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Khloe In the City Chapter 2

Another day in the life of Khloe…

A week in and I am still struggling with the time difference. Sitting on the edge of the hotel bed, I sit staring off into the distance wondering how I am going to function through this week in NYC. Ten days is way too long to put my life on pause after a catastrophe as soul-shattering as this breakup. The good thing about training in NYC is that I am so busy that I don’t have that much time on my hands to really think about things. I have waves of emotion come and go. This place has a completely different atmosphere than San Francisco, and with that distraction, I have noticed that the pain is lessening, as well as the shock. However, with that, the anger is increasing. I suppose anger is a good thing to be feeling. It feels better to be mad than wanting to pull the covers up and hide for a few years. I have a full day today at the office and then meeting up for drinks after.

My schedule is jam-packed with client meetings all days and times, as I learn more in meeting people after work than I do in training. Finance has always been more about what happens outside of the office, and these connections are vital in order to succeed in my career. I look at the suitcase wondering what the hell to wear tonight when all I want to do is climb into a hole and hide. I decide I can handle it and dress up. I select the really short and tight black dress. I am pretty sure I am looking for revenge. I imagine the makeup I am applying as a sort of warpaint, pumping me up to survive the evening in one piece.

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I meet with a few Wall Street peeps at the current watering hole Pound and Pence. Currently, I count five males and three females up at the bar, I tend to notice these kinds of things to help prepare me for what to expect. I haven’t really clicked with anyone here in particular, so this should be interesting, but I have no choice but to play nice. I dutifully order my usual drink: vodka, club soda with a lime. This is the perfect drink, as it has low calories and does the trick nicely. One of the women, Natalie, has no respect for personal boundaries. She is always in your face and in your space. She is the first to approach me and I back up a bit as Natalie looms in. She steps even closer, clearly not getting the hint, and increasing in volume as she waves her arms around dramatically to enhance her storytelling. I have this theory that some people just like to hear their own voice. 

Doug is standing next to Natalie, out of the splash zone and drinking his old-fashioned. One could say he is the classic “know it all”. He has the answers for EVERYTHING, including topics you never dreamed you could care about. He spends the next five minutes sharing his humble opinion on how NYC is superior to SF. Can’t say I am feeling warm and fuzzy with him or the topic of conversation. And then there is Tim, the “one upper”. You know the type, they take over the conversation with something better or worse than you. I feel this is a sport for him. Maybe there is a medal for “one-upping”. Tim is very short and compensates by wearing lifts in his shoes. Standing next to him he is a full head shorter than me which makes for awkward eye contact. He has small beady eyes, the kind you don’t want to look at for too long. His teeth are unusually white as he interrupts anyone and everyone with his own ‘better’ version of their original stories. His behavior totally reminds me of the SNL skits with Kristen Wiig where her character Penelope is always trying to one-up everyone. “I did this amazing thing, Oh yeah? Well, I did this amazing thing even better… so?” I could see him twisting his hair just like Penelope if he had any. What is everyone trying to prove anyway?

It all seems like a bit of a show and I tend to find myself observing more than interacting. No one seems to notice. Perhaps they are too busy focusing on themselves. I silently wonder how long I have to stay before I can go back to the hotel and take a bubble bath and turn in. I can’t seem to get into the east coast time zone. I don’t know if I am exhausted or just plain overwhelmed in life. The one thing that seems to be untouched is my work. This is where I excel and feel good. I wouldn’t say I actually enjoy my work, but I know how to do it well. I was able to advance several positions in the last two years, a record to date with the company. I think people are shocked by the amount of drive and ambition I have at my age, let alone that a blonde can be that intelligent. It has been a couple of hours and I feel confident I can sneak out and head back to the hotel. 

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On my way “home” I walked by this Mexican Restaurant, Mexicue. It looked so amazing I turned around and went back in.  I order the strangest combination, rose and the ceviche nachos. OMG!!! These are amazing!! I am definitely coming back AND they have takeout! Perfect for the slightly anti-social. 

