My phone screen lit up and his name came up. Jamie. I sent it straight to voicemail.
Pulling the comforter off of my body, I dragged myself out of bed. The sky is gray and white; to the point where it’ll probably start snowing. It’s snowed a lot since he left. I hear nothing but the cars and the other loud, obnoxious shit that makes the city sometimes unbearable to be in. The thing about living in the city is that it never allows you to have time to just sit in your thoughts. Someone’s loud car alarm is always going off, some bus is always trying to make its way through a double-parked car, and there’s just always someone just yelling or talking way too fucking loud on the other side of these walls. Maybe it’s for the better that I just can’t sit in my thoughts for too long… the last time I did that, I woke up in Ari’s apartment with the craziest fucking hangover.
The last time I did something as stupid as that was just months after Willow was born. The stress of being a new mother and having my entire life put on hold after having Willow made me panicky, so I decided to disguise me wanting to go out and celebrate “my first drink post pregnancy” and just get fucking wasted. Ari was not impressed. I never heard the end of it from her, let alone Max when I got home that night…
The vibration from my phone in my hand jolted me out of my thoughts. I looked at the screen:
Ari: We got another case coming in later today, make sure to make it to the appointment this time, okay? See you soon!
I don’t respond; I haven’t answered to anyone’s messages for the past couple of weeks. I read them to let people know I’m up and breathing, but I just don’t have the energy to cough up a response like “oh-em-gee, life’s so fucking amazing! Let’s catch up with coffee soon!”
I finally get myself out of my bed and walk over to my closet. Another day, another dollar, a new fucking case. My father warned me about this when I told him I wanted to go to law school after my time in college. He swore I was going to stick to dancing, like my mother did, to pursue a career in dancing; just like my mother did. I guess a part of me–although I’ve grown to love her and appreciate her now–didn’t want to become like her. I didn’t want to grow up and leave my life behind for my career. Sure, dancing for the biggest names in the world sounds great on paper, but mom lost so much of her life trying to chase that high. I’ve seen her try to awkwardly get to know me when I first met her when I was 17. I felt sorry for her; that woman thought I hated her for leaving when really, at that age I understood why she did. Dancing was my whole life, and it was hers.
But I didn’t want to become like her. Says the person who left her family to pursue her career in law.
Like I said, my dad warned me about going into this field. One case ends, and another one opens; it’s a vicious never-ending cycle of losing your dignity for a reputation in this field despite what your personal beliefs are.
Maybe I’m good at my job because I’m always lying to myself. Maybe I’m my best client; just constantly have to tell myself a fabricated story and I have to believe it and defend it.
I grabbed a blouse from a hanger and a pair of pants to put on. I look at myself in the mirror, wondering who the fuck I really am. My hair is knotted and dry, it looks like I haven’t slept in a week, and… is that yesterday’s makeup still under my eyes? Fuck it, now it’s today’s makeup.
I grabbed my purse from my kitchen table and head on over to the coat closet. Before reaching for my coat, I stopped and stared into the closet. I slowly pulled out the article of clothing that I’ve come across. Jamie’s hoodie.
I remember the first time I saw Jamie in very casual clothing. It was a different look for him; he’s usually all about business casual and, well, it was refreshing to finally see him in a pair of jeans, sneakers, and a hoodie. A navy blue hoodie. The hoodie he gave to me when my little dress was way too cold to wear in the transitioning nights from summer to fall. He had to have seen it hanged up for him? The amount of times he came over here.
That’s the thing. His hanger was still next to the navy blue hoodie. He was still probably the last person that touched that hanger. Am I really thinking about this man and the hanger he used to put his fucking jacket on? Yes, and I want to cry just thinking about it.
I unzipped the hoodie from the hanger and held it in my arms. The hoodie still smelled like him; fresh and earthy. Sandalwood. I hold it up to my face and inhale his smell on the hoodie. I close my eyes, imagining that he’s right here, hugging me, looking down on me with his intoxicating smile and eyes. His eyes… fuck, those eyes.
