Around two P.M., I got a call from Charlie.
“Hey dude,” I said, leaning back in my office chair. “What’s up?”
“Hey, I got a call from Eloise. She said that you’re not returning her messages and she’s really worried about you.”
I rolled my eyes. Jesus, Eloise. Can you give it a rest?
“I blocked her number from my phone. That’s why I haven’t been returning her messages.”
I could hear him release the longest sigh in the world. I couldn’t blame Charlie for being frustrated. After all, I was the one putting him in the middle of all of this. He had been our mutual friend since high school, but he had been my best friend for longer.
“Juniper, can you just…not make this harder than it has to be?”
“I’m getting a divorce, Charlie. Things are supposed to get worse before they get better.”
“Yeah, but there’s that reunion tomorrow night, and the fact that all of your s**t is still at your old house.”
“Oh yeah, that reminds me. Can I borrow one of your sport coats tomorrow? I’m going to actually wash my clothes.”
“I can lend you a sport coat, yeah, but uh, you need to get your shit.”
“I know I need to get my shit.”
“You need to get your s**t, get it in a bag, and get it all together. I’m cool with you living with me for a while, but I am not okay with being caught in a nightmare game of phone tag between you and Eloise.”
“I know, Charlie. I’m sorry. I will probably stop by after work tonight. First I’ll swing by the apartment and drop off my backpack with all my work stuff.”
“Sounds good. Thank you. Oh, also, can you stop by Whole Foods on the way home? We’re out of soy milk.”
“Ugh, Whole Foods? Can’t I go to Target?”
“If Target has soy milk, yes. I need soy milk. Light kind, with the vanilla flavoring.”
“The kind that tastes like actual milk, right.”
“I can’t believe they still sell soy milk without the vanilla. How do people drink it? It’s just nasty bean water. It’s coffee without the benefits of caffeine.”
“Charlie, I have to get back to work.”
“Oh! Right, sorry. Love ya! See you tonight.”
I hung up the phone and let out a shaky sigh. Then I opened up my contacts list and scrolled through for Eloise. I unblocked her, and the texts and calls came flooding in. Twenty-six messages, three voicemails.
“I don’t know what I did to deserve this, Juniper.”
Juniper is my full first name. Most people call me June though, and only use the full thing when they’re being serious.
“Please, can’t you just call me? Can’t we talk about this?”
Jesus. No, Eloise. We can’t talk about this. You refuse to grow up. You refuse to be independent. You want to f**k up, and let me fix it, over and over again. The night I left, I wanted to tell her that somewhere along the line, I had stopped being her wife, and became her caretaker.
Eloise is the type of person who will try to do nice things for you, but end up creating trouble. Just last month, she decided that she was going to make a romantic dinner for us. Now, we both know that she’s not the best cook. I expected her to whip up some spaghetti and meatballs. Jesus, I wished she stuck to store-bought spaghetti and meatballs. Instead she came home with expensive vegan filets from The Herbivorous Butcher and some bizarre wild mushroom mix. She insisted that she would make vegan Beef Wellington and ended up scorching every pan that we had. One of the kitchen curtains caught on fire. What was supposed to be a romantic evening ended up being yet another goddamn nightmare. As the fire department examined the damage, I helped myself to cold pizza from the fridge. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes as she cried on the phone to our insurance agent about the whole debacle.
Like I said, this wasn’t a one-time thing. She f****d up on the regular. When you’re younger, you think it’s cute and endearing. Oh, she’s a klutz, but at least she loves me! She tries her hardest to do nice things for me! When you’re twenty-eight years old like I am, you want someone whose messes you don’t have to clean up. You want to be able to come home and relax, not scramble around and put out fires. You start to wish she wouldn’t do nice things for you. In fact, you pray she doesn’t try. She doesn’t understand that big romantic gestures are obnoxious, and overwhelming—and the thing is, she’ll never learn.