I am eating a buffalo chicken salad and it is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.
I'm walking through the grocery store when my phone starts vibrating in my pocket. I consider ignoring it, as is my usual routine, but then I remember Andy's request and flip it open instead.
Incoming call: Lunchbox
"Yeah, I know, I answered. Blah blah blah. So what's up?"
"Eh, not much, we're in LA recording and I got a free minute so I thought I'd give you a call."
"Well I'm glad you did. How's Hollywood treating my favorite boys?"
"Pretty well. We've got six tracks done, and another twenty or so left. Then we do the whole 'what do we use' versus 'what sucks' thing, and our job's pretty much over."
"Huh. That sounds good."
"Yeah, I guess. So what are you up to?"
"Contemplating avocados. I've never been much of a judge of ripeness."
"Hmm. You don't want it too squishy but it shouldn't feel like a potato or anything. And no soft spots. You should be good."
"Ahh, I knew there was a reason I've kept you around all these years."
"I guess. I'm not much good for anything else."
This is not my usual Patrick. "Hey, buck up camper! What's the problem?"
"I dunno. Nothing, really."
"Don't lie to me."
"Hey, I learned from the best."
"Touche. But really, what's going on?"
He sighs on the other end, but stays silent.
"Listen, I know things have been rough for us lately, but you can still talk to me. About anything."
"Promise. Even girl troubles."
"That's it, then. What's wrong with you and Anna?"
"I don't know. She's just so weird sometimes." Sometimes? Stop it, Lex. "Like on my birthday, when she totally flaked and then showed up the next day with that stupid ass excuse about work."
"I remember." God, do I.
"Well, she does that a lot. Just goes missing for a day or two and then comes home like nothing's wrong. I mean, don't get me wrong. Most of the time, we're great. I'm so happy with her, and she makes me feel like the most important person in the world. But every now and again, she does this fade thing, and I get the feeling she doesn't want to be with me. And it's killing me."
"Man, girls are crazy. I should know. I don't think you should worry about it."
"I know, I'm probably overreacting. It's just this feeling I get sometimes, like her heart isn't in it. If she doesn't want to be with me, why doesn't she say something?"
"I think she would, and she hasn't because she does want to be with you. Honestly, every relationship has its strange points, its rough patches, the times when you think it's not going to work out. It'll pass."
"Do you ever feel like that about you and Joe?"
What? Wait. What? That totally came out of left field. "Uhm, Patrick..."
"I know about you two. And I think if I can talk to you about Anna, you should be able to talk to me about Joe."
"Uhh. I don't know what you heard, but Joe and I, we're definitely not, I mean, we're so not anything."
"Alexis, I know you hooked up. I saw the way you acted together. I'm not stupid." I'm trying really hard not to sound upset, but I just wish she'd be honest with me.
"I know you're not stupid, silly. But you are terribly mistaken. Yes, we got together. But it was one night, I mean, not even. That was it. We're friends, just like we've always been."
I cannot even begin to explain what I'm feeling right now. "So then what was with the hookup?" I hear her sigh on the other end, and I'm afraid she's about to lie to me.
"I... well, I had a rough night, which you may know about." Do I ever. Anna practically had an aneurism while bitching me out for having Alexis over. "And I needed a friend, and Joe was there. And then, for a second, things shifted. And that was it. The next morning, everything was back to normal."
"Why are you so curious anyway?"
"I dunno. I just figured by now you'd be with someone, and Joe was an easy conclusion to jump to."
"Well, easy or not, no pun intended, it was the wrong one. For once, I'm single and I think I'm pretty happy about it."
"Well, then I guess I'm happy for you. I just can't believe that you've been single for so long. No offense, it's just with your previous track record..."
"Are you calling me a slut? Kidding, I know. My relationship status was a revolving door. And yeah, I had a few flings, the usual. But I'm finally focused on me. I'm even..." She hesitates and I find I'm holding my breath.
"Uh, nothing. I forgot what I was going to say."
Wow, is that a lie. "Oh, damn, the guys are calling for me. I guess it's back to the studio."
"Well, have fun Trick. I miss you."
"I miss you too. Bye."
I hang up and smile as I walk back inside. I think we're finally on track to getting our old selves back.
I can't stop smiling as I check out and walk to my car. People must think I'm deranged or something. I'm just glad Patrick and I finally talked to each other with no awkward silences or angry insinuations. I've missed him.
