Sinking down into the comfortable reclining chair, I slide my feet into warm, bubbling water. Knowing the aesthetician and I will fall into silence after a couple of awkward questions and answers, I brought various forms of entertainment with me.
The busy salon door keeps opening, bringing more customers. They all arrive in pairs or groups. Finally, a lone woman enters. The receptionist motions for her to take a seat for her service. But she replies, “I’m meeting a friend, I’ll wait.” Huh, her too.
Filling the seats around me, these women chat about wedding plans, their children, vacations. Their conversations flow easily and pull my attention away from the magazine I’m halfheartedly flipping through and the Facebook statuses I’m absentmindedly checking.
The Facebook statuses! Facebook documents parties, potlucks, hometown reunions at holidays. Picture after picture shows smiling faces, arms comfortably draped around shoulders and waists.
At home, a recent warm day allows me to sit on the front porch. My next door neighbors walk past. We exchange smiles, waves, hellos. Some of our other neighbors run into them, each holding one of their new puppies. They laugh with the realization they independently decided to visit each other. As they walk past again, we exchange smiles, waves, and inquiries about our dogs. I sort through my mail, hearing their giggles and cooing over the puppies playing in the yard next door.
While responding to email at work, the voice of my newest coworker drifts down the hallway. She and another coworker are finalizing weekend plans. Other coworkers are calling in a lunch order, which reminds me it’s time to eat. On my way to the microwave, my coworkers and I exchange smiles and hellos.
At my previous job, I get an office mate after a year. Each time one of her visitors knocks, it takes me by surprise. I look up and exchange smiles and hellos. Within a few weeks of sharing an office, I catch up on a year’s worth of office gossip.
My graduate school has an office space just for students in my small program. When someone walks in, people smile and call out greetings. We help each other finalize homework between classes at the large wooden table in the common area. We snack on candy bars and complain about the volume of work and the early morning classes. My fellow students plan evening study sessions, dinners, and Melrose Place-watching parties.
During grade school, predicting when girls who had previously talked to me would decide to exclude me again is impossible, better to watch and wait for an affirmative sign before assuming anything.
Shortly after my fourth birthday, my mother takes me to preschool. We have driven by the building many times and I’m obsessed with the indoor slide I can see through a front window. My first day, I’m taken to a large room in the back of the building. The back door to the room leads to an outdoor playground. Sunbeams enter through the partially open door and the sounds of other children playing outside pour into the room. My teacher greets me and suggests I go play, waving her arm away from her desk. I look around carefully and it is not clear where to turn or what to do. All of the other children appear to be engrossed in activities already. The loud noises of their talking and laughter assault my ears.
Squinting to hold back tears, I wonder how everyone else knows each other already.
This post is in response to this week’s Red Writing Hood prompt at the Red Dress Club. The prompt: “We’d like you to write about what your character wants most.”