“I mean, how often do you get an opportunity like this?”
One thing I loved, and hated, about Kara, she always did her damndest to fix your problems, even if you had no desire whatsoever to fix it.
I know this about her and is probably why, subconsciously, I told her about my current predicament. In my mind I wanted someone to listen to me complain, to have a sounding board, just to vent.
But no, I asked my one friend that can’t leave a problem untouched. I could have asked anyone else close to me, and I could have screamed it into the void of a caring face.
I asked Kara.
I barely got the thought out before her mind was working up ways of fixing it, of talking me off the ledge, of convincing me how stupid I was, and to do what she thought was best.
“Can we at least wait until our drinks are here before we get into it?” I said.
“If you wanted to wait, you shouldn’t have told me all about it on the walk over here.”
She’s right. I did spill the beans not five minutes after we met up outside of her apartment. We had texted back and forth for a week to set up drinks after work, and when we finally got together I was about to explode. It didn’t help that we walked around midtown for 20 minutes trying to decide which bar we wanted to go to.
Kara is a bit of a partier. Nothing bad, but she can hold her liquor, and does so two or three nights a week. She had an opinion on every bar we walked by until we got to one that was acceptable.
“One Henricks and soda and one Evan Williams and Coke.” The bartender said as he set our drinks down.
“How much do you make now? I think you can afford to buy whiskey that sits on a shelf. Evan doesn’t even get shelf space,” I said.
“Don’t be hating on my good friend. Evan and I have history together. And when you drink as many of these in a week as I do, you don’t want to spend $12 a pop for something that only tastes marginally better.”
“How do you not have diabetes drinking so many Cokes?”
“Look, I do three things with my week: hunt for young blonde men, workout, go to work. In that order.”
“At least you know yourself. Any current young blonde men in your life?”
“Not at the moment. Stop trying to divert from the issues at hand! You have your drink, so now I get to say my piece.”
When Kara is aware of a problem, she can’t let it rest – and I know her argument, but sometimes you have to hear it to understand it.
“OK then. Give it to me.” I said.
She took a deep breath, looked me straight in the eye and said: “You’re a fucking idiot” and took a long sip of her drink.
“Ouch. I’m glad I waited for the gin. A bit harsh.” I said, taken back but also appreciating it, a bit.
“You do the same shit over and over again. You meet someone, you get all hot and heavy a little too fast, and one of two things happen.”
She takes another sip, she’s already halfway through.
“One, the relationship goes on for way longer than it needs to. You get to the point – like you were with the one from high school – where, by the end of it you’re saying it should’ve been over two years sooner.”
“OK, yeah. And two?”
“Or two, you end up heartbroken and depressed for a few months over someone who wasn’t worth your time in the first place. And look, I know I’m not the poster child for relationship advice; I haven’t had a serious boyfriend since high school. But this is easy to see from the outside looking in.”
She’s right. That has been my M.O. in the past, except for maybe one or two in college.
“So what do I do then?”
“Seriously‽ Are you kidding me‽ You’ve wanted this or something like it since we were in college. I thought you were crazy for even trying. And now you have the chance to achieve a huge fucking dream, and you are wavering over it?”
She finishes off her drink and sets it on the inside of the bar so the bartender can see it.
“And to be honest, it fucking pisses me off you even have to stop to think about it. Fuck buddies come and go. And yes, so do jobs, but not jobs like this. Not jobs you have wanted for over a decade, maybe more.”
I could tell she was starting to feel a buzz. When she gets fired up and has a drink in her, she cusses like a sailor.
“One more please.” She says to the bartender.
“Yeah but this one feels different. What if taking this job ruins it, and it could be something? I don’t want to be 50, alone, and only have my career to show for it.”
“You’re still young. There’s plenty of time to meet people between now and 50. If it’s meant to work, it’ll work. If it doesn’t work, it saves future you the heartache.”
“What about leaving you and everyone else behind?”
“You aren’t dying. You will eventually come back, and you will still communicate with everyone.”
I take a long sip and finish off my gin and soda. I’ll miss Hendricks when I’m gone.
“Right? You’ll still communicate with everyone… I know it’s not as easy as just texting or calling me up, but it’s still a possibility, right?”
“Well, the texting part will be almost as easy, with a delay. But, it won’t be the same as a face to face conversation.”
“Yeah but how often are you really talking to your family in person? Same with some of our friends. I rarely see some of them at all except for their Insta pics.”
“True, most of them I rarely see in person anymore,” I nod to the bartender for another drink.
“What are you so afraid of?”
“I don’t know. The regular stuff, you know.”
“No, I don’t know.”
Baited. It annoys the crap out of me. I’m just giving her ammo to more strongly prove her point.
“Oh, come on.”
“Tell me why you’re so afraid of something you’ve been waiting for, working your ass off for. A job that most people would kill for. Hell,” she whispers, “someone may have killed to be in your position.”
She stops and dramatically looks over my shoulder.
“Actually, you should probably watch your back. That, I guess is a legitimate fear, and I’ll give you that one.”
“You know, the usual stuff.”
“What usual stuff?”
“I’ve wanted this for so long – it’s such a big dream – accomplishing it is scary. And failure. What if I get there and can’t handle it? What if I wash out and have to quit?”
“Failure? Really‽ They know it’s hard. They wouldn’t have recruited you if they didn’t think there was a possibility of you making it through.”
“Yeah, but it’s all still scary as hell.”
“Yeah, well, life can do that sometimes. I'm going to get a little philosophical on your ass.”
She takes another long drink.
“Life is scary as shit, but you’re the result of a long line of survivors. You wouldn’t be here today if someone, in the generations before you, hadn’t survived. Thousands and thousands, hell maybe millions of people, have survived for you to be here right now – don’t let all that survivor-ing go to waste.”
“I must be drunk, that sort of makes sense.”
“Damn right it makes sense. You got here somehow.”
“That’s true. I get everything you are saying, but I’m still scared shittless of going. I mean, yeah sure I’ll likely survive, but it’s not any less terrifying. And you know there is a possibility I won't survive.”
“Maybe what I’m getting at is, you and I, we’re survivors. There’s courage in us, and courage has spread through the people who’ve come before us. Courage is contagious. One person in a room starts acting like a little bitch in a horror movie, and you know the bad guy is going to come in and get everyone. But when one person starts talking like a badass, all of a sudden the bad guy is going to have a bad day.“
“Plus, I need the bragging rights. I need to tell people ‘Hell yeah my best friend is a badass!’ I’m going tell every guy in the bar.” She smirks, “At least do it so I can get laid.”
“Why didn’t you lead with that? I’m sold.”
“Best friends are supposed to help each other get laid.”
“You know this is just an invitation to the join the training program. I have to get through everything first.”
“Well, what the hell are you doing sitting in this bar drinking? Shouldn’t you be out there running and doing push-ups or something?”
“The worst thing that can happen is you get there, you realize it’s not for you for whatever reason, and you come back here. We sit at this bar and have a drink, and you tell me all about it. That doesn’t sound too terrible to me.”
“So that means you’re taking it right? Are you going to tell the boo about your decision?”
“In time. It’ll work or it won’t. I’m not going to let it get in the way of your bragging rights.”