Mr. Wilson is a big, burly, funny man. Quite charming. I open the door and there he stands – his whole 250 lbs self, dressed in white cotton, leaning against the doorframe. I can’t help but notice the bulge of hair that protrudes from his open collared silk-shirt. Is it a cross or a Virgin Mary that is struggling to be seen through the jungle that is his chest? And of course the “stare”. The not quite smoky-eyed look. He thinks he is sexy, I’m assuming. He’s a businessman that doesn’t need to wear a business suit. The same joke every time we see each other, “Liza-sun,” and gives me a traditional Asian bow. I laugh. Not because it’s funny, but it makes him smile. And his smile is an endearing one. Crooked ever since the stroke a few years back. He always makes off-handed remarks that make me laugh out loud. Not the most appropriate behavior for this environment, but then again if I told you guys like Mr. Wilson came to this place, you would swear I was lying.
Cheri is moving to, what feels like, her tenth place in less than half a year. “I felt like crying this morning as I was packing my stuff.” Her boxes are sorted out into two categories, 1) Further down the road and 2) Temporary. “The other day I had to go through a couple of my further-down-the-road boxes and it was like I’d been shopping! I didn’t know I owned this, that and the other. You just forget because you haven’t seen your full wardrobe in months.” She’s been living out of her luggage since, well, it all started last August. “I went from ex boyfriend to a dear friend’s place, to a new city, to a national tour, to a house sitting situation, and now to a friend’s couch while I figure out my next move. Is this what New York does to a person? “At first I didn’t mind the nomadic lifestyle but now it’s just getting ridiculous. And expensive.”
Merryl’s surname sounds like a producer, that’s cause she is, that’s why I’m not going to mention it here. She’s not conventional beautiful but she dazzles in her own, unique, lovely way. She refers to “the accident” every so often, so I lean in to hear more details when she decides to bring it up again. A collision that left her immobile for months. I can’t imagine what that must feel like; especially for a woman who’s day job is to jet set coast to coast like those birds that flock together to chase their seasonal cycle. I wonder if it’s like being told one day, that you’re handicapped from the legs down when you’re a professional athlete. Or like being told your vocal chords need to be cut and you’re a world-renowned opera singer. Is it humbling? Or a punishment?
A Middle Eastern-looking woman, in a Burqa, stands in the near distance…“That is just embarrassing. I could never wear that. I mean, look at her. She’s a disgrace to the female sex. How do you even see through that? I don’t want to know. And how does she get through the metal detectors? I wonder if they ask her to take it off. Yeah. Not for me. No thank you.
…Oh, that lane seems to be moving faster. Where’s that girl with the hooker heels? Look! She’s passed us already. Damn it. That’s all they’re making these days. Hooker heels. I mean, I rarely buy heels anymore. No, I’m quite comfortable in my Jimmy Choo’s. But I’m not gonna wear my Jimmy’s to the airport. No way. Running from one terminal to the next and – what? Run them to the ground? Who’s gonna reimburse me, huh? You know, they say that each pair is made by hand. Do you believe that? I don’t know if I do but it sounds good…Damn it. So much for having time to walk around.
Caroline has the longest head of hair, a mix of dark brown and grey peppering. She wore it out for the first time today. I share the surprise on my face; I never knew what hid under that quiet bun. I also find myself noticing how much her ears stick out even with the mane flowing behind her. She drinks up my compliments like the driest of deserts to the bounteous sun. I mean, I get it.
I’ve seen her type before. She came out of nowhere. I woke up from my distracted bubble to enter hers with her words:
“Bitch. Freak Bitch. You bitch.”
“Oooh, yeah, this beer just hits the spot.” I can’t remember how Steven and I started talking…something about jobs or beer or how the Red Sox were coming back from a two game loss? What was it? I’m a little tipsy so that definitely doesn’t help with specificity. Well, regardless, what I remember: Steven is a professional bartender. He sits in front of his defrosting beer facing an empty Irish bar, much like me, and yet seems quite content on this Sunday evening. His thick, black-rimmed reading glasses stand out against his white skin. He actually reminds me of a friend of mine from my waiting days. Oh, Jamie, I wonder how you’re doing?