I'm feeling so chipper that I actually want to talk to other people, so I pull my phone back out and scroll through the address book.
"How you doing, kid?"
"Great. I just talked to Patrick."
"You know? What are you, psychic?"
"Nah, I wish. Pete called me to tell me that Trick had finally gotten up the balls to call you."
"Ha, that's cute. I am pretty intimidating, huh?"
"Easy there, muscles. So how was your little chat?"
"Really, really good. It wasn't awkward, we didn't fight, he even told me about his Anna troubles. It felt like old times."
"Well good. So he told you what's going on with them, then?"
"Just that she does that disappearing thing every now and again. Otherwise, he said they're great."
"Yeah, I'd agree. They fight every once in a while, but who doesn't? Mostly they're just nauseatingly happy. Cuddling, kissing, touching, smiling. Ugh. Grosses me out."
"Have you ever realized how lucky you are that you found a boyfriend who's just as anti-relationship as you are?"
"I know, it's almost funny. We're perfect. So what about you? How many guys have you kicked to the curb recently?"
"Only two. Three if you count Dale, but I don't consider refusing his drunken advances a relationship."
"Yeah. So how's work?"
"Bleh. Kicking my ass. Lately I've been learning the ropes as far as photos go, so I'm there really late waiting on shoots to finish, photos to go through, editing, selection, blah blah blah. But it's still great. How about you?"
"Not too bad. My most recent assignments have been sneaking into bars to check out the underground scene, see what's coming up, what's popular, what's going out, etcetera. A lot of the time it involves getting kicked out for being underage, getting hit on by sweaty drunk people, and hiding from the cops."
"So basically, you're living the dream."
"Yeah, I love it."
"I guess that means you're not going to quit and move home anytime soon, huh?"
"Will you never stop? I might make my way back to Chicago someday, but I'm just now settling in here. It's only been, what, seven months? At least give me a year before I start getting restless."
"Well, you better come home for the cd release."
"Would I miss it? Never. But that's not any time soon, so stop getting excited."
"Oh hell, come home! I miss you. Do you know who I have to hang out with when the guys aren't home?"
"ANNA. She's okay when Patrick's around, but she's such a girl! She made me go shopping with her yesterday. Like seven hours of walking around downtown trying on everything she saw. She made me put on a dress."
"Are there pictures of this? Because if she took at least one, I might just love her."
"There are no pictures. Continue hating. I like you when you hate Anna."
"She's stolen your man! You are so effing dense! Come home and get him back. Like now."
"Okay, you have officially lost your mind. For the absolute last time, Patrick is not now and will never be 'my man.' I can't actually believe you even said that. My man? Have you been watching BET?"
"You know what I mean. Please come home. Be with Patrick. Be happy."
"I am home, I am happy."
"You didn't answer the Patrick part."
"For the love of god, Lucy. Give it up. No matter what we thought we felt in the past, it's over."
"We? What we felt?"
"Shit. He. What he felt."
"You admit it! You are sober and you are admitting to having feelings for him! I am the king!"
"Okay. Fine. But you'll notice I admitted in the past tense. As in, don't have anymore. I haven't thought about him like that in maybe a year, I haven't had the dream in months, I..."
"Dream? What dream?"
"Did I not tell you about that?"
"Uhh, Patrick dream? No. I know nothing about this."
"I suppose we can't forget I mentioned it, then?"
"You're funny. Spill."
"Okay, but you get the short version. If I go into detail, you will never let me live it down."
"This is gonna be good."
"Basically, it involves me and Patrick being married. Okay? But I haven't had it in months. Literally, months. So no talking about it, and definitely NO saying anything to the guys. Or I will come back to Chicago, only it'll be to murder you."
"Lexi and Patrick, sitting in a tree..."
"Okay, this is so over. I'm going to go jump off a cliff now."
"Aww, don't be embarassed. I used to have dreams about Joel from Good Charlotte."
"Loser. Listen, I have to go, I have groceries to drag inside and a very dirty house calling my name. I'll talk to you soon, 'kay?"
"Okie dokie. Love you girly."
"Love you more. And DO NOT mention this conversation to anyone."
"Right." She laughs and hangs up before I can threaten her again. What have I gotten myself into?
Chapter title is, again, from some song I heard last night at Starbucks. It was really good, though.