Living in Texas can be awesome. Or awful.
Like during the winter. I turn the car off and sigh at the blinking bank billboard across the street from the Starbucks parking lot that keeps repeating: 5:34 p.m. . . . 74˚ . . . 5:34 p.m. . . . 74˚.
So I am late, and snow is nowhere near the immediate future. It’s January for goodness’ sake. I climb out of my used Camry that I’ve scrimped and saved for two years to buy and trudge into the Starbucks where my best friend, Layla Prestwick, is waiting for me.
She has an enormous smile across on her face, and she doesn’t even bother with a greeting or volume control when she sees me. “Paige! I am getting married!” she screeches, grabbing me in a hug so tight I can’t even choke out a congratulations.
I grin just the same. I knew it was coming. I had an idea after reading her text that brought me here today.
YOU MUST MEET WITH ME @ STARBUCKS ASAP! HERE IS A CLUE: <>O
An inkling, anyway.
“I’m so excited for you!” I say, when she loosens her grip a little bit. “Macchiato is on me today.” I order us both caramel macchiatos while Layla talks a hundred miles a minute about how her used-to-be-boyfriend-now-fiancé, Peter, proposed.
“So we were just sitting there on his couch watching a movie like we always do on Sunday nights and he is like hey Layla I love you and I am like yeah Peter I love you too and then he suddenly is handing me a ring and it is soooo special and I couldn’t believe it so I started screaming and I am pretty sure I woke up his entire apartment complex and then the cops showed up because his downstairs neighbors thought Peter had gone postal or something but they were really nice and then told me congratulations and here’s the ring!”
She shoves her left hand over to me, a solitaire, sparkling in the lights.
For all the zero-breaths-taken during Layla’s engagement story, I’m not about to confess to her I think Peter’s way of proposing is pretty lame.
Compared to all of Layla’s passion and exuberance and romance, Peter is about the dullest person on the planet in my opinion, maybe right behind that Thinker statue everyone is so enamored with. I just don’t see what Layla sees in him. And I really don’t get the fascination with The Thinker either.
He is thinking. Got it.
It’s about the same reaction I had to Peter. For all intents and purposes, Peter will make a great groom. He is male, he will show up to the wedding, and he will have no opinions about the ceremony or reception. He is like a Ken doll with dark hair and without the great facial bone structure. I’d compared him to a head of lettuce before. Not to Layla, obviously. But to my mom.
My mother doesn’t think it’s very nice of me to compare one of God’s creatures to a head of lettuce. Until I pointed out that a head of lettuce was created by God too.
“Paige, he’s a person for goodness’ sake. You can’t just arbitrarily decide you don’t like someone.”
I’ve known Peter for almost four years. I am pretty certain I’m not being arbitrarial, or however you say that grammatically correct.
You know how there’s always that one person that you just don’t like, and you don’t really know why?
Mine is Peter.
All that aside, I’m happy for Layla. She’s been wanting to get married since we were eight and she was a flower girl for her cousin’s wedding.
She’s still talking. “We’ve already set a date.” She grins around her Starbucks paper cup. “It’s going to be this fall. October 25. And it’s going to be outside at that park with the gazebo at sunset. And then we’re going to have the reception somewhere where we can dance. And you have to be my maid of honor.”
I nod, because of course I will be her maid of honor. We decided this years ago.
I take a sip of my macchiato and pull my planner out of my purse. The cover is denim that I’ve sewn and decorated with daisy embroidery.
“Better use a pen to write that one down.” Layla giggles. “Because you are not rescheduling my wedding!”
Layla knows my habits well. I roll my eyes and dig in my purse until I find a black Bic pen and start writing.
It looks weird writing it down. Weird and final.
Like when I finally paid attention to the expiration date on the milk in my fridge and realized I’d been drinking milk a week past due.
Layla is getting married. Married. Like a grown-up does. And instead of being overwhelmingly happy like I always thought I’d be, I suddenly just feel overwhelmed. And maybe a little sad. I am going to be twenty-three in three months. And while my mom likes to remind me that she had been married a year by the time she was my age, I am not ready.