It’s a beautiful autumn day and I am earnestly working to unpack the tower of boxes that fill my new furnished condo. The cool breeze from my living room window blows the curtain and sends all of my work papers flying across the room. I rushed over to gather my papers and begin to smile as I began to focus on my new job as Lead Crisis Counselor at the Wellness Crisis Center on the Northwest side of Chicago. Whoever thought that after two weeks from graduating MSU, I would have landed my dream job. I was so excited my senior year, when I was offered a paid Internship at The Wellness Crisis Center. And for an entire year, I worked hard to ensure that I would be able to return after graduation.
As my phone began to ring, I snapped back to reality as I knew immediately by the ringtone that mom was checking up on how things were going. “Candy, why haven’t you called me today?” I completely forgot to give her a call and let her know that I had made it safely to my new home, and by her using my official name instead of Candace, I know I’m in trouble.“Mom, I’m so sorry that I didn’t call you as promised, but I’ve been so busy trying to get settled. I could hear mom sighing on the other side of the call. I start my new job tomorrow, and I really wanted to get some of my boxes unpacked before then.” After a long pause, Mom responded that her Dad is just worried about me. “After all, we were very hesitant about you moving out on your own, but you were so persistent. We just want the best for you.” I reassured my mom that I was safe and that I was happier than ever. My friends Marsha and Anthony are coming over in a few minutes to help, so see I’m not alone at all. Still with hesitation in her voice, Mom agreed to drop the issue and let me get back to my unpacking. “Well call me tomorrow after work Candy and be careful.” My mom and I were always so close and I could hear her concern in her voice.
After assuring mom that I will call her first thing tomorrow. I took in a very deep breath. Mom always had a way of making me feel guilty. But I know that she only wants what’s best for me.
Focusing back on the task of unpacking, I came across the new dish set given to her by my older brother Jackson. Jackson was only four years older than me, and we have always been extremely close. He has always protected me my entire life and took the role of older brother very seriously. Jackson was the first person to buy me a house warming gift when he found out that I was buying a condo. Although he was not keen on me living by myself, he was very proud of his baby sister. He lived in the city, not that far from my house so he felt confident that he could always get to me if I needed anything.
I’m the middle child and I have a younger sister, Hannah. Hannah is a 15 yr old fashion guru. Hannah was always very expressive in her style. She is so vibrant and independent. She asked for a sewing machine at the age of 10 and has been making her own clothes for 5 years.
Although I was her older sister, I always admired her strong personality and awareness at such a young age.
Around 5:30 p.m, I was exhausted and was laying across my extremely soft, freshly laid carpet. I felt like I was 10 yrs old again in my parent’s yard creating a butterfly imprint in the snow. I was laughing so hard at how silly I must look rolling up and down my spacious fully carpet living room floor. I finally had it all, my own place, a great job and freedom. Suddenly I was startled at a very loud buzzing sound. I almost jumped out of my skin, before realizing that the sound was my doorbell. This buzzard will definitely take some adjusting. I jumped up off the floor and ran to the intercom. “Who is it?” A very loud and vibrant voice responded, “Who else would it be, its Marsha and Anthony.” Yes, finally my best friends are here and they can help me get my place together.
It’s been awhile since I saw my besties. I met Marsha and Anthony the first week of freshman year at MSU. We were all placed in the same assignment group for a Sociology class project. Marsha was the total opposite of my alter ego. She was loud and demanded attention everywhere she went. She was definitely an extrovert. She was very smart and decided after graduation to open up her own beauty salon. She didn’t just want one salon, but she is working toward a chain of salons carrying her own beauty products. Anthony was a breath of fresh air for me. He was unlike any guy I ever met in my hometown. He was funny and kept me and Marsha and I in stitches laughing everyday since the day we met him on campus. He was a mixed between a gym jock and male model. We often joked about how he spent hours in the mirror before going anywhere. Most of the time we were late going out, because Anthony was still getting ready. Anthony and Marsha were as close to me as my natural siblings. Actually they knew more about me now then my family. It was always easier talking to them then anyone else.
