Coast to Coast

January 2020

Jen walked in the front door and dropped face first onto the couch. Taking several shallow breaths, she grabbed the pillow and curled into the fetal position as hooks pulled her stomach inside out. She hadn’t slept well since Adam went to NYC for his next project, and her new job in West Hollywood had her commuting an extra hour each way, which meant almost three hours of driving. Three fewer hours of free time to relax or clean or sleep or even Skype Adam, who was so caught up in his dream job that they barely had time to talk in weeks. 

She recalled the week they’d found out about their new positions. They’d danced and popped champagne and rejoiced until it dawned on them what this would all mean. Now, the sheer anxiety about the possibility of losing him left her tossing and turning late into the night. Showing up to work tired all week led to multiple mistakes on big projects, and it’s not like she deserved the job anyway, and now they’d all realize she was a fraud who’d somehow made it through the hiring process, and they’d fire her, and she’d be out of work and have to move back in with her parents now that Adam wasn’t paying rent, and next thing she knew he’d leave her for some long-legged big-breasted high-power professional coworker of his who was probably way smarter than her and could make him laugh in a way Jen never could, and she’d lose everything she ever cared about.

Hoping to distract herself she chose a Netflix recommendation at random, but couldn’t stay focused. She listened to her favorite sad songs, but couldn’t get into them. She scrolled through her Instagram feed until she wasn’t even seeing the photos in front of her anymore, then got up and made herself some Relax tea, but left it untouched on the kitchen counter as she wandered from room to room, aimlessly searching for something to ease this constant exhausted tension, her eyes a slow drip down her cheeks.

She nearly fell off the couch when her ringtone went off, and she saw it was a Skype call from Adam. His face looked tired when she answered, his eyes red and puffy. His face brightened when she smiled at him, her wet cheeks rising in a giggle of relief.

“Hi,” she said. “How’s the battlefield?”

He laughed at the reference, a callback to a carefree memory, a dumb joke he’d made at Venice Beach so many months ago.

“I have some news,” he said.

She stared at the blueish screen in anticipation, at his face and the red brick of his Brooklyn apartment wall. News? Good or bad? If he didn’t say, it’s probably bad, right?

He took a breath. “We should wrap here up in less than a month, but well, they offered me another contract. It would go another six, by their estimate.”

Her heart sank as she realized where this was going. “You’re… you’re not coming back?”

“I’ve been thinking about this a lot and… you know, I’m not gonna take it.”

“What?”

“I’m not taking the contract,” he said. “I miss you too much. I want to come home.”

“Oh my gosh, actually?” She smiled and let out a loud sigh of relief, which they both chuckled at.

“Actually,” he said. “I already bought my flight.”

It felt like a house had been lifted off her chest. They chatted for another hour before eventually drifting off together, their screens still streaming each others’ pixelated faces as they entered their first restful sleep in several weeks. She could breath again.