“You’re breaking up with me?”
His head hung slightly and he stared down at the pasta plate in front of him, his eyes avoiding mine. “I’m sorry,” He mumbled, shrugging lightly. “I just feel like our relationship is going nowhere.”
I had opted to take the stairs instead of the elevator on my descent down into the ground floor of the hotel. I figured that the extra time lapse between each junction of stairs would allow me to figure just what the hell I was planning to say to him. The stairwell itself did not help ease my nerves; a constant frigidness permeated the air and the walls surrounding me were stark and the color of eggshells. The only comfort I could gain from the walk was the rhythmic tap tap tap of the soles of my shoes making contact with each smooth step. Tap tap tap.
That night was another video chat with Vic. He sat on the other side of the computer, some three thousand miles away in New York, wearing a tight lavender polo and some ridiculous leather bracelet arrangement on his wrist. I on the other hand looked a wreck – as expected, with a baggy tee hanging loosely around my frame and my hair thrown up into a messy ponytail. Victor beamed as I waved nervously into the camera, and his warm expression alone gave me a sense of relief. My best friend could always make me feel better with a simple smile.
My breakfast the next morning consisted of a bowl of lumpy, watery oatmeal from a generic cardboard tub and a mug of cheaply-brewed coffee. I’d managed to scrape together enough money to purchase an equally cheap container of coffee creamer, but even the faux vanilla flavouring couldn’t mask the horrid bitter taste of the black liquid in my cup. I was forcing the last few bites of the bland oatmeal down when my roommate Elyse emerged from her bedroom, the heavy stench of cigarette smoke floating behind her. She approached the kitchen in light, easy steps, reaching for her expensive box of granola from the cupboard and then walking to the fridge for a jug of organic milk. She poured her cereal and milk quietly, almost oblivious to my presence a few feet away at the weathered table. The silence between us was uncomfortable, and after taking another cringe-inducing gulp of the rancid coffee in my mug, I glanced up.
It had been three weeks since my flight had arrived in Los Angeles, and two since I’d begun working for the small university publication press. I’d fallen into a sort of ritual; wake around six-thirty, shower and attempt to tame my hair into something remotely presentable, and slip out the door with a granola bar and a mug of lukewarm coffee. Walking became my primary form of transportation, as I slowly realized the small amount of money I did have was shrinking everyday and taking the public bus system or even a subway required a daily allowance. It wasn’t horrible walking though, as the weather in L.A. was unreal and proved to be a drastic change from the erratic environmental patterns in New York. Many days were blessed with glassy blue skies lined with clouds and I was welcomed to the gentle warmth of the sun each morning I stepped out of my small apartment complex. The buildings, while nowhere near as grand in size as back east, exhibited a different sort of glamour and were built with beautiful soft-colored bricks and stones that seemed to glimmer beneath the rays of sunshine.