For someone who declares herself a planner, plotting my escape to Manhattan was not at all thought out. And in hindsight, knowing then, what I know now, I don’t think I would have done any of this.
But about three years ago, at exactly 5 pm on a very humid August day I darted out of an air-conditioned office, into the heat, and into an even hotter car. Summer in Minnesota could be as unbearable as winter in January. The warm air is so thick with humidity and the cold air is so brittle that breathing literally hurts. Once I asked my father what possessed him to move from monsoon-ridden New Delhi to tundra-crusted Minneapolis. He emphatically stated snow sounded like fun. Well, sure. Until you have to drive in it, dig your car out from under it, and use gasoline powered blowers to relocate your driveway that insists on playing hide and seek with Alberta Clippers for six months. It gets old --- FAST!
I got home and did my routine --- watched the news, worked out, ate dinner, poured a martini. I then grabbed my phone and went directly into voicemail. I hung up and sat on the couch, doing what I don’t do so well, waiting. To pass my time I flipped through a book. I was re-reading stories about the Indian goddesses.
Just as I got restless my phone rang. Yes! It was Jane, my chum from graduate school who I had not spoken to in three years, calling back! Immediately I picked up and we squealed and shrieked into the phone in that long-lost, high-pitched way women do.
“Hi sweetie!” Jane gushed.
“Jane! Oh my God! How ARE you?” I shrieked back.
“I’m in the car driving back from the Catskills," Jane stated.
“How is New York? Tell me everything!”
“Everything is great! I got a new job and I love it. It’s with one of the 10 best PR firms in the country.”
I mused. This meant Jane was working for the 10th best firm. Much like my sorority rush days when we proudly boasted, “we’re one of the four largest national sorority organizations.” Translation: we are number four.
“How about you? Are you still writing?” Jane asked over satellite static and a few seconds of dead air. I didn’t think there was dead air in New York.
Ever since I was fifteen I wanted to be a writer. “Yes I am re-writing a collection of short stories into a novel and I have an agent."
“That is so great! Is the same stuff I read when we were in grad school?”
“Yes. Only edited and better. She actually sent them to a publishing house. But they were rejected. I guess short story collections are the hardest thing to publish.”
“Well hang in there, sweetie. How are you otherwise? How is Minneapolis?”
I groaned my reply. “I feel like I am suffocating. Maybe I need to move?”
“Oh my God, I agree.” Until that moment I didn’t realize how much I needed someone to validate me. “What are you still doing there? I always thought you were a misfit there. Get out of that po-dunk town. Minneapolis is a just big city made up of people from smaller cities.”
Jane is from a small town in North Dakota, population 12,000, probably 11,997 now that she and her siblings have left. A town so small that the ubiquitous Gap and Starbucks franchises have not found her hometown. Jack, Jane’s boyfriend, is from a smaller town on a bluff overlooking Rapid City. Yet, I am from po-dunk, interesting.
“I’ll need an apartment,” I replied.
“I’ll help you find one.”
Translation: Jane was going to have Jack help me.