As I sat at my laptop, staring at the unopened message, I kept wondering to myself, how in the hell could this even work? I took a deep breath and held it as I clicked the unread email on my screen. 'Amelia Carter, Congratulations on your acceptance...' I didn’t know whether to be ecstatic or begin panicking. I had just been accepted to the university of my dreams, over 1,000 miles from home, where I knew not a soul and had no clue how I would keep myself afloat. How could I turn this opportunity down? I found myself pacing the length of my tiny studio apartment, letting every worrisome thought run through my mind. I wondered how I would not only handle the cost but be so far from any family or friends.
Immediately, I called my sister and gave her the news. She shrieked with excitement and then paused, most likely thinking my exact thoughts. “Montana? You there?” I waited until she broke the silence with the question of the day, “So now what?”
Work was slow this past week just adding to the stress I’ve been dealing with. Trying to save money is literally impossible working as a waitress in this town. So here I am on a beautiful summer Saturday night, serving what few tables were filled in this bar that stayed open by the skin of their teeth. I understand we’re all financially struggling during these times but serving a group of wasted and disastrous people for hours to be left with not a dime is just so disappointing. You could afford all those margaritas but not leave even a couple of bucks for the woman waiting on you all night long.
As I cleaned up the mess left by my last table of the night, I knew I couldn’t stay here struggling much longer. I’ve always told myself that this is the way life works and we’re all struggling to get by. With this new opportunity at my feet, I finally had a different outlook on what life could really be. Hunched over, picking up dirty napkins from the floor, I felt a presence come up behind me and squeeze me in their tiny arms. Laughing, I patted her hands, “I love you too, Liv.”
Olivia has been my light at the end of the tunnel, or at least at the end of every shift. It’s been nice working alongside my best friend, even though we both may be miserable getting the job done. “Mia!” she came to stand in front of me and planted both hands on my arms, looking like she was about to deliver a lecture. “What the heck am I going to do without you!?”
I frowned and rolled my eyes at the same time. “I know, I know, we’ve been over this. You know I’m devastated, too. I don’t want to be in New York without my bestie! Honestly, I don’t know if I want to be in New York at all…” I trailed off, reconsidering for the millionth time whether to leave or not.
“Noooo, enough of that! My Mia, all grown up,” she looked at me like a proud mother and I laughed. “Seriously, I know you need to go, and I know you know you need to go… but I can’t help to be so sad. I know you keep saying you haven’t made up your mind yet, but babe…” she waved her hands back and forth as if to show off the place we were in, insinuating who would ever want to stay here. I’ve been working my ass off, picking up every shift I could since I’d lost my job a few months back.
If I’m being honest, I don’t tell anyone what I did. It’s my own business and I’m also not entirely proud of it, but it paid the bills and has let me pay my way through my bachelor’s degree here. Prior to waitressing, I was a dancer and a server at a club nearby. It was a bit demeaning, but the income was so substantial, I just kept pushing through until I could finish my degree and find myself a real career. I was let go when they realized they couldn’t afford so many of us. It really put a damper on my plans. I’ve lost so much of my savings that I’ve had to use to pay rent and keep my lights on. I can’t even imagine this next possible venture with what my bank account is telling me.
Kissing Olivia before I left, I grabbed my things and headed home. On my way out, I pulled out my phone to check up on my texts and there goes Mon with a quick stress check. ‘Not yet,’ I respond, knowing she’ll be calling me next. I roll my eyes and answer my phone at the expected ringing, “Montana, I don’t know what to tell you. Of course, I want to run from here and follow my dreams and all that BS, but you know how it goes! How in the hell could I afford New York? Everything here is -.”
“Mia! O.M.G. enough! Let me speak, yeah?... okay? … good... I’ve found you a job,” she squealed through the phone.
“Oh great, another reason not to leave Arizona,” I sarcastically replied.
