“You know I like my back-up plans,” Linden goes on. “So we made a pact. If neither one of us are in a serious relationship when we hit thirty, we get married.”
James blinks at us before tucking a strand of his shaggy black hair behind his ears. “This is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard of.”
Linden raises his chin. “Aw, don’t be jealous, man.”
James scoffs. “I’m not jealous. The two of you in a marriage? World’s pickiest woman with the world’s biggest manwhore? Yeah, have fun with that.”
“Hey,” I say indignantly. I’m not that picky.
But Linden takes no offense. “Oh we will. So why don’t you pop open some champagne to celebrate with us?”
James gives him a pointed look. “Are you the one buying?”
He shrugs. “It’s our pre-engagement present from you.”
James sighs heavily, like he has some weight on his shoulders, but concedes. He always concedes to Linden. “Fine,” he says, and brings out a bottle of sparkling wine from the fridge. It pops open with a flourish and he pours it into Mason jar glasses.
We cheers to the pact once again and then lapse into our normal conversation about the latest bands, movies, TV shows, hockey (James and Linden are huge fans of the San Jose Sharks).
I sip my drink and can’t help but feel the slightest bit relieved. In five years, all the dating and the strife could be over. In five years, there’s the tiniest possibility that I could marry my best friend.
I wonder if five years is long enough to change my mind.
The sun is streaming through my bedroom window, highlighting the dark hair on the arms and legs of the man next to me. I’m all for hair on a man, but he didn’t seem like that much of a gorilla in the bar last night. Then again, I was pretty drunk. I think I had been doing the robot until monkey man grabbed me and kissed the dance away.
I groan and roll over away from him. He doesn’t move an inch and I’m having a hard time remembering his name. I’m not even sure we had sex, until I spy a discarded condom halfway between the bed and the trashcan. Gross. Responsible, but gross.
It had been my birthday party last night at the Tiki Lounge downtown, which explains not only my one-night stand and raging headache but the flower leis tossed over the edges of the bed. I feel a pang of disappointment – I had wanted to usher in the new age with some new rules (aka, stop drinking so much on the weekends, stop sleeping with random guys) and it seems my first day of twenty-six was a total failure.
I slowly make my way out of the bed and grab a nightshirt from the drawer, throwing it on and then cinching it with a robe. The hairy dude continues to sleep and for a moment I fear that maybe he’s actually dead until I see his back rise up and down.
Once in the bathroom I take a good long look at myself in the mirror. I know I probably look the exact same to anyone else, but something in me has changed. My face has a golden glow leftover from summer but it’s a bit bloated and puffy, my eyes are blue and round but a bit crinkly at the corners. My hair was cut into a sleek dark red bob the other day, but now looks greasy and limp. Most of all, I just look tired. And not because I had spent most of my night drinking Mai Tais, drunk leaning on my friends and dancing with strange dudes, but because I am tired.
I’m so fucking tired of working toward a goal and never really getting there. I thought by twenty-six I’d finally have my shit figured out but it only feels like I’m halfway there.
By twenty-six I had wanted to be living in my own place, but I still share an apartment with my friend Kayla. Let’s face it, San Francisco is obscenely expensive and without the second part of my plan, I can’t really afford to live on my own.