Tracy’s life is set to start in four months if her parents have anything to say about it. In the fall, her perfect job begins and she’s racing the clock to figure out if this life that her parents have laid out for her is what she really wants. A part time job right out of college might end up being the perfect distraction – a new city, a new group of friends and these final four months before she’s strapped into a business suit and a life of crunching numbers might be exactly what she needs to figure that out.
Glitter, Glitter Everywhere
The depth of the track my finger has left in the glitter is not surprising. It’s everywhere: the floors, the couch, the baseboards and in one disconcerting spot directly next to headboard of the bed. If I move into this tiny studio apartment, it is going to inevitably be all over me as well. And except for the counter top, which only has a solid layer of sparkle, the kitchen seems to be the only small section of the place that is not only covered in glitter but also cat hair.
Clearly, the previous tenant did not clean before she left.
But I can’t deny it: under the glitter and cat hair are fixtures and furniture in moderately good repair. And the price is really working for my suffocating budget. Plus, there are hardwood floors and a surprising amount of light coming in through the windows over the bed. It’s cozy for all that my one suitcase and a single trip to Target for accessories will make it seem cluttered.
It will be better than sleeping on Shelly’s couch. Mom did me a real favor by setting me up with her college roommate but the woman has a life of her own.
On the inside, I get why she made the call. When she and Dad figured out that I was really going to live up to my promise to get the heck out of Dodge by the first of June, she didn’t want her precious little girl moving to the big city by herself. A few phone calls later and I had my own personal tour guide of the city for a day and a couch to sleep on for a few weeks while I looked for a permanent place to stay and a job.
I have a job. It just doesn’t start until September. My college counselor has reassured me that this is becoming normal. Big firms like the bank that hired me are doing more and more of this contracting pre-job starting. For a while, it was just law firms that were doing it. They’d hire a law student fresh off graduation with the promise that their contract would start in October or November to save a few months of salary. Now it’s everywhere. That’s where the economy has gone. So, I have four months.
Maybe the glitter is a sign. Four years of college and three of them spent living with the most glitter-obsessed sister of AlphaChi, who I hated that first week and wept over ten days ago at graduation, prepared me for this kind of living situation, right?
I really don’t want to have to pay to have this place cleaned though. And I can tell from the way that the landlord refused to meet my eye when I asked about pre-move in services that he’s going to try and pull something on me. Maybe I can charm him. My teeth may not be perfect and my eyes are different colors, but my hair bounces and the dimples stand out. The glitter-obsessed Gloria always said I had the kind of smile that made knees melt.
With my best Kelly Kapowski impression firmly in place, I spin with a clap towards the landlord, shocking his eyes up from my hips to land on my beaming smile. I can’t help but think to myself, “Please work. Please, please work.”
“I love it,” I say. “When can I move in?”
His smile has a touch of leer in it, but at least I can tell he’s trying to rein it in. I don’t really care. Flirtation I can handle.
“Honey, you can move in tomorrow if you can put down the deposit and your credit check is acceptable,” he says with a smirk, eyes now glued to my chest.
I shuffle the papers in my hand and reach out with a smile.
“Um, I’m allergic to cats so…” I let my voice trail off hesitantly and twist my lips with worry.
He doesn’t seem to hear me. His eyes are perusing the documents I’ve handed to him, and while he doesn’t dwell on the more complicated sections of the form, I can tell from the sheer speed with which he reads it that the finer points of my perfect credit are lost on him.
I sneeze delicately but with power and sniffle into a tissue.
“You got a cold, honey?” he asks gently.
I respond with a wane smile.
“No, no,” I mumble. “It’s the cat hair. I’m allergic. You’ll take care of it, right?” I ask the last quietly, making a little wish that my subterfuge works.
Arnold looks around with a faint blush of embarrassing creeping up his neck that he quickly covers with his hand before attempting to skirt my question.
“Well you’ll want to do that yourself, right? Put your mark on the place?” he asks.
I cough loudly before responding.
“Oh no, I couldn’t,” I say. “I’d pass out after a few minutes of mucking up the dust and cat hair. I would so appreciate it if you could get it all settled for me. I can’t tell you how horrible it was moving into the dorms last year. It was awful.”
His eyes spark with concern and with a quick nod, I know that the apartment will be spotless by the time I move in over the weekend. It’s not the perfect location but it will do.
I have four months of freedom to figure out what I really want. I won’t have to answer nosy questions about my whereabouts. I can put whatever I want on the television. And I can have popcorn and soda for dinner if I want. These are the true signs of adulthood, right?
I’ll have four months to make a few friends that actually care about what I’m thinking and feeling and not just about how I can help them in the office or impress their friends and spouse in the social world.
I’m so tired of the networking and the falseness of the entire system that I almost can’t wait for the job hunt. I almost can’t wait to be waxing philosophically with customers at a bar and co-workers in the kitchen.
It’s a little scary. It’s a little intimidating. But I’m going to make it work.
Cover art for Headed towards the Right Decisions was created by Maritza Lugo.