“Honey, no... a New York job. I’ll send you all the deets. A friend of Justin’s knew a guy who has been looking for an assistant and we immediately thought of you. It’s exactly what you’re made for though none of us will ever understand why,” she says, laughing. None of my friends and family understand why I am pursuing a career in computer science. It’s just something that’s clicked with me academically.
“Do I really trust anyone Justin is referring me to?” I asked. Justin is my sister’s best friend, and he is, well, wild. Don’t get me wrong, I love him to pieces and he’s like a big brother to me, but he is known for his antics and not having the most trustworthy of relationships.
“No, no, no! I promise this one is very, very normal! He isn’t even dating the guy yet. They met at the grocery store if you could believe that and just formed a connection over all the times that they kept running into each other. He’s been chatting with him for a few weeks now and just told me about this opportunity he found out about. Oh sorry, I told him all about your situation, hope you don’t mind.” Of course, she did! She continued before I could respond, “Nevertheless, you need this. This could solve all your troubles and get you into that school and onto your next nerd job or whatever your thing is! Come on! Don’t blow it! I’m sending you the info now! K? Love you, bye.”
As usual, she gets the last word. I decided to put a pin in this situation and think about it after a decent night’s sleep for once. Arriving at my humble home, I tossed my nasty work outfit aside, exhausted, deciding I’d shower in the morning, and hopped straight into bed.
His hands were roaming up my back, caressing and massaging until they reached my throat. He roughly grabbed hold from behind and planted kisses up the side of my neck, leaving a burning trail across my skin. I gasped and shivered with the arousal and anticipation of what was to come. I wanted him. I wanted to be his. I needed him. I felt him lean in closer, pressing himself against my back and whisper in my ear, “Congratulations on your acceptance to Columbia University...”
What the fuck? I woke up with a start, literally sweating and anxiety-ridden. My mind instantly wandered back, wondering who that man in my dream was. I’ve definitely never experienced any feelings like that in person. It was as if I was in love with a stranger. I shook my head and tried to focus on the issue at hand. Maybe the dream is trying to tell me to make a decision and take a chance in life. Or maybe it’s my inner turmoil over my lack of intimacy with anyone other than myself. That’s it. I need to do something big for a change and take this chance right in front of me. Right here in the darkness of 4 in the morning, I’ve made up my mind. New York here I come.
After sitting on the phone forever with Olivia, packing up all of my belongings, and handing off what I couldn’t take with me to Montana, it was time to be on my way. Luckily my apartment lease was up by the end of the month anyway. We hugged for what seemed like hours and made never-ending promises of phone calls and visits. I had no clue how to even drive in a big city! I’ve barely been out of my home state, let alone moved across the country on my own. I’ve decided to take this as a cross-country road trip in classic cliche fashion. Plus, I don’t really have the funds to fly across the country and have my things shipped there safely. I still had weeks until I was expected at this new position and until classes began. I opted for fully virtual courses in the meantime, while I get acquainted with my new digs and the job. I worried the burden of in-person courses and settling into the campus and the entire city on top of beginning a new, potentially time-consuming job would be overwhelming. I felt online courses were necessary but am so frustrated at the same time. I was really looking forward to that university life. I wanted the full college experience, complete with random hookups and late-night parties that threatened my grades. Now I’ll be stuck in my new dorm, just as I have been here in my apartment, but this time without any friends or family nearby.
I’ve been going over my contract for this new assistant position and it seems I’ll have my hands full. Without being entirely sure of all my tasks, I can tell I’ll be working for a tech company. I haven’t even spoken to my actual boss yet. Everything has been done through his attorney for some odd reason. All I knew was that his name is Dominick Williams and he’s older than I am, living in Edgewater, New Jersey. I didn’t understand at first since I’ll be in NYC but apparently, it’s right across the Hudson from where I’ll be staying on campus. I still didn’t know how most of this worked since I was brand new to the area, but according to Trulia, homes in his area are ridiculous. I’m going out on a limb and assuming I’ll be working for a friggen’ millionaire. This could be a disaster or a hell of a lot of fun. Time will tell.