“C’mon, dude…I’m bored off my ass. I’ve got three weeks to kill before I start my new job, and I’m not going back to Austin ‘til next week. I’ll take you to Bar Lucrat for dinner. My treat. Buzz me in.”
I arrive unannounced at Cheney’s studio apartment in Loring Park. It’s an ancient brick building that was a hotel in its prior life, evidenced by the sealed-off dumbwaiters outside each apartment. It’s 5:30pm and I know she’s only been up for a few hours. The buzzer shrill releases the door and I walk the green-carpeted flight of stairs to her apartment.
I’ve been friends with Cheney ever since we met in a magazine writing class two years ago. She’s in her late 20’s, thin and a head of dark hair down to the middle of her back. More than a few people have told me that her dad was a Skull and Bones member, or “Bonesman,” at Yale. No one ever asks her about it, though.
I want to take her to dinner because she told me that she’s been out of work so long that unemployment has become an entity a lot bigger than she is…she feels powerless against it. She’s maintained a well-paid freelance gig, but the editor has been less than excited about her recent pitches. It’s nothing that a plate of thick pasta and bottles of red wine won’t cure.
We hug and I’m quickly re-introduced to Cheney’s minimalistic studio décor. A box spring and mattress with un-made sheets sits at an angle in the corner. A broken two-speaker guitar amp from two boyfriends ago serves as a nightstand. Along the opposite wall is a door set atop two sawhorses – the result is a giant desk covered with magazines, notebooks, candles, printer and her laptop. I don’t think she’s owned a T.V. since college.
Accent lighting dimly lights her apartment, like a Party of Five scene in the Salinger house. It makes the place feel warm despite the frost-covered windows. Scattered clothes and shoes are like tiny islands on the wood floor. I tell her about my new job, although I hold back a little given her unemployment. It’d be like telling a starving person about the amazing ice cream you just ate.
She says to grab a Corona from the fridge while she puts on some make-up. The exterior of her fridge is just as bare as the rest of her apartment – no photos, overdue bills or other reminders of life. There’s just a picture of Megan Fox torn from a magazine and a scribbled napkin hanging by a P.J. Harvey magnet. Upon closer examination, it reads:
I gathered up all doubt, loneliness, fear and unemployment.
I wrapped it up and gave it to God.
It was tight like a ball of rubber bands.
He held out his hand, smiled and said,
“I’ll take that from you forever. Keep praying
And your life will be amazing.”
As if she senses I’m reading it, she yells from the bathroom that it was a dream she had last month. She immediately sat up and wrote it down so she would never forget it.
She emerges from the bathroom patting her pockets, searching for her keys. I hand her the Corona and she finishes what’s left in three swigs.