I type out the letters of my name onto the first line of my new word document: Lori Lowndes. I sit back and stare blankly at my laptop screen.
I’m the advice columnist for the magazine I write for and I’m supposed to have a 700-word article of sensible and reputable advice written as a response to a young woman’s current relationship struggle.
I’m supposed to have this 700-word article completed by 5 pm.
It’s 4:46 pm and all I have is my name.
I don’t know where the hours of the day went.
They probably disappeared during the secret afternoon car nap I took that went on a little longer than it should have. And during my sixteenth attempt of conquering level 440 of Candy Crush.
I used to write the gossip column for my magazine but I was having a hard time keeping up with the latest and greatest bits and pieces of celebrity drama so I ended up getting reassigned. I moved onto the health & fitness section and was told to produce articles about the positives of adding more kale into your diet and why yoga is a must for women who are trying to get pregnant. That wasn’t working out so I was reassigned once again.
To the advice column.
“Third times a charm,” one desk mate chimed at me when my reassignment was announced to the office.
I decided to just go with it.
I stare at my blank word document for a few more moments and then finally shut my laptop. I scribble out a quick “sorry” note to my boss for not finishing my assignment. This definitely isn’t the first time I’ve fucked up. I’ve had writer’s block for at least three or four months now.
Truthfully, I’ve been barely getting by.
I met my boss, Langston Richards, in our Early American Literature English class at UC Berkeley. We became friends after discovering how much we both hated the final essay prompt that we were forced to write about. I was 19 at the time. He was 23. I don’t think anything romantic ever developed between us because of the age difference. It’s not like it was a huge age difference or anything and I wouldn’t have minded it at all… but he was always going out to bars and to places where I wasn’t old enough to go yet. One particular night while he was out, he met Regina Roswald. He came to class the next day gushing about the girl. Saying she could very well possibly be “the one”. They started dating and when it got more serious, they started The Daily Edict together. Regina came from a family of money who had no hesitation loaning Langston and her the money they needed for startup costs. It’s arguably one of the most progressive online magazines to be subscribed to in the entire United States. Any kind of audience can be reached through their articles... Any age, any gender, any ethnicity, any political view, religion, sexual orientation... Anyone.
When I graduated with my English degree just a couple of years after Langston and Regina had graduated with their degrees, they offered me a position to write for The Daily Edict too. I graciously accepted and spent the following year as one of their most avid and well-written journalists.
I met Tom Parker at a Starbucks back then… When I still considered an “avid and well-written journalist”. I was getting my morning latte and I’d left my wallet in my car. Tom was standing in line behind me and offered to buy the latte for me so I wouldn’t have to run outside in the cold.
We sat down across from each other and started to talk. I discovered that he’d also graduated from UC Berkeley, but he graduated with a degree in political science. We never ran into each other on campus because our classes were in different departments. We were both Democrats. We were both non-religious. We were both reaching for some higher-level form of success.
We sat down across from each other at a corner table and pulled out our laptops. He got started on his work assignments from the campaign he was working with and I got started on the newly inspired story idea that had just blossomed in my head.
About a girl who met her future husband at the most cliché place that ever existed: Starbucks.
(A story which by the way is still in progress and has never reached beyond chapter three.)
I looked across the table at him and I thought I knew.
He was “the one”.
We exchanged numbers and parted ways but we didn’t allow even 24 short hours to pass before we made plans to see each other again.
We spent every day together. We blew off work, we ate what we wanted, we watched the sunsets and sunrises. The first time we had sex was exactly how I envisioned it would be. The morning after too.
Even though we spent most nights together, we waited a year before moving in together and then we started discussing marriage. I was 22 years old and I’d never experienced such a whirlwind romance.
I honestly never thought I’d feel love the way I was feeling it with Tom.
I was writing. Everyday. I always had new ideas. New inspirations. A simple lyric in a song. The pitter patter of rain against the window pane. A gentle touch from Tom. My mind was a flurry of ideas and plans in motion for new books that I wanted to begin writing.
Tom would occasionally ask me about my family but I told him that some things were better left buried. He never really pushed the issue. He respected the boundaries I so strictly laid between us. I adored his family though. His mom would always compliment my hair. His dad would always kiss my forehead. His brothers would jokingly ask how Tom landed a girl so far out of his league.
We would go on double dates with Regina and Langston and talk about everything other than work. When Langston finally proposed to Regina one perfectly starlit evening in front of all of our friends at a party, I think Tom got the bright idea that he and I should officially get engaged too.
Regina and I both had diamond rings to flaunt and things were running smoothly. I was writing insightful articles at work and imaginative fictional stories at home. Things were finally okay.
And then the flashbacks started. And the nightmares. And the overwhelming memories. Like my brain was being swarmed by the images that I had tried so desperately to suppress into the darkest and smallest corners of my mind. I could no longer focus at work, I couldn’t sleep at night, and I was picking pointless fights with Tom at all hours.
I was starting to think about the things that happened to my sister and me when we were younger. I started remembering every detail. I couldn’t bear to talk about it out loud so I complained to a psychiatrist about bad anxiety and thoughts of hopelessness. He prescribed me what I needed.
As soon as the antidepressants settled in my system,
I haven’t been the same since