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It’s a Beautiful Day by U2 is playing at an unusually loud volume. I slowly realize that this song is actually my alarm going off, and yet again it is 5 AM. This has to be a cruel joke. Tired doesn’t begin to describe how I am feeling. NYC is many things, but quiet is not one of them. 24/7 there is noise all around. There is a dull ringing in the hotel that won’t stop. I try to figure out where it is coming from to see if I can silence it; the bathroom, the living area and the sleeping area. I was so desperate last night I grabbed the earplugs the airline gave me red-eye flight. In desperation, I was willing to do anything to help lessen the noise so I could sleep. Do you know what happens when it is loud enough to keep you awake? You spend hours thinking about everything in your life that is going wrong. All I was able to focus on was how I will face the fact that Ryan is really gone; and how to find a way to move on.

So now I sit listening to the music trying to decide if another ten minutes is worth it. I start to go through my morning routine to see if I can shave some time off by eliminating items. Teeth, too important. Shower, that needs to happen as well. I finally give up my bartering mind banter and fling the sheet off me. I ignore the immediate coldness created by the absence of the blanket and get up out of bed. The only thing that I can use as a reward is the promise of heading down the street to pick up the best coffee. NYC does not seem to have the same love affair with coffee as the West Coast. I am not sure why this is, perhaps California has more coffee snobs. I have tried so many different coffee places here and have been repeatedly disappointed. I accidentally walked down a side street and noticed a coffee shop with a sign out front that said, “Birch loves you”. I don’t know if the coffee really loves me or not, but in a city that could use some love, I decided to go on in. The coffee shop was small and had a cool vibe. There was a really long bench table in the middle and seating all around the shop. I ordered my usual Americano and waited for the barista at the counter. They encourage communication with cool little notecard prompts.  I am amazed that even in NYC people are looking for connection. My usual experience in coffee shops so far has been the same: headphones on, music up and head down. Maybe Birch Coffee really does love people.

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I step off the subway car and onto the platform. Headphones firmly in place with Beat & the Pulse Playing. Music helps me deal with the anxiety. I would take a cab but the subway stops right into the building of One Chase Manhattan Plaza, or 1 CMP for short. I make my way my way through the crowd. Everyone seems so lifeless, just going through the motions as I step into the office. Another song comes on and it reminds me of home. Ten days is a long time to be away from home. It kind of feels like I am taking a vacation from my problems. Is it possible to take an emotional break or am I just fooling myself? Without warning, my head begins to throb and I feel a quick, shooting pain in my heart. I haven’t thought about Ryan for a couple of hours, but the pain brings me back into my thoughts and memories of him. All this time I thought heartache was supposed to be metaphorical.

I start remembering the time Ryan and I went to a bonfire on Ocean Beach with a group of friends. It was simultaneously amazing and awful. The wind was blowing so relentlessly it felt as though we were being sandblasted. The fire couldn’t catch because of said wind, and it was so cold and painful that we made a run for it. The two of us escaped the fury of the elements by seeking sanctuary in the car, deciding to drive into Golden Gate Park. Here there was at least protection from the wind and we started laughing, spending hours talking to each other. It just felt so easy and fun.

I snap back into reality and shake my head back and forth as if trying to force the memory out. Three minutes later, speak of the devil, Ryan sends a text. What are the odds? My heart starts pounding and it is all I can do to just stare at his name with the notification. A million questions begin flooding my mind. Do I open my phone and read it? What does he want? Why now? What is he thinking? Do I just delete? Should I block his number? What an asshole. That last wasn’t a question but dammit, it feels like an asshole move. He left me, and it’s not as if we have kids or pets… technically I don’t have to ever see him or speak to him again.

I notice that I am rubbing my heart. It actually feels like I have been hit or stabbed. The piercing pain is able to bring me out of my panic for a moment and back to reality. It is akin to smelling salts for the soul. My mind, body, and soul are all connected now and it is excruciating. I don’t have it in me to deal with this right now, especially not at work. I stand up and walk around. I put my phone down. He can wait. Now, how am I supposed to shut off my mind from wondering what he said in his text? I didn’t ask for this and yet here I am, right in the middle of the biggest shit storm of my life. What could he possibly say that would be helpful in any possible way? I feel myself take a deep breath. I refuse to let a text message ruin my day. There is nothing he could say that could fix everything or make anything any worse than it already is. As I exhale I feel my body relax ever so slightly and I allow my mind to wander. I feel like TV does a poor job of depicting breakups. It seems as though people are back to their usual selves in a week or two. That is unless you are Ted in How I Met Your Mother. That guy moped.

