I got a lead in Jackson for a 6 month public relations internship, followed by an opportunity to be hired into the company. Let’s be honest: I slept through the two PR classes I had to take. But I dropped my resume online and was called almost immediately for an interview. This was a good sign, I could feel it.
29 North was an upcoming and coming public relations company, branding themselves as “edgy” and “a new generation” company (whatever that meant). I spent the weekend on Google, gathering information on them in preparation. I need to seem more qualified than I’m sure I was.
Even though I sat in traffic for 27 minutes, I was still early for my interview. I gave myself the once over before I got out of the car, making sure my barely-there makeup hadn’t melted off in the summer heat. I second guessed my curly ‘do but since I had no products and no time to change it, I left it alone. Inside, the receptionist, a young, floppy haired guy, directed me to the seating area until the manager was available.
I watched the clock hands turn past my interview time. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. 12 minutes past before the door behind the reception desk opened and two women exited the room, laughing at an unheard joke. The first woman was tall and tan and looked as though she belonged in a surf competition versus an office setting. The manager was shorter and olive toned, with shiny, brown hair. “Ashley, it was so good seeing you again. You will definitely be hearing from me.”
Well, fuck you Ashley, I thought. I was tempted to just gather my belongings and leave in premature defeat. No, I thought further, burying my doubts in steely resolve. They may not know each other. She’s probably some loser who keeps applying for this job, I thought, attempting to lie to myself. Their looks told the truth. “Ashley” glanced at me, a smug look of accomplishment on her face as she exited the building. The brunette’s face had settled into a more serious look, a vain attempt at looking serious, I suppose. “Hello, I’m Pamela Green,” she said, extending her hand as I approached her. I put on my best smile and marched forward to another guillotine.
I blamed my mint green top, my lack of experience and my “edgy” hair for my fuck up. I coasted home, lost in thought of where I could have improved and what to change in the future. Pamela didn’t seem too interested in anything I was saying. She barely held eye contact: between reading questions from a sheet of paper in front of her (and not writing down my answers) and glancing up at my hair, she was a little preoccupied. It may have been because she had already chosen a candidate.
Dad’s truck was gone when I got home. I had hoped my mom was gone as well. I needed a little uninterruped sulking time. I took the side door of the house, a shortcut to the stairs that led to my room. Mom was standing in the kitchen, her music playing overhead, as she washed dishes. She looked over at me and grinned. “How’d it go, sweetie?” she half-yelled over her music. I grumbled and continued down the stairs.
The bowl was oversized and almost full of ice cream. Pistachio, my favorite. “Thanks Mom,” I said as she plopped down next to me and threw her arm around me. “Obviously they’re idiots for not hiring you on the spot.” I grunted, sticking more ice cream in my mouth. “You remember Angie from the bookstore?”
“Well she’s having her baby soon and she’ll need someone to mind the bookstore for a while.”
“That’s not my bag, Mom.”
“Of course it is. You love reading.”
“Yeah, as a hobby…” And I hadn’t read a book in 6 months.
“Yeah well, still…I can put in a word for you. I’m sure she’ll love for you to do it.” I said nothing and concentrated on chewing a particularly large nut. Mom kissed me on the cheek and got up to go back upstairs. “Think about it, Ladybug.”
Angela was the first lesbian I ever knew. She was me and Jess’ babysitter for about 3 years and she used to invite over her “friend” when our parents left. I always thought she was a platonic friend until I saw them making out on the couch. I never mentioned it to anyone, not even Angela or Jess. Now 34, she and her fiance decided they would go through artificial insemination to have their first child. I walked into the bookstore, located in the center of town. I hadn’t been to the bookstore before, since all my visits were almost too short to visit my family. The store seemed like something straight out of a novel itself: high shelves filled with an array of books, several tables with computer setups and a half circle counter in the center, holding the register and several stacks of books and mini displays. Angela stood behind the register, very pregnant, her dark brown hair pulled through a banana clip, further exposing the shaved quarter of her head and her overly pierced ear. As I got closer, I could see her forehead was damp from sweat. She was finishing an order when she saw me. “Erica? Oh my God,” she said, coming from around the counter. She pulled me into an embrace and her stomach pressed into mine. “Oh wow, look at you!” I said. She grinned and rubbed her belly. “I know, right? I’m almost there, finally.”
“When are you due?”
“First of September but the way the kid’s kicking, he won’t make it.”
“He? It’s a boy?”
“Yeah, we’re naming him Oscar,” she said.
Another short-haired woman, wearing skinny jeans and a muscle tank, came next to me. “Speaking of, this is my fiance, Vivian. Viv, this is Erica. I used to babysit her and her sister.” Vivian smiled and shook my hand, squeezing it a little too tight. “Congrats, you guys, that’s amazing.”
“So your mom says you’re interested in helping out around here.”
“Just for a while. I’m only back together in town for a while.”
“That’s fine. It’s only for a few months after the baby.”
I really didn’t want to commit to working here at all. I had only been there to discuss the options, since my mom had already talked me up. The trip felt more like a training day than a discussion. Angela walked me through the store, discussing hours, procedures, processing as well as a myriad of other process for working there. I ended up being there for 2 hours. I made up some excuse to leave my unofficial job training and walked to Starbucks two doors down. I immediately thought of Juice. I called him but he didn’t answer the phone, even though I already knew what he was going to say. “It’s just a job. You don’t have to marry into it. Life would be perfect if we had a manual. Write your own.”
I sigh as I goose myself to start writing.