My best friend from college, Jeff, who lives in the North East always laughs when I drone on about my love of Fall living in Southern California. I believe that you can just feel fall no matter where you are. Sure, I have to actively seek out orange leaves and 74 in November doesn’t have the same crisp in the air as Pittsburgh, but I can feel the change as everything slows down for a brief respite before the holiday mania sets in. Walking down the main street in my perfect little town with orange motifs everywhere you look (Oranges are our thing), you can just feel the change in the air.
I ducked into an ally lined with brick walls and painted murals on my way to my favorite coffee shop. Aggie’s is exactly what you might picture when imagining a hipster california coffee shop, exposed brick-and-duct work, tatted and pierced baristas and art from local artists hanging on the walls, and I love every bit of it. I ordered my coffee, a lavender almond milk latte, because if your drink order isn’t pretentious are you really getting the full experience? I think not. I settle in the back room in an overstuffed chair and pull out my laptop to get to work. The book I’m currently writing is about Alice Roosevelt Longworth because she was a regular badass and I envy her fuck what anyone thinks spirit. She buried a voodoo doll in the white house lawn of the incoming First Lady, Nellie Taft, which got her banned from the White House. She then received her second barring, as she was also banned after telling a less than tasteful joke at, then president, Woodrow Wilson’s expense. I mean this happened in the early 1900′s, how badass is that?
I understand that I am the most unlikely historian. When most people think of Historian, they picture tweed jackets with patches on the elbow, and older men with beards and maybe a pipe for some reason. I have flowing tendrils of bright copper red hair and a sleeve of watercolor wildflowers on my right arm, my Emerald green eyes have been described as startling, I suppose that is supposed to be a compliment, though it never quite felt that way. Looking the way I do, my editor, Maribel, has suggested several times that I might sell more books if I were to write under O. Sloan allowing my readers to assume I am a man with a pipe and beard, since, as she explained, “male historians are just more palatable to mainstream historical readers,” she receives the usual “I think the fuck not,” which generally stops that patriarchal bullshit, if only temporarily. I love my name, Olive Violet Sloan, it is a good solid name and it suits me. Growing up I got the rather unoriginal Popeye taunts, but all in all, it has served me well and I am not about to lose any part of me to make any man feel more comfortable.
It’s a rare treat today to get the entire back room to myself and I am flooded with motivation. I got about two chapters done before I was hit with the smell of some type of wood and orange blossoms, turning to see where it came from I see what can only be described as a God of a man, now I am not generally the swoon at a hot guy type of gal but hot damn this man. His long curly beard, Auburn blond curls circling his chiseled face, sparkling turquoise blue eyes, and rippling muscles under his blue cashmere sweater, sleeves pulled up just enough to see the tattoos and that was it, I’m a goner for sure. I quickly returned to my work so as not to seem like a crazy stalker, but before I look down he gives me a slight side smile. I nod like an old English gentleman tipping his hat before looking down and chastising myself for being perpetually awkward. Glancing over to his open laptop, because apparently I am some sort of crazy stalker, I can see he works in some sort of tech field, from the looks of the code on his screen. I recognize the jumbled mix of numbers and symbols from my feeble attempts at helping Jeff with his computer engineering homework in college.
Right in the middle of me planning our entire lives right down to the ginger babies I would give him in my head, I get a text from my editor reminding me that I have eight chapters due in the morning. Nothing snaps you out of a fantasy like a deadline. I type out “You are the executioner of fun” before deleting it and saying instead, “I’m on it”, because I like being able to pay rent and eat. By the time I looked up from my work the smoke show was gone. Though I am very annoyed at Maribel for ruining what was sure to be the type of steamy encounter only imagined in the kind of novel you read on a kindle to hide your shame, I am happy with the work I got done.