I don’t have time for this shit. I force myself to turn to the door of the conference room. I have a meeting with an investment client and I just hope I can pull this off. Actually, it is clients plural, as there is both husband and wife coming in. I am fairly certain that the reason I was asked to take part in this meeting is not for my many qualifications, but rather to help the wife feel comfortable. Tim and Doug represent these clients. It’s a perfect ego combination of the One-Upper and Mr. Know-It-All, and I suppose they see me in their minds as Miss Inconsequential. Doug had another meeting, so Tim asked me to join him in this review. I paste my smile on and keep my head high as I enter the room and allow the door to close behind me.

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An hour and a half later I leave the room and have a moment to myself. Why do I feel like I need a shower? Some people should really come with warning labels and Tim is one of them. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I can’t get away fast enough. Luckily I can leave early today, so I head out to join an old friend at Eataly in the Flatiron District.

The subway is easy and effective. Normally I would have taken a cab, but with traffic, I can make better time on the train. I’m having a Felicity moment, I think to myself. My hair is blowing in the wind of a train coming to the station, I close my eyes and take in the moment. I miss Felicity, so I make a mental note to put it on the list of shows to watch at home.

The doors open and I walk in to find a place to stand by a pole. This will be a quick trip to 14th where I will transfer to the yellow line. I notice they have a new line “W” That wasn’t here the last time. The ride is seamless and soon I walk up two flights of stairs I see the flatiron on my left. Eataly is on the left and the infamous Shake Shake is on the right. I make my way through the crowds and stop lights, unable to ignore the honking cabs everywhere. In California, we honk in an emergency. In NYC they honk to let you know they are there, very casual and not a big deal. The buses usually honk repeatedly going through intersections. I make it to my destination and go through the front door. This is one of the coolest places. It is a marketplace, full of restaurants, cooking classes, a bakery, and coffee shop all in one. I love walking through here. The variety of smells enliven my spirits and I look around, not sure where to start first. I feel my stomach growl and I am hungrier than I realized. I order a cheese plate and a glass of rosé at one of the marble standing tables in the center of the marketplace.

I put my purse down and take off my coat and take a look at all the friends, couples and families all laughing and talking at the different tables. It is loud, but a good loud. I miss laughing. Two sips of the wine, I get a text from Lucy that she is on a deadline and can’t meet. The cheese plate gets delivered and I decide to have it put in a to-go carton to take back to the hotel. To be honest, I’m not in any way disappointed. I worry that something is wrong with me, that maybe my feelings aren’t working properly. I hop on Facebook as I wait for the waitress to return with my card. I see a video playing of a rescue dog getting a bath and haircut and I feel my eyes get misty. Okay, clearly my emotions are there and working, so I put my phone down. I think I just need to be by myself. It is so strange to me that I can go from feeling everything to right after feeling nothing. I just want to be normal. I feel a wave of heaviness come over me and exhaustion is about to knock me over. I need to sleep, now. I grab my card, my box, and take one last sip as I slip out a side door and head back to the hotel. It is loud and cold outside and my feet hurt. I see the clock glowing in the night with all the lights, and I feel that familiar sting again, Ryan.

The text. I am not sure what to do anymore but I decide to open it. Three words. Can we talk? I am hit with many emotions ranging from anger, resentment, sadness and I am over it all. I put my phone in my pocket and walk back to the hotel just a few blocks away. I decide that I am not making any decisions or responding until I get back to SF. So for now, I am on vacation. I decide it is okay to not care for a few days. I put my headphones on and listen to this new playlist I found. I am not sure what to do when everything in my life needs to be fixed, I want to shut down, so for now, this is all I let myself think about.

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Another noisy night, but this morning I slept in. It is Sunday and this means I have free time. I get dressed and ready to meet my friend, Lucy for brunch. She suggests Jane’s on West Houston Street in Soho? Every time I visit NYC I always go to brunch at Janes. I love their egg scramble with salmon, and of course mimosas. This is a tradition of sorts, champagne brunches, but first I need some coffee love. 