As I go to buzz my friends in, I am filled with excitement about our long overdue reunion. Face time is not sufficient for friends who love and miss each other. I go to unlock my door and can clearly hear Marsha before I can see her. She’s walking up the stairs raving about the decor of the building. “I can’t believe this place is so nice and classy. Anthony come on, why are you walking so slow.” Oh, did I mention how bossy Marsha can be? I stick my head out the door and hush my very loud friend and hurry them in my place. Marsha skips down the corridor and rushes me by wrapping her arms around my neck pushing me backward into my condo. I catch my balance and return the love by giving her the biggest hug. Anthony stands in the doorway waiting on a personal invitation. He can be so spoiled sometimes, but I love him so I walk around Marsha and hold my hand out. “Come in baby and see my new place and our new hang out spot”. Laughing, Anthony pushes past me and heads straight for my kitchen. “Please tell me you have something to eat, I’m starving”. Is he kidding, I haven’t had a chance to shop better yet cook. “Anthony there is absolutely nothing in my kitchen to eat. We will have to order in″. Pizza it is he said as he reaches for his cell phone to call for a family size cheese only on one side for Marsha and everything else on the other for me and Anthony. While Anthony was calling the local pizza joint, Marsha settled down on the floor of my living room. “When will your living room furniture be delivered?” I ordered a beautiful gray sofa set with teal pillows from a custom furniture store. They promised to have my furniture set delivered by the end of the day and that is why I really needed my friends to help me get everything else settled before they arrived. “Marsha they are coming tonight, so get up and let’s get these boxes unpacked.” My condo is filled with new and old things. My parents were adamant that I save my money by taking some of their kitchen appliances after all my mom collected way more than she ever needed or used. I saved for months to order shelves, table art and wall paintings to add the personal touch to my new home. Anthony entered the room after getting off the phone and asked for the grand tour of the place. I gave my friends the grand tour of my one bedroom condo leaving the best for last, the view of the most beautiful city in the world from my balcony. As we approached the balcony, I grabbed the balcony doors with both hands and swung it open like a scene from a movie.
“Lady and gentleman, please watch your step as we progress to the breathtaking view of the city of Chicago and Lake Michigan.” With mouths wide open, Marsha and Anthony take two steps forward and land on my balcony. “Candy, this is absolutely worth every dime you are paying for this place”. Marsha was not hesitant to remind me of how much I’m paying for this place. Being an entrepreneur, she was always watching the bottom line. If it doesn’t show a profit, she wanted no part of the transaction. But even Marsha had to agree that this view and neighborhood was well worth the investment. I felt an arm reach around my shoulders and I looked up to see Anthony smiling from ear to ear. “Not bad kid, not bad. We will have some major parties up here.”
Every once and while, I have to remind Anthony that we are no longer in college and those College party days and weekends are over. “Hey you guys, I don’t have any food in the kitchen but I have something that will make this moment perfect.” They both stared at me as if I was keeping the secret to the meaning of life from them. To torture them further, I didn’t say a word but slowly walked in the kitchen, reached in the cabinet and pulled out my surprise. I returned to the balcony with an unopened bottle of red wine and 3 glasses. “Girl, you been holding out, this is absolutely what we need to bless your new condo.” Smiling, Marsha reached over and grabbed the bottle of wine. After struggling with the cork, she began to fill everyone’s glasses. Anthony stepped in front of Candy, dethroning her from the spotlight to make a toss. “To Candy, my girl and boo we are so proud of you and excited about your new place, new job and bright future. Now the only thing left is to get you someone to spice up the rest of your life. I almost spitted out my wine by his last remarks. If I didn’t enjoy it so much, I probably would have let it all out. “Excuse me Sir, I’m just fine. I don’t need a man to define me or make my life more complicated.” Okay, I normally never lie to my friends, but I’m so sick and tired of being the target of this subject. I have never really had a real relationship and these jokers know oh to well that I have issues trusting guys. In college, they saw me go on dates with guys but I never found anybody worth spending in real time. They critically gave me the title of Social Dater. I’m just tired of dating the same type of guy and getting the same results, so I decided to take a break and focus on my career. “Candace!” What are you doing? Anthony yelling snapped me back into reality as I drifted back to my lack of fire in the dating scene.
“Listen, you need to stop lying to yourself. You know those papers in the work box is not going to keep you warm and right at night. You can save all that I don’t need a man for somebody who doesn’t know you”. I would get mad and lash back, but he’s right. I hate being alone and seeing everybody have someone to love on. Marsha is currently dating someone she met why we were in college. They are long distance now, but they are working hard on finding a way to be together again soon. Anthony is everyone’s guy, but he is honest about not being ready to be faithful or committed to anyone right now. Marsha looks at me and gently touches my face. “I know you are scared of opening up to someone, but you’re going to have to give someone a chance. You are amazing and someone would be so happy to have you in their life”. Just then a familiar yet startling sound rang in my condo. We all jumped, until I remembered that this unnerving sound is my doorbell. “Pizza!” Tony yelled as he ran to the door to buzz up the delivery guy. We spent the rest of the evening eating pizza, unpacking and laughing. The sofa set was delivered and after everything was placed in its proper place, I walked my besties to the door to say our goodbyes but not before agreeing to attend a conference this weekend for entrepreneurs and leaders. Marsha and Anthony were both attendees and had an extra ticket for me and they felt this would be the perfect opportunity for me to mingle and meet some local guys.