Arriving at my tiny perfect little Spanish house I feel a little less disappointed, looking around at my eclectic mix of Boho, florals, and an unhealthy collection of plants, realizing that this house, while absolutely perfect for me right down to my porcelain Dalek sitting on an antique doily and my framed portrait of Captain jon Luc Picard hanging above my fireplace mantle, is not a house for a man. Immediately kicking off my boots and jeans, freeing myself from my boob prison and pulling on some sweats and an old oversized hoodie from college so I can eat heated up leftovers and watch some old episodes of Buffy the vampire Slayer, because I am a 28 year old teenager and I just can’t get enough of brooding sexy vampires fighting their desire to be good and their urges to be bad, I mean have you seen Angel?! I mean come on, it’s basically porn you could watch with your aunt. Maribel wants two more chapters by ten tomorrow morning so I turn in earlier than usual in hopes I will wake up full of inspiration.
The rain hitting the windows stirs me and I begrudgingly leave my cocoon of blankets and head into the kitchen for my sad, not even remotely pretentious, coffee. Thanking last night me for setting up the coffee maker so all I had to do was hit a button, I set up my workstation by the window hoping to get enough done so I didn’t have to hear the exasperation of Maribel reminding me that writing is an actual job and deadlines aren’t suggestions for the millionth time. I thought for a moment if I wasn’t the way I am and let her change my name I could be drinking fancy pretentious coffee every day. Damn my feminist indoctrination in Catholic School. If you can get through 13 years of Catholic School hearing something horrifying a man did daily and not come out a raging liberal feminist, I don’t know how. It was never presented as horrifying of course, but let’s be honest, it’s a whole lot of horrifying. I finished off the final chapter and sent it off around noon closing my laptop with a much deserved stretch. I grab my coat and head out to walk the beautiful university campus down the street. I rented this house because I thought the idea of walking to class or riding a bike with a cute basket, was so appealing. I never bought a bike, but did appreciate not having to fight for parking and the walk is only a block and a half so I can’t complain. The rain has stopped but you can smell it in the trees and there is a nice chill in the air. I made it halfway through the campus before I saw him. Smoke show coffee shop guy was walking toward me. He had an incredibly cute golden retriever on a plaid leash, because of course he did. A gorgeous man must have a gorgeous dog, it is some unspoken rule of the universe. I instinctively looked down at my shoes and wished I had opted for a more grown-up shoe instead of these worn-out black high top Converse, as I approached this perfectly dressed man with his perfectly groomed beard, auburn blond curls escaping his knit cap, and leather boots that looked to be more expensive than my rent. I looked up when I heard a slight Scottish accent saying, “Hello, I believe I saw you yesterday at the coffee shop”. I silently swear curses over myself if I am weird and say “oh yes I was there”, yep curses for sure. He laughed, a deep sexy laugh and asked if he and Ainsley might walk with me for awhile. I kneel down to pet this absolutely perfect dog and say “I’m guessing you are Ainsley” looking up I reply,“I’m olive”. Offering me his had to stand, he says, “It is a pleasure to meet you Olive, my name is Finn”. We walked and talked for what felt like hours. He talked about moving to Oregon from Scotland when he was six and I talked about growing up in a suburb just outside of los Angeles. He shared his childhood stories filled with adventures through forests and mine filled with skating rinks and malls. When we ended up at my house I had wished I was one of those smooth sophisticated women that could invite him in for a drink not worrying at all if I had laundry hanging on random chairs, but all I could muster was, “well here I am, it was nice to meet you, thank you for walking with me.” As I bent down to give Ainsley one last scratch behind his ears, Finn asked, “Would it be too forward of me to ask for your phone number?” Thinking, you have no idea how forward everything I want to ask you for is, but settle on, “No, of course not,” as I rummage through my bag for a pen before scribbling my name and number on an old receipt for him. God, Maribel is right, a grown up would have had a business card or at least a fancy little leather bound tablet of paper. He took the wrinkly receipt and carefully folded it before placing it in his pocket. “Olive, this has been a glorious afternoon, thank you for giving me your time today.“I smile and can feel my cheeks blush trying to hide it but the curse of this red hair comes with the absolute inability to hide any sort of embarrassment as I reply, “Thank you, I had fun too”. Real smooth Olive, I silently curse to myself as I walk into my house and slide down to the floor safely behind my now closed front door.