I don’t even know if it was actually her. My gut says yes, she’s exactly the type of person to pull a stunt like that, but I suppose I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. Mostly, I just want to pretend like she doesn’t exist.
I’ve never actually had a conversation with Gretchen. I’ve heard her voice on the other end of Jonathan’s phone (when he puts her on speaker I feel like she’s in the room with us, watching our every move), seen some old pictures of them on Facebook together, and one time she came to pick up the girls when I was in Jonathan’s bathroom. When I came out, we both pretended like she hadn’t just been standing in his kitchen, like the remnants of her Calvin Klein perfume wasn’t permeating our nostrils.
My opinion of her is largely based on what I’ve made up in my mind. I’ve decided that she gets a gel manicure twice a month, and doesn’t make small talk with the nail technician. I’ve decided that her Starbucks order is a tall, skinny cappuccino with extra foam. I’ve decided that she and Jonathan had loved each other, but that her type A tendencies were eventually too much for his laid-back way of life.
It’s occurred to me that my presumptions about Gretchen aren’t totally fair. But Jonathan has never really told me much about her and their relationship, so I’m left to my own devices. I’m curious about her, this woman that Jonathan once loved enough to marry, but I don’t want to pry; the divorce is still somewhat fresh, after all. So instead, I invent. And my inventions are not always kind.
The idea of falling victim to the “girls hating girls” stereotype is enough to make me pound my head against the wall, but sometimes I just can’t help it. I know they’re not together anymore, but Gretchen and Jon are forever connected as parents. She’s beautiful and put-together and runs her own interior design firm. As a 23-year-old wannabe writer who still doesn’t have her own health insurance, I pale in comparison. Who am I to be a regular occupant in Jon’s bed? To be spending time with his children?
By the time I swing open the door to my apartment I’ve managed to push Gretchen and the events of this morning out of my mind. I walk into the kitchen and immediately put on a pot of coffee before plopping down at the table and opening my laptop.
An application for a staff writer job that I was working on yesterday pops up on my screen. It sounds like a great gig, but I have no experience, and no samples to show them besides what I’ve written on my own pathetic blog. Jonathan says that it doesn’t matter, that I should apply to things like this anyway, but I just don’t have the guts. I feel silly for even thinking I could get a job like this.
I browse some other job sites for a few minutes before closing my computer and heading into the bathroom for a shower. I’m working the afternoon shift at the restaurant today and completely dreading it.
As I’m wrapping my hair in a towel I see my phone light up with a text from Jonathan: “Hi. Are we okay?” He always texts like this; proper grammar, endearingly formal.
I’m still pretty pissed about the whole situation this morning but I just want to forget it.
“yeah,” I type back. “don’t worry about it.”
He invites me to a late dinner after I get off work (“to make it up to you”), and I agree.
I suddenly feel bad for making Jon think that he owes me anything. He’s so kind to me and he was just trying to do the right thing as a parent. I resolve to properly apologize to him tonight.
I brush my wet hair into a knot at the top of my head (who has time for blow dryers?). I recently took a job hostessing at a higher-end restaurant, but with a great lipstick and a little mascara the slicked back topknot look is chic. I quickly do my makeup and slip into a black, backless dress. I begrudgingly pull on tights before shoving my feet in my worn-out black booties (I pack my heels in my bag so I can avoid commuting in them), and I’m out the door and into the blustering wind.