Monday, February 25, 2013

The Manny Journals, continued.
(If this is new to you, please scroll down to the bottom of the page and start with chapter 1. Where I also explain what The Manny Journals are and why I'm posting these chapters!)

Chapter 5: First Contact
The phone rings five times before Sydney answers.
“Blake?” She sets down the phone and groans. “It’s six in the morning!”
“Yeah, sorry, I don’t set United’s schedule,” I mutter. I’m not exactly happy to be awake at six in the morning either, but United’s cheapest flight to D.C. departs at 6:30. Despite the early hour, the flight proves popular. Over a hundred other passengers share the waiting area with me, most of them also lost in their own worlds of Internet browsing or cell phone conversations.
Sydney yawns twice more before she’s ready to resume the conversation. “So. What’s up?”
“Me. Pretty soon at least.”
“Yeah, cute. Seriously. It’s not like you to call so early in the morning just for the hell of it.”
Have to love Sydney—always to the point. “Can’t a guy just call his best friend to chat?” I ask, feigning offense.
“The only time you ever call is when you’re in deep shit or upset about something. If you just wanted to chat, we’d be sitting at Starbucks.” Sydney’s tone is sharp but not unkind.
“Touché.” Sydney has an uncanny ability to call me on my BS. “I guess it’s just that I’m sitting here, leaving home, and it feels totally surreal. Yesterday it was like it’s all going to be an adventure. Now the reality’s starting to really set in.”
“That’s normal, I think. If it helps, pretty much everyone’s probably feeling the same way right about now, or will be soon at least. Everyone’s going their own way now, doing different things.” By everyone, Sydney means our other graduating classmates.
“Yeah, that’s true. But most people aren’t moving across the country to take a job they never imagined working six months ago.”
“You’d be surprised,” Sydney says. She pauses, but then quickly adds, “But I get what you’re saying.”
“Thanks.” It’s nice that somebody understands.
“Still, it’s something you’re excited about, isn’t it?”
“Sure, I’m excited about it. Though I also have to admit that I’m a bit nervous. I don’t completely know what to expect.” Truth be told, I’m more than a little nervous. I never told Sydney about how Mrs. Jensen ambushed me at her party, though, so I don’t want to show how anxious I’m really feeling. If I let that slip, Sydney would be sure to find a way to pull the whole story out of me.
A moment of silence lingers between us before Sydney fills it. “Does anyone ever completely know what to expect with a new job? You’ll pull through. You know I respect what you’re doing, but in the end, keeping a few kids out of trouble can’t be that hard, can it?”
I snicker. “I guess you’re right. I just need to relax and have some fun with this.”
“Exactly! That’s the spirit.” A vision of Sydney as my life coach fills my mind. Banishing the image, I decide to wrap up the conversation. Sydney is right. It seems like every time I call her I either need something or I’m being needy.
“Listen, I gotta go. They’re starting to board. I promise I’ll call sometime soon. And it’ll just be to talk!”
Sydney laughs. I’ve always loved that laugh. For some reason, the sound of her laughter reminds me of a fairy tale’s happily-ever-after ending. “Okay,” she says. “I’ll hold you to that. You take care. And don’t forget to smile.”
“Thanks, I will. Bye.”
The plane isn’t really boarding, but it will be in a few minutes. Within a half hour, I’ll be on the way to the nation’s capital to start my new life.