I’m finally in the sales office at the Ramada; I didn’t think that was ever going to happen. The sales secretary job finally came available again for the second time. When I first applied about a year ago, I thought I had the promotion, and was waiting to hear when I could transfer. Then early one morning, when I was working at the front desk, a young woman came in, and said she was starting work in the sales office, and asked me to show her how to punch in and where to go. I got her set up, and then told the night auditor to stay and watch the desk, because I quit. I hopped on my bike, stopped on the way home to get a newspaper, and started looking for a new job. But within a few hours, the front desk supervisor showed up at our apartment, apologized for the crappy way the general manager handled things, and just about begged me to come back. The GM is really friendly and outgoing, but he has the authenticity of a shady car salesman, and this was the last straw for me. There wasn’t anything that could be done to change the job situation, but I went back under a “no-bullsh*t” rule. I became really good friends with the woman who got the job, and when she recently quit, I got the promotion easily. 

I’ve mapped out our living expenses and income, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to have enough to get through this year even with my promotion. Lou wasn’t able to do much handyman work during the school year, so we can’t count on income from that. He wants to keep doing the karate at both the new place and at Duke, since the teachers have different styles and area of expertise. The karate school we both go to encourages competition, both in katas and sparring. I got talked into going to one competition; luckily, my second-place trophy doesn’t point out the fact that there were only two people in my fighting class. Regardless, I’ve improved, and graduated to yellow belt. Our instructor calls me up to lead the class in stretching sometimes, which is pretty absurd, since I am the least flexible person in the room. But maybe that makes me try harder than I otherwise would. I’m not going to be able to take classes very much though, because I’m picking up a second job. I make whatever extra money I can at the hotel. I sometimes work banquets as a waitress, I make the cakes for our monthly employee meetings, and Lou and I refinished some furniture. But it isn’t enough to count on.

Bruce and I still write to each other all the time through my work address. I finally opened up enough to let him know how I really feel, and all the times I wanted to say how much I love him before I got married. I’ve probably over-shared my regrets with him and appear pathetic. I never told him because I thought I’d be rejected and lose him entirely. And because I was already with Lou. But now it is just too late to do anything other than wish I could go back in time.  I think about all the missed opportunities, the missed life.

It just makes me sad and wonder about other things I just let slip by because I kept my mouth shut and didn’t express my feelings.  For years, Paul, from the Odessa staff, and I wrote to each other, and I always thought I would meet up with him again one day, and maybe see if there could be a long-term relationship.  While I was making cold sales calls at work one day, I dialed information for Key West, and asked if there was a listing under his name.  It was a shot in the dark on my part, remembering long conversations about plans for the future. Yet, I wasn’t surprised at all when the operator gave me the phone number.  I sat at my office desk for a while mustering up the courage to call, trying to imagine what I might say, and feeling like some kind of weird stalker for tracking him down like this after not having spoken or written to each other since before I got married. It rang just a couple times before a woman answered, and I asked to speak with Paul. I could hear her hand covering the mouthpiece, although not all the way, because I also listened to her politely call him to the phone, “Paul, there’s a young woman on the phone to speak with you.”  I guess I am a young woman now, at age twenty; when he and I were together, I was still a young girl at sixteen, and he was a thirty-five-year-old man. At this point, the age difference probably would not really matter to anyone, and we could have been a couple. Despite the fact that I’ve been married for over a year now, I was sadly disappointed when I finally heard his lyrical, happy voice.  He was happy to hear from me, happy to learn that I was married and doing well, and happy to explain that he was living the life of his dreams in Key West, and was happily married, with a happy infant son.

Perhaps some dreams die so that others may live.