On this cold, crisp fall day, I try my best to look enthusiastic as my best friend, Sarah Jane, gives me the rundown of what she plans for my thirty-fifth birthday.
"Here's what I have planned for us today," Sarah Jane says, as she and I sit at a café across from the Chicago River. For the last several years, Sarah Jane and I would celebrate our birthdays with a day of pampering, good food, and lots of shopping. This month, I am the birthday child of the moment, and because I am no longer in a romantic relationship, I lack the excitement that I might otherwise experience for my birthday festivities. My last relationship ended a year ago when John David, the man I was supposed to marry, refused to commit to me because of his on-again, off-again relationship with his first love. And now, as I am about to turn thirty-five, I can't help but miss being a couple.
For the two years that John and I were together, John would always gift me with sparkling studded earrings, and my birthday would always end at my place, where we would order out and watch old black and white movies. With each passing thought, I force the memories from my mind. Those days are over now because John and I are no longer together. Despite being in a less than zealous mood, I am going to do my best to enjoy the day anyway.
Sarah Jane reads her list to me. "First, we're going to have a manicure and pedicure at Macy's. Then, I'm taking you shopping for new shoes. That's always fun. Then it's off to Gibson's for dinner, and we will top off the evening with a trip to the Exodus Reggae Bar."
Though Sarah Jane's plans sounds good, I am not feeling the birthday vibe.
"How does that sound?" Sarah Jane asks, seemingly hoping for a shred of enthusiasm.
"It sounds good," I say, trying to hide my lack of exuberance as I continue to give thought to how this day might have played out if John were still in my life.
"Today is a very special day," Sarah Jane says. "Thirty-five is an important milestone, wouldn't you say?"
"Since when is thirty-five a milestone?"
"Every year past thirty is a milestone for any woman."
"There could be some truth to that."
Then, out of nowhere, Sarah Jane seems to pick up on something and say, "I hope you're not sitting there thinking about John."
It is as if Sarah Jane can read my mind. "I am not thinking about him," I say, hoping to convince Sarah Jane of my half-truths.
"Of course, you are."
I am about to tell Sarah Jane what is really on my mind, then hesitate and say nothing.
"What?" Sarah Jane asks.
"I was just thinking. Any chance we can skip this year's celebration?"
"Not a chance." Sarah Jane never did mince words. "We are going to celebrate your birthday…period."
I should know better. There is no way Sarah Jane is going to allow me to skip out on a birthday celebration for any reason. Without an inkling of joy in my soul, I stare at the water glass before me.
"You know, you could be a little more enthusiastic," Sarah Jane says. "It is your birthday."
"And no boyfriend."
"So what, you don't have a boyfriend. You have me."
"Sarah Jane, as much as I love you, it's not the same thing."
"Do you know how many birthdays have come and gone when I didn't have anyone special in my life?"
"Of course, it's easy for you to say this now because you have someone," I say.
"And you will too. You just have to have faith." Sarah Jane leans back in her chair. "Do you ever hear from him?"
"Who do you think? John?"
"No, and I don't expect to either."
"Who are you kidding? You know you're hoping that the two of you will get back together."
"Get back together? With him? I might be crazy, but I'm not insane."
Though there may be a tad bit of truth to what Sarah Jane suggests, my reunion with John is definitely not something I am banking on.
Sarah Jane begins scanning through her iPhone. "I have to find someone for you to have sex with."
My mouth drops open. "Excuse me?"
"You heard me. You have to get John out of your system."
"John is not in my system."
"Oh yeah? Have you made love to anyone since your breakup with him?"
I know I have not made love to anyone since my breakup with John, haven't even come close, but I am not going to confess this to Sarah Jane so easily. "I'd rather not say."
Sarah Jane smiles as if her point has been fully made and then continues to scan through her iPhone. "According to Samantha Jones, the best way to get over one man is to get underneath another one."
Ever since Sarah Jane and I became loyal fans of the famous TV series Sex and the City, who we identified with always remained the same. Sarah Jane is Samantha, and I would forever be Carrie Bradshaw.
"That kind of advice may work for some women, but I don't think it's the solution to my problem," I say.
Apparently unphased by my statement, Sarah Jane says, "And I have just the person for you, too."
"And who might that be?" I ask with a hint of curiosity.
"There's this really cute attorney at my office, and he's just the man for the job." Being a legal secretary for over 10 years at Ungaretti & Harris, one of Chicago's most prestigious law firms, Sarah Jane always has the skinny on all the Eligibles.
"And what job is that?" I ask.
"The job of getting John out of your system, and if that isn't enough he's also a writer. He writes screenplays, I think."
Being a writer myself, I am very fond of others who write as well. Though I am somewhat interested in Sarah Jane's proposal, I know it will take more than a handsome face to make me forget about John David. "What's his name?" I ask.
I am not exactly jumping for joy with the prospect of being set up, but maybe meeting someone new might be exactly what I need to ease me out of this lull I find myself in. If I have learned anything from my disappointing relationship with John, it is to never date an unavailable man.
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Genre - Romance
Rating – PG-13
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