He broke up with me in Sarah’s, though perhaps “breakup” isn’t the right word. It felt more like a sacking. After he texted me for the nth time that night asking where I was and I told him, and he walked in some time later and saw me leaning against the wall, clutching a Red Horse longneck, giggling as some guy shot me a pickup line in my tank top and short shorts, he took a deep breath and huffed and walked right back out. And I, I just gave his retreating back the stink eye and chugged down the rest of my beer and flung the bottle at the coconut tree and ordered another one and cried. At least when I got the axe that day my supervisor took me aside and said some shit like “I’m sorry to tell you this, Dex, but you’re not bringing value to the company. We’re letting you go.” At least I got to write a slightly politer version of “fuck you and fuck this shit” in a letter and slam it on her desk the following morning before I hightailed it out of that zombie lair they call an ad firm. But him, he just walked out on me. Refused to take my calls. Didn’t let me go so much as throw me away. I’m so mad I don’t even dare ask for my DVDs back as I might just crush them under my foot—think you’re too good for me? You hadn’t even heard of Inarrítu or Chan-Wook or Breillat before I met you, asshole.
God, that felt so good to write.
So here I am jobless, loveless, slumped on my best friend’s bed, smoking her Marlboro menthols, fixing my portfolio and revising the crap out of my resumé on her MacBook Pro while babysitting her dog for the day. Maybe later I’ll also make an infographic on why guys should totally date me, complete with a pie chart of my awesomeness. Because self-pity is for chumps. And I gotta land a gig soon as the 86 pesos in my wallet won’t buy me enough beer to keep me going for long.
Lee, my best friend, doesn’t drink beer. Says it makes you fat. She fills her fridge with vegetable juice, her cupboard with protein shakes, granola bars, and green coffee plus, and her bedside drawer with cigarettes. Lighting stick after stick keeps my hunger at bay, but god my throat feels so dry. Lee’s out of mineral water too, probably forgot to have the gallons delivered, so I guess I’ll have to go for tap. Beggars can’t be choosers.
I hop off the bed and go to the kitchen, passing the plush sofa in the living room where I’ve been sleeping for the past three weeks. Lee’s not the type to share her room with anyone, not even me, no matter how much I whine about my aching back. She and I have been buddies since our freshman year in college, when we took that intro to lit. class under a terror prof. I almost got kicked out of the class during the first week of school for failing to read the assigned text. Lee saved my ass by slipping me a copy of the reading with the important stuff highlighted just as the professor called my name for recitation. She’s been bossing me around ever since. That’s not to say I’m not grateful—I do need a Lee figure in my life, and at least she doesn’t nag me as much as my mother, who turns every little trouble into high-octane drama fuel. Usually she just hangs with me, reading some book or typing away on her laptop, while I rant about the traffic or the weather or the stinky stuck-up guard at the condo lobby who always asks me about my “business” here though he’s seen me get into the elevator a thousand times. But when it comes to reminding me about important deadlines and to-do’s (email resumés, show up for interviews, get clearance and back pay, sort through closet for stuff to sell in garage sale, cancel credit card, etc.), she’s more relentless than that woman in The Devil Wears Prada. Honestly, I don’t know what she gets out of our friendship. Maybe she sees me as one of her development projects. Or maybe she’s just lonely, like everyone else. Lee doesn’t have a lot of friends.
I fill the kettle with water from the faucet and set it on the stove. While waiting for the water to boil, I play with Atticus, Lee’s golden retriever. The only time I see her features soften and her posture relax is when she talks to the dog while brushing his silky brown fur or giving him biscuits in exchange for tricks. Lee’s parents live abroad and she has no brothers or sisters, so Atticus is the closest she has to family. And then there’s me.
I pour boiling water into a mug of instant coffee with chocolate and crack an egg over the mixture, stirring it with a teaspoon until the egg cooks in the heat. I place the mug on the table, grab a granola bar, and prepare to send more emails.
My name is Dexter de Luna. My parents, both academics, named me after that genius cartoon character before they found out I was a girl, thereby consigning me to a life of flunking expectations. I am now 22. A year out of art school, I am still flitting from job to job and fling to fling, waiting for a break or an epiphany, and wondering if this is what I’ll be doing for the rest of my hopefully short life.
I’m attempting to write a novel, tentatively titled Maginhawa Street Crawl, set in UP Village, in that eponymous street of culinary delights. It began as a diversion from the philosophy paper I was writing in April, and its continuation got waylaid by my preoccupation with work and school. I’m trying to get back to writing it, though, and hope to finish it within the year.