In our last installment, Sara was floating on air after explaining the whole sordid work situation to Sasha Cogan, a supervisor above Steve and the rest of the turncoats in her office. She’d just logged in for a chat with Loves To Cook to share the good news, but what will his reaction be?
To read the entire series of articles from the beginning, click here.
Thursday, 9:35 p.m.
“Oh, hi. Didn’t see you there”.
“So let me tell you about this amazing conversation I had tonight. With my boss’s boss!”
“I was just about to email you.”
“More installments on the Story of You?”
“No. Actually, I wanted you to know I’m dating someone.”
Jeez. It happened, just as I’d feared. He found another plug and play. Fine. Whatever.
“I’m happy for you. Take care.”
I log off before he can say goodbye.
I’m out to dinner with Laura, a single friend who retired five years ago and now lives off her substantial pension. She is talking about the new landscaping she’s having done in her backyard, including a gazebo and swimming pool. “I realized, I’ve got all this money, I should start spending it. My house is paid off, I have no kids, no reason to save it. Might as well enjoy it.”
I know I’ve returned to this topic again and again, and please don’t think I’m shallow, but I am so intensely jealous right now I could cry. Yes, yes, of course I have much to be thankful for: two healthy kids, good friends, a little house I love. But, wow, wouldn’t it be great to have my house paid off? What would it be like to have money to burn? I could hire people to do the work I’m struggling to do myself, and I’m not doing it very well, I hasten to add. Last week, I bought a can of this stuff to fill some cracks in the basement. It’s like spray foam – it actually expands after you shoot it out of the can. Unfortunately, I ignored the warning to wear rubber gloves, and I wound up getting it all over my hands. Nothing removes it, not paint thinner or nail-polish remover or even Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I checked the can and it turned out that I had two choices: wait for it to wear off or remove it “mechanically” (i.e., try to painstakingly peel it off). It stuck to my hands for three days and felt like sandpaper. I actually used my palms to exfoliate my skin. I’m not kidding.
It seems like everything I’ve tried to do myself has ended in an unfortunate way. The picket fence I installed is crooked. The shelf I put up in the living room? Also crooked. I painted the master bathroom and tipped the paint can over. The white grout is now blue.
I still have more work to do, but I think I’m going to have to hire someone.
Sunday, 10 a.m.
I’m now on Craigslist looking for a handyman. Patricia and Laura have recommended their favorite fix-it guys, but I suspect they’ll be out of my budget. I can always count on Craigslist for people who will work for less or maybe even barter. I’ve seen all kinds of creative bartering online people who work in exchange for cars and boats or a plot of land for gardening. I don’t have any vehicles to give away, but maybe I can barter my writing services or even a home-cooked meal or two. I do have an old kayak I could trade.
OK. I’ve got it: “Help me fix up my house! Looking for handy person to help with odd jobs around the house (insulate the basement, clean the gutters, rebuild the back deck stairs). Especially interested in bartering. Can trade an old kayak or PR services, or how about a month’s worth of home-cooked meals? My lasagna is world-renowned”. I reread the listing and hit “post”. I wonder if I’ll get any responses.
Sunday, 4 p.m.
My daughter and Jessie are foraging in the kitchen. I’m nearby in the dining room, and I can hear them talking about divorce. Jessie is complaining that her dad moved to Nevada and that she hardly sees him since her parents split up.
My daughter tells her that at least she doesn’t have to drive back and forth between two houses. “Half the time, I don’t even know where my stuff is,” she says. “It’s a nightmare.”
OK. I can feel that knot in my stomach. My daughter has pressed my guilt button, firmly. Before I start kicking myself, I should remember that my kid has always been a very attentive and empathetic friend. She may be saying this just to make Jessie feel better about the fact that her dad lives across the country.
Sunday, 10 p.m.
I was flipping channels in search of something to watch before I fall asleep and found Hung on demand, the show about a divorced dad who markets his, ahem, assets in an unorthodox way. I find it intriguing, the whole idea of having some fun without the complications of a real relationship. It’s been so long, I barely remember what fun feels like. I miss it. Frankly, I think I crave that more than a serious relationship right now.
Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.
Her novel, Wife Living Dangerously, is now available. Click here to read the previous installment of “Single in the suburbs.”