In all of our talk about the future, Liz never really cared what kind of business she ran, she just wanted it to be hers and be in charge. I always knew I wanted to own a candy and cookie shop.
As far back as I can remember I was always in the kitchen covering something in chocolate or baking cookies. My dad always joked that I could never sneak up on him because he could smell the chocolate on me from a mile away. I was pretty sure it leaked out of my pores at this point. I was so happy that my best friend's dream was coming true. I tried not to dwell too much on the fact that my dream was going on the back burner until God knew when.
I missed seeing Liz every day once I moved back home, and I was sad that my future needed to be put on hold, but nothing was as depressing as going into labor on my twenty-first birthday. While all of my friends celebrated their twenty-first birthdays by drinking every alcoholic beverage on the menu, sitting on the floor of a public restroom while singing along to the music piped through the speakers and then hanging out of the passenger-side window of a car on the way home screaming, "I'M DRUNK FUCKERS!", I was stuck in a hospital trying not to punch every twat nurse in the face that kept telling me it wasn't time for my epidural.
I decided then and there that someday, I was going to be a labor and delivery consultant. I was going to stand next to every single woman in labor and every time a nurse or a doctor or hell, even the woman's husband said something stupid like, "Just breathe through the pain," it would be my job to squeeze the living fuck out of their reproductive organs until they were curled up in the fetal position asking for their mommies and I’d say “Just breathe through the pain, asshole!” And anyone that gave the new mother a dirty look after an eight pound, one ounce bloody, gooey, screaming pile of tiny human was cut out of her stomach when she asked her father to grab the bottle of vodka out of her overnight bag because, "morphine and vodka sounds like a stellar way to celebrate the birth of my spawn," would get their McJudgy glare smacked right off their face.
And I guess that brings us up to speed.
The next four years were spent working my ass off trying to make enough money to set aside for my future business, while raising my son and trying not to sell him to gypsies on a daily basis.
After a while, the search for Mr. Cherry Popper fell by the wayside as life got in the way. It didn't mean I never thought about him. Every time I looked at my son, I couldn't help but think about him. Everyone told me that Gavin looks exactly like me. And I guess he does to an extent. He has my nose, my lips, my dimples and my attitude. But his eyes were a whole other story. Every single day when I looked into the crystal blue pools of my son’s eyes, I saw his father. I saw the way the corners of his eyes crinkled when he laughed at something I said, I saw the way they sparkled when he animatedly told me a funny story and I saw the sincerity in them each time he brushed the hair out of my eyes that night. I wondered where he was, what he was doing and if "Heathers" was still one of his favorite movies. Every so often I would be struck with a sharp stab of guilt at the fact that this man would never get to meet his son, but it's not like I didn't try. There's only so much I could do. I wasn't about to put out an ad in the paper that says, "Hey, world! So this one time, at a frat party, I was a total slut and let a stranger go where no man has gone before and now I have a son. Won't you please help me find my baby daddy?"
Jim became more of a permanent fixture in my life as well as Liz’s. I probably talked to him on the phone as much as I did her. It was a no-brainer that the two of them would be Gavin's godparents. They spoiled him rotten and I liked to put all the blame on Liz for the mouth on that kid. I didn't think anyone screamed louder than I did when I found out Jim asked Liz to marry him and that they were going to move to Butler to be closer to her family and me. As soon as they moved back, Liz began tirelessly working and researching for the next few years to get a solid business plan in place. She told me a few months ago that she finally figured out what she wanted to sell, but she didn't want to tell me until she was certain she could do it. After that phone call, the most I saw of Liz was a blur as she ran from one appointment to the next. She was constantly on the phone with realtors and banks, running back and forth to her lawyer's office to sign paperwork and making daily trips up to the county court house to get all of the small business forms completed. I reluctantly agreed during a night of girl-time, after five too many dirty martinis, that I would help her out on a part-time basis as a consultant. I think my exact words were “I love you Liz. And I love vodka. I shall hug you and squeeze you and call you Lizdka.” Liz considered that a yes.