C2 Chapter 2
I didn't call him, not the first week nor the week after. Once I left the cafe, I chalked up the experience as a random encounter. Maybe I had felt attraction there, drawn by his attention and magnetic touch. But attraction was volatile and distracting, and my life didn’t need any more distractions. Past relationships already taught me that.
“So you're going to be spinster or what?” Nelly asked in between mouthfuls of Cheetos, her attention glued to our latest Netflix binge.
I cringed, watching my roommate wipe orange stained hands on her shirt. “You're so old, no one uses that word anymore.”
“Old my butt. And no sane person should be turning down hot guys who's practically drooling to see them.”
“Only the sensible ones.”
“In that case, sign me up for the freight train.”
“First of all, he's too charming to drool. Second, guys like him are fickle; they change attention with the seasons. I'll just end up cast aside when the next person catches his eyes.”
She launched a Cheetos at me. “Stop right there, you're no one's castaway. I'll dump this whole bag on you if you keep talking like that.”
I threw my hands up in concession, mostly to avoid her barrage. Nelly was a hopeless romantic and perpetually single because she believed in soulmates and love at first sights and yadda, yadda, yadda. We met during rush week in university where she practically adopted me into her social circle. She was the brash to my calm, the rum to my coke, and I couldn't ask for a crazier, or more loyal, friend.
“It doesn't matter. It's a big city, we probably won't cross paths again,” I said.
My roommate smiled slyly. “Famous last words.”
I didn't lose Jules' number, as tempting as it was to erase it from my notepad. I carried it around in my little purse, going back and forth between work and my apartment downtown. It was a familiar routine, one that I had kept since moving to the city two years ago. All around me, the city buzzed with sleepless energy. Screeching buses and sirens carried with the wind, and hot dog stands that lined every block heated the air. On weekdays on the financial district, you could practically feel the rush of commuters with every heartbeat. It was like a living, pulsing concrete jungle.
My parents found it odd that I'd chosen to settle in such a frenzy corner of the world. “It's no place for you,” my mother coaxed.
“Too messy, look at all those people. Come back home.”
Home was in the suburbs by the west coast where I grew up. It was quiet and orderly, and I moved away as soon as I turned legal. Something just didn't sit well with me, that suburban life with its sleepy cul-de-sac. I might love routines but I wanted to find order while surrounded in a city that burned with energy. Some hated living in concrete chaos, where one could take the same bus every day and never see a familiar face. But I loved it here.
“I'm back!” Nelly called out as the front door slammed. I looked up from my drawing pad just as she heaved a canvas bag onto the counter.
“Whew, these things are heavy.” She brushed blonde locks from her face. “You think I can skip the gym? Carrying that was like an upper body workout.”
I eyed the bag suspiciously. Knowing Nelly, it could range from a mundane grocery trip to a completely insane purchase. “What have you got there?”
She flashed a huge grin. “My spiritual guide recommended all these stuff that I should pick up.”
“Your spiritual guy?” I stared at her blankly.
“Guide,” she stressed the last syllable. “Kind of like a life coach, but way cooler. Plus he reads my tarot cards.”
Insane it was then.
“Are they like the urban hippies that do mushrooms and collect crystals?” I poked at the bag dubiously. “Is this a new phase for you, like how you went Paleo last year?”
“Kit Kat, you're being judge-y now.” Nelly started rummaging through the bag, pulling out a sparkling rod of amethyst and a deck of cards. She slammed them on the counter with a triumphant grin.
“Check out my oracle cards. They're hand illustrated by a local artist. I got them in pink themes, aren't they pretty?” She cooed, shuffling through the deck.
I glanced at the clock. It was a quarter past noon, maybe she had one too many coffees. “Nelle, where is this coming from? You said last week you were joining a meditation group. Crystals and card readings aren’t part of the package.”
“They're not. But Matt, the group leader there, was telling me about this retreat he hosts on the side. Like meditating in the woods and crystal healing. It's fascinating stuff, Kat. He's all about projecting good energy and attracting it in return.”
“And you're planning to go along with it?”
“Yes, it sounds fun! And Matt has offered to be my spiritual guide. I know it sounds sketchy, but I'm all for it. Maybe he can teach me the ways of getting good chakra.”
“Sounds like weird voodoo to me.”
“It’s not voodoo. It’s magic.”
I was not convinced. “Don’t be silly, magic doesn’t exist.”
“Don’t rain on my parade. I’m going to magic my way into the success of life.”
“You're the cheeriest person out there. Nelle, you don't need some stranger selling you on crystals and whatnot.”
“But how cool would it be if this worked?” She practically bounced on her toes. When she got like that, it was better to leave her be; she was excitable and stubborn to her core. This new phase should fizzle out eventually. “Imagine me with all the good energy. All of it,” she continued. “I'll finally attract my soulmate. Heck, I'll even find you one.”