Copyright is held by the author.
LIFE WAS all about changes. Lisa’s life was definitely all about changes. She had worn a retainer and had it taken out. She fell in love with Richard and started dating Robert. She left a good job at a bank to work in a flower shop.
With all of these changes, and many more, Lisa was not certain any motivation was involved or if every direction, action, change of heart was random and arbitrary.
“Will you be home for supper?” Lisa asks, ever so softly, with a hint of optimism.
Courtney, Lisa’s new girlfriend, shrugs at the door as she slips on her sweater and grabs her keys off the hook
“I’ll take that as a yes?” Lisa asks.
“Lots of work to do at the office,” Courtney mutters. “New clients. You know.”
Lisa smiles. No, she doesn’t know. She works part time in a flower shop. She has no idea what goes on inside the bowels of an advertising agency. She always thought businesses should be able to come up with advertising ideas on their own. They shouldn’t have to pay someone. So much wasted money out there.
“I think I’ll make something with chickpeas,” Lisa says. “You like chickpeas, right?”
“Is that a garbanzo?” Courtney asks.
“Yeah. Then, yeah. I like them. Just not too much curry this time. Last time . . .” Courtney runs her fingertips over her throat to indicate that too much curry in a dish hurts it somehow. The heat, Lisa guesses.
“We don’t have to have chickpeas.”
“But you love them.”
“Yes. I do.”
Courtney sighs. Clearly she wants to leave, not because she is in a hurry but to end the insipid conversation with her girlfriend of three months. Both know their relationship is taking some sort of turn, but only Lisa senses the turn is for the worse. Courtney is most likely more resilient in these matters, Lisa thinks, whereas herself can become brittle and crack into a million dull pieces. Pieces of hurt. It wouldn’t take much.
“’Kay,” Courtney says. “I’ll see ya’. Maybe I’ll make it home in time. Should I call you?”
“No. That’s okay. If you’re here, you’re here. If not . . .” Lisa shrugs. If not then I will stick my head in the oven with the gas on, or better yet slash my wrists with that stupid cheese grater you bought me for our first month anniversary because you thought I’d like a kitchen tool instead of flowers.
Courtney is gone.
Lisa makes a tea, reads her Oh She Glows cookbook, and imagines making herself, her lover, and their relationship stronger, healthier just by the food she cooks.
Last year, she turned vegetarian and came oh so close to being vegan. She had to have eggs and cheese, and she could not part with her leather Prada. When she met Courtney at a singles bar for women they discovered a shared passion for vegetarian cuisine. They loved to talk about the evils of meat and those big meat producing corporations that torture animals and barely sustain their miserable lives with drugs and hormone-saturated mush.
Last month, when Lisa moved into Courtney’s apartment she was dismayed to discover her girlfriend had no conception on how to cook — vegetarian or otherwise. If she did not know any better Lisa would have thought Courtney was a full-fledged omnivore pretending to be something else just to attract different lovers. It was always total deceit when Lisa admitted she knew better.
The tea finished, Oh She Glows unsuccessful at inspiring, Lisa decides to put on some Adele and pour a Pinot Grigio. It was only 10 a.m. By noon, the wine was gone. Good thing there’s more.
Adele’s replaced by random indie-pop courtesy of some free app on her phone Courtney persuaded her to download. Lisa knows none of the artists. The wine helps her tolerate the music.
“When did I become a lesbian?” Lisa suddenly asks the rim of her wine glass. “Why did I make such a drastic change in my life?”
The wine glass, full or empty, could not help her with her questions. Getting a glow on seems promising but not very helpful.
She realizes all these are familiar symptoms of a broken heart: wine, moody music, conversations with self. Does she have a broken heart? Do I? She will have to wait for the fever to break, that dull hold of invisible yet tangible heavy weather that fills her chest, lungs and head. She hates this. I thought I was going to love Courtney.
It is time for another change. Avoid the pain, the messiness. Just pack up and go. Courtney won’t miss her. Courtney might even prefer that she’s gone.
An hour later, two suitcases stuffed with her clothes and accoutrements, Lisa picks up her phone and taps in a number she hasn’t used in quite some time.
The rhythm of her heart is changed, changing: faster, almost joyous. She feels a smile stretch across her face. Palms sweat. This is good. This is great. Change is what I need.
A voice is heard answering on the phone. Lisa puts it to her face.
“Hello, Richard? Yes, I know, long time. Yes, yes, I know. Things have changed, you know?”