I cock my head back towards the ceiling, trying my best to stop the tears from falling from my eyes. I don’t get why my body is reacting this way. I’ve been through this same-old-cycle for years. Kelvin Hanes back in Virginia. Scott Campbell in high school. Spence Wilson in college. Max Harper from the law firm.
Jamie-motherfuckin’-Kim. From the cafe.
Jamie was just different. He felt more than just space in my life. He felt like a necessity, like your wallet or house keys; something that you always needed with you. Everyone else before him were special in their own ways. My first boyfriend, Kelvin Hanes, was just some dumb puppy love in middle school. He kissed me in front of his friends at lunch to prove that we were dating. I didn’t even know we were dating, but I guess we were. It’s funny, that relationship surprisingly lasted longer than I ever thought it was going to be. When I moved to New York with my dad briefly a few years after, we just… broke up. No hard feelings, no tears for him. I guess I just liked him. Maybe I never loved him.
Scott Campbell, in a nutshell, was probably my first real serious boyfriend. I met him when I was in NYC for the first time. I met him in the school I was going to and I don’t know, he was just incredibly sweet. Despite me and my heavy passion for dance, he was always around. He was my first time, my first real date, my first long-distance relationship once I moved back to Virginia shortly after. He was patient with me until he couldn’t be anymore. Sure, that breakup at first hurt like a bitch, but we stayed friends. He’s still the one friend I run to when everyone else in their lives have shut me out. I have a tendency of just tiring people out to the point where they want nothing to do with me.
Spence Wilson, the nerd from law school. He was incredibly smart yet so fucking handsome. He knew so much about everything and anything that sometimes I still wonder how the hell did we work out as a couple through our law school years. Spence should’ve been the indicator on why I shouldn’t date someone within my own field. Too much clashing, and too much work being involved in our relationship.
But then Max Harper came along. I swore he was the one. He once felt different. He made me feel like my voice in the case mattered, he was funny, and if anyone was ever patient with me, it was Max. Max and I had a lot in common; we both come from families that were unconventional; his father killed himself after going bankrupt and his mother lives in a residency to manage her mental illness back in England. I can understand why he wanted to leave the firm after our intern case. He had it hard and I think he just needed some peace in his life. He thought I was his peace. Settling down, having Willow and starting a family; eventually getting married… I sometimes wish I was able to fulfill his expectations of me. All he needed was someone to keep him happy, be a wife and a mother to his child. Even after being madly in love with Max, I still couldn’t be what he wanted. Instead, I just left. I will never regret having Willow; she’s my light, my purpose that I keep going, and my smile on my darkest of days. I only regret not being a good enough mom to her.
But Jamie Kim tells me otherwise. Being the youngest of two older sisters with their own children, he tells me that I’m such a great mom to Willow. He would sometimes smile and randomly take pictures on his phone of me and Willow together. Jamie, the man who held Willow on the nights when I would accidentally double-book our case meetings with the weekends I had with Willow; the thought still warms my heart. Willow, or “little bean” as he used to call her, was comfortable with Jamie to the point where it felt so natural for them to be together. Moments like that are when I felt most like a family. Jamie taking Willow in as much as he took me in was… something I never thought a man would do. Jamie, the man that was in the States working on his own case within his own company, was here one moment and gone another. It sometimes feels like he wasn’t even here to begin with, but I know that’s not true. The pain in my chest, the knot in my throat, and the tears in my eyes tell me otherwise.
Despite being me, the most fucked up and destructible person on this planet, he was here. He smiled at me. He kissed me, held me, made love with me… he fucking saw me better than anyone else in this goddamn life ever did.
Yet life is what took him away… some things never change.
My thought is at a hold once I look at my phone.
Incoming call: Jamie.
I send it straight to voicemail. I hang his hoodie back on the hanger once more, take my coat from my own hanger, and leave home for the day. It’s not even home anymore.