January 2006 My last day of work was December 30. I have gotten my severance package, which was quite generous: two weeks' pay for every year I worked at the company plus full 2005 bonus, which, as it turns out, active employees do not get at bonus time three months later because the 2005 results were so crummy. I have some cash. I have savings. I am not going to file for unemployment because I have savings and I don't want to take a handout. Plus it's only $200 a week, you have to pay taxes on it and you have to go to the unemployment office every week and ewww. Springfield unemployment office. No thank you.
Primo left my house a few days after Christmas. Then he flew me to Sam and Nadine's for their big annual New Year's Eve party. Primo is buying a car from Sam. The plan is that he and I will drive the car back to Fairview and I will spend ten days with him.
I am nervous about this. We have never spent this much time together. What if I don't like him after all and am stuck in his apartment until my departure date?
The party is fun. Primo would want me to talk about the Stabbin' Cabin, but I think that's tacky. I will tell you, however, that he and Sam go through a ritual that they do every time they are together.
They weigh themselves.
Primo was a scrawny thing in college. Part of it was that he went to college when he was 16, so he was a few years behind everyone else in growing. Another is that he was just skinny. Skinny, bad skin, brillo hair. Fortunately, those days are behind him and he is a total hottie now, but I probably would not have paid much attention to him when we were in college.
Not that I was the belle of the ball. I was more than a little plump. Bad skin. Well, occasional bad skin. (But it was bad 18 year old skin and occasionally bad 18 year old skin is still better than great 46 year old skin any day.) My hair was always a mess. Here's a fashion tip: don't let your roommates bleach your hair. I didn't have a clue about makeup or clothes. Another fashion tip: beige does not look good on blondes.
OK, some things haven't changed. My sister does my makeup and hair every time she sees me. She always sighs, rolls her eyes, and tells me that I am the hair and makeup equivalent of the fat person who downs two liters of Coke and five bags of potato chips daily. "You just need to do the obvious things," she scolds me. But I don't want Primo to get used to seeing me look too nice. I don't want to set the bar high and then have to do all that work all the time.
Back to Primo and Sam. Primo was skinny skinny and Sam was, in his own words, a bread truck.
Since then, fate has caught up with Primo. He can't eat everything he wants without it affecting him, not even the Dill Pickle Pringles that he hides from himself in the basement so that when he wants some, he at least has to climb down two flights of stairs from his office.
And Sam doesn't eat or drink as much as he did. He makes a real effort to keep the weight off. He was the beer rep on campus (do they even have those any more?) and did a lot of quality control on the product.
So they go into the bathroom and weigh themselves. Primo weighs more than Sam for the first time in his life. He is happy. Nadine and I think the guys are nuts.
We leave Sam and Nadine's and drive the 12 hours back to Fairview. OK, some other stuff happens - we were supposed to visit Mark and Sue but their kids are sick, we stay the night with my friends who live about 100 miles from Fairview and they talk wine with Primo so they are cool with him. We sleep on the six-sided star flannel sheets that my friend's husband dislikes because they are so wrong. I guess sheet designers don't take a lot of science.
We get back to Fairview. I am mostly enjoying myself. I have free time for the first time in a really long time. I have access to a TV and cable for the first time in a really long time. (I do not have a TV in Springfield and have not had one since before I went into the Peace Corps.) I get to sleep past 5:00 a.m. because I am no longer attending a 5:30 a.m. exercise class before work. (Oh yes I did this.) We are planning a trip to Morocco the next month.
Life is good.
Then Primo takes me for a tour of Fairview. And of the neighborhoods where he thinks I might like to live. As in, get married, buy a house and live for the rest of my life. As in sell my house in Springfield, pack all my stuff, leave my friends of eight years, and move. Move.
I have lived in Springfield for eight years. It is the longest I have ever lived in one city my entire life. I have been in my house for almost four years. That is the longest I have lived in the same dwelling my entire life. I am finally in a place where every time I go to the grocery store, I see someone I know. Where I know my way around town. Where I have roots.
And Primo wants me to leave all that.
And OMIGOSH I DON'T HAVE A JOB! I am unemployed. The last time I was unemployed - after I finished my two-year stint in the Peace Corps, it took me a year and a half to find a job.
I feel sick to my stomach. I can't breathe. I start to cry. Well, if I am crying, I guess I can breathe. But I am panicking. Panicking. What if I don't want to be with Primo? How can he be so sure that he loves me (but doesn't know if he wants to marry me) after such a short time? What if nobody ever hires me again? I will die homeless, a bag lady pushing her pathetic little cart on the street, wearing unflattering clothes and a bad hairstyle, just like I always knew would happen.
Primo doesn't know what to do. So he takes me for frozen custard. Which makes me feel better for a little while. But only for a little while.