I grab my purse and coat and start to open the door to leave my room when I notice a white note on the floor by the door.  I pick up the paper and immediately start laughing. The management is informing all the occupants that they have plumbing issues and the water will be turned off from noon until four that afternoon. The construction is annoying, but I was planning on spending the entirety of my day out, so my plans won’t be interrupted in any way. I laugh when I think about the other guests staying at the hotel. They, unfortunately, will be shit out of luck, pun intended. I am not sure what is worse, inconveniencing the guests or the fact that the manager had to suggest on a written note that everyone “relieve” themselves before the noon deadline. I can barely contain the laughter. Maybe today will be a good day after all. It’s a miracle that I’m smiling before 6 Am, post-breakup and pre-coffee. I head downstairs and decide to go get my ‘love’ coffee.

As I step outside of the building I immediately notice that it is raining. Damn, I didn’t pack an umbrella and it is really pouring down. I run the entire way to the coffee shop, trying to save myself from a hair disaster. I rush through the front door only to smack into two men talking, and also, apparently, the end of the line. I am not the only one attempting to escape the rain. Packed doesn’t even begin to describe the shop. Here is just another difference to note about my city and this one. I am used to a certain way of doing things. I like my space and don’t particularly enjoy being packed in like sardines just to caffeinate myself. I make my choice. I grab a used newspaper and put it over my head as I leave, sans coffee. I am simply not in the mood to deal with long lines or people pushing and touching each other like a concert. Nope, I say to myself as I am shaking my head and decide to try my luck at Starbucks.  Starbucks coffee may not want to make a lifelong commitment to me like the ‘love’ coffee here but at this point, I don’t care.

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After brunch, I head to Central Park for a walk and end up at Alice Tea for an afternoon tea with scones. Central Park has an almost tangible magic about it. I always feel so good here and my inspiration gets ignited. It is like the cobwebs or fog gets cleared from my mind and I can actually think. I feel this way when I am near the ocean as well. I feel like myself for the first time since taking this trip. Fall is alive and well here in Central Park. The leaves are turning all kinds of yellow, orange, and brown and the rain has stopped. It is a particularly windy day and so there are little whirlwinds here and there that take up the leaves from the ground, swirling in circles up in the sky, and then gently releasing them so that they glide back down to the ground. I could sit and watch this for hours. I’m on my favorite bench, it is situated next to a lake and bridge, and I always come here to soak up all of the beauty around me.

 

 

Today is really cold so I won’t last longer than an hour, but I will enjoy the time I have. I realize that I have reached a moment of complete contentment, and the feeling is bizarre and foreign. I find it confusing that I am able to feel two completely different feelings at the same time. Sadness and grief at the loss of a relationship and yet at the same time a strange feeling that I am really okay to the core. In this moment I have what I need. I don’t know how to process this, so I just sit and take it in, not wanting to break the spell. I have one big meeting in the morning and then I am heading back to my city. NYC is amazing, but as cliche, as it sounds, my heart is really in SF. I head back to the hotel to pack.

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I have a suitcase on the bed and the TV on for distraction, as there is nothing good to watch but crime, news or Lifetime movie where a personal shopper falls in love with a finance/business exec. First of all, most of the guys I know in finance don’t know what love is let alone fall for their personal shopper. Call me jaded, but I’m not buying it. Not to mention how does a personal shopper afford an apartment or house in Manhattan? This is too far from reality for me to be entertained. Why can’t the lead role be a woman in finance? At least the movie is doing its job, distracting me from my own life with a fictional character. I finish packing and start getting ready for bed. At least there isn’t another note under the door from management with more plumbing issues! So there is that.

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Last night sucked. I got little to no sleep and I am now heading into Birch Coffee for some love and demon slaying coffee. Yep, that is the name of their coffee. If it could wake me up, carry my bags and get a cab that would be great! I grab my hug in a mug, “Birch loves you” coffee and head with luggage in hand to the corner to hail a cab. This is the last coffee of this trip and soon I will be heading back to California. Three weeks ago I had my life figured out, or at least I thought I did. Today, I am utterly lost. I don’t know where I am living, the holidays are here and I am trying to figure it all out. I know the clock is running out on my self-imposed vacation from my problems. I keep reminding myself that I will think about it when I am on the plane. Until then, I will keep my shoulders back and head high. My heels confidently click against the city sidewalk. I put my earphones in and turn my music on… I just might make it.