angry, impatient cabbies everywhere."
"That's quite alright. I just wanted to give you a call before I went to bed."
"Just calling before I went to bed."
I pushed myself as far against the brick wall as I could, moving a little farther east down 45th because most of the madness was on Third.
"I'm sorry, one more time?"
I turned to face the wall and pushed finger so hard against my ear it hurt. I tried to hunch over to create a barrier, a haven for the phone. Then I realized how ridiculous I must look to passersby. Like a crackhead with a mad case of scoliosis talking to a wall. (I'm not hating. I actually do have scoliosis, just not quasimoto-style yet)
"Just calling to say goodnight!" He almost yelled.
I was wishing my phone had a record-button accessible so I could play back that beautiful accent before I went to bed hours later. There's a five-hour time difference between New York and London, and it was a pain in my ass.
"Oh, OK. I'll email you before bed. Thanks for calling! Sleep well!"
"Gnight, Whitney!"
I hung up.
I then experienced one of those overwhelming bouts of happiness. The kind that force a huge, goofy smile on your face and kind of take your breath away. You want to laugh. You want to hug the stranger next to you. I looked to my left and saw a short bald man wearing a business suit, sweating profusely and barking into his cell phone about expense reports. No thanks. I never understood how businessmen could walk around the city in the 80-something degree heat decked out in full suit and tie. Here's a bright idea: Take off your damn suit coat.
The sun was still shining and I was practically skipping to Grand Central with a smile plastered on my face.
I was still smiling minutes later as I waited at the 4/5/6 downtown platform, being shoved and smashed between sweaty suited men and women with their shirts plastered to their backs with sweat. This is one of the reasons I loved my business-casual dress code at work. I could wear a tube top if i wanted to, as long as I threw some kind of cardigan over it and a chunky necklace to distract from the too-low-cut-for-work cleavage. As soon as I step out of work, the cardigan comes off. But then again, I probably would have been voted Most Likely to Wear Inappropriate Clothing to Work had anyone asked my coworkers. I think I still rock that title. My "work clothes" and my "going out" clothes are pretty much the same. Don't judge. You try making less than $15 an hour paying $1000/month in rent and then tell me what you wear to work.
The 4 train pulled up and we all shoved in like sardines. This was my least favorite part of my commute because once the seats filled, everyone reached for the ceiling of the train to steady themselves. Yes, that means armpits in your face left and right. I can't tell you how many times I dry heaved on the 4 train.
Every day, three times a day, Cayden and I shot emails back and forth. I'd always have one waiting for me when I woke up, and I'd send one to him before bed so he'd have a morning email as well. If I woke up and didn't have an email from him, I'd know a phone call was on its way, so I'd shower with my phone on the ledge (it's OK. I flushed it down the toilet once and it completely disappeared for 5 Mississippies, but it resurfaced and still works!). Then I'd get ready as fast as possible, make a hot cup of Cuban coffee and sit on my balcony enjoying the sun and the view until the phone rang.
Remember how I said I only understood half of what he was saying in person? Well, on the phone that percentage decreases to about 20 percent. I have to close my eyes and concentrate very hard separating and translating his words. I know it wasn't a different language, but it really was a struggle. The first time he called me in the morning, I didn't want to hang up, so I walked in 20 minutes late to work, but I didn't even care. I was always on such a high after I talked to him.
When I'd sit through my tedious, sleep-inducing, hour-long Monday morning meetings, I only thought about Cayden, and what his next email was going to say. I knew I'd have one waiting for me as soon as the torture fest was over.
"Whitney, the status on your story?" My managing editor and half the room turned to look at me. My story? The story of Cayden? Where to begin.
"Oh, umm, it's on track." I didn't even know what story she was talking about, but that's the answer everyone gives to cover their asses in the meetings.
I'd go back to my desk, completely forget about whatever story I was supposed to be working on, and spend the next 20 minutes reading and responding to his email. When I say we emailed every day, three times a day, I'm not talking about short emails. I'm talking about long, detailed, insightful, informative novels. Nothing dirty or romantic really (aside from a few "I wish we were lying in bed together" comments), just back-and-forth getting-to-know-you emails.
Within a month, we reached 200 emails. (No, I didn't count. Gmail does that for me)
That's when I realized I had completely fallen for Cayden. The Cayden without an accent. The Cayden without an amazing body. Those were now just perks.
I wasn't about to say I L-worded him. I mean, hell, it had only been a month! And I don't know what love is anyway. I knew what deep-down 100% friendship love was all about. I could write a book on it. That's what I had with Will, my best friend of four years turned senior year boyfriend. That was an amazing kind of love, and I still have that love for Will. I always will. But the other kind of love? I know nothing about that.

1 comment:

  1. That's how I feel every time I get off the phone with my boyfriend. :) It's like I go on a natural high and my day is always better (even if it does turn out to be really crappy) if I talk to him in the morning.