“I’m seeing what’s out there, but I haven’t applied anywhere. I’ve been helping Cameron out with some business stuff at the gym. Otherwise just kind of taking a break. Trying to figure out where to go from here.”
“I’m sure Cameron is psyched to be able to spend more time with you.”
I stalled, unsure of where to start. I didn’t really want to get into where things stood with Cameron right now, but I’d have to eventually. Thankfully the server came and took our orders. I hoped that would distract her, but her focus was fully trained on me, a concerned look in her eye.
Vanessa must have read the hesitation on my face. “Are you two still together? What did I miss?”
“We’re kind of taking a break.”
“Was that your decision?”
“What did he do? Was he a jerk to you?”
I laughed. “Twenty questions, Vanessa.”
She threw her hands up. “I’m out of the loop. Seriously, fill me in. Fast. Who knows when I’ll be beckoned again?”
I sighed. “He wasn’t a jerk.” Far from it. He’d been sweet and poured his heart out to me.
“Well, what happened? For f**k’s sake, spill it.”
“He kind of proposed.”
A deep groove marked her brow. “How does one ‘kind of propose’?”
“I guess you get about half way there before the person you’re proposing to gets that deer-in-headlights look and stops you before you can get down on one knee.”
“What? You stopped him? Why?”
I thought back to that moment. I’d stopped him in his tracks. I hadn’t wanted to hurt him, to play out the old memory that had ended terribly for us both. My anxiety that night had reminded me of the certain misery I would face if I said no, yet I was gripped with what it meant to say yes.
“Vanessa, I lost my job, his mom basically told me outright I was trash, and I’m trying this new thing where I don’t drown my problems in booze. It was too much. If I’d put one more emotionally intense situation on my plate, I was going to snap.”
“So you told him no?”
“I told him I needed time. I didn’t say yes or no. I mean, we talk and we’ve seen each other a few times, but the break has been good for me. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and sort of get balanced again. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this…I don’t know, stable, I guess.”
“But you haven’t addressed the proposal at all since then?”
“No. In fact we haven’t addressed much of anything. He’s been kind of distant the past couple times I’ve been by.”
She laughed. “No s**t.”
“I think if I proposed to a guy, which by the way will never happen, and he didn’t give me the answer I wanted, I wouldn’t be throwing myself at him afterwards.”
“Thanks.” I rolled my eyes.
“I’m not trying to make you feel bad, but have you thought about what he’s going through? You’ve been dying over this guy for years. Yet you’ve shot him down twice, and he’s still in this. That’s nothing short of a miracle.”
“I don’t want to rush into something that emotionally I can’t see through. I’m being responsible for once.”
“Maya, listen to me.” She leaned forward, her eyes gentler. “You love Cameron. I can see that. I’m pretty sure someone would need to be legally blind not to see what you two have. But I’m not you. I don’t know what it must be like to live in that hurricane of emotion, and I sure as hell can’t tell you when to take that leap. I just want you to be happy, and I don’t want to see the person who makes you happy walk because you can’t bite the bullet. ”
The server brought our food, briefly interrupting Vanessa’s rant. I felt sick suddenly. Vanessa’s reaction made all my self-assurances these past few weeks seem shallow and absurd. My eyes welled up with thick tears. I blinked them away before they could fall.
“He does make me happy,” I whispered. “Like I never knew what being happy truly meant until he found me.”
“Stop fighting it then. Be happy. You deserve happiness, and Jesus, so does he. He’s so crazy in love with you, Maya.”
“I just wanted to have a chance to be better for him, for both of us, you know?”
Her lips curved into a sympathetic smile. “Honey, I think all he probably wants is you. Just the way you are.”
Vanessa’s eyes glistened, and my heart twisted more. I was grateful she cared as much as she did. Her phone lit up a second later. She groaned before answering it with a forced smile. After a few terse words, she hung up.