I can’t believe I don’t have a job. It hardly feels real to me.
Time distilled in the office with Eddy on Tuesday, our words mingling into an uncertain result. I could work out two weeks. I could work a week. I went home and started searching for jobs, ended up going uptown in the rain.
Ann Roxy was leaning out her doorway, into the hall. I had walked the almost-ten blocks to Grand Central, and then another 17 (not really) to her apartment building on York. And then I climbed six flights of marble stairs, wearing quilted leather shoes turned to mush. I’d worn my trench coat and carried my umbrella, but it was useless. I was soaked. She lent me socks and brought out the hair drier and we drank a bottle of white wine.
She broke up with her boyfriend. I broke up with my job. We sank into her couch and strategized on boys and work. The wine got the best of us; we each did a shot of Maker’s (“No,” I told her. “You can chill yours but you’re not chilling mine.”)
I suggested we go to the Penrose on Second Ave and E. 82nd Street. It’s a good spot, but I hardly had a chance to explore it, because we didn’t make it past the bar. Maker’s on the Rocks. Two guys who had been sitting already solicited conversation, a banter began, with Ann Roxy performing. She’s an actress and, I’m slowly realizing, always competing for the center of attention. Two guys: one, I can’t remember his name, lives in Chicago and was pretty nice. The second, Jordan, lives on the UES and is an asshole. He’d said something, or a couple of things, and ruined my fun. Ann Roxy, who was relishing in their attention, turned to me and said, “Don’t be a bitch.”
“Do not talk to me that way,” I said very slowly.
I paid my tab (our tab, which is further irritating) and started to go. Jordan stopped me. He had been sitting the furtherest away from me, but then came over, beside. (At this point, the guy Ann Roxy has a crush on had shown up to see her, and she was sitting in the bar stool with both of her legs thrown over his.) Jordan engaged me about my job–my unemployment, rather–my passion for restaurants.
“I’m opening a restaurant,” he said. “And you’re the GM.”
“No,” I said.
“Who do you want as your chef? You have all the money in the world.”
“You’re working backwards,” I said. “A restaurant often revolves around its chef. Or.” It doesn’t have to be that kind of restaurant. Often, that’s not the kind of restaurant that I love. I told him my best friend’s name. “He lives in New Orleans now. He was an exec for the Ralph Brennen Group there but he quit. He’s the now the Director of Culinary Operations for the — Group. That’s huge.”
“Wait a minute. Wait. You don’t want a chef in the city?”
“I’m not from the city,” I said. “But you wanted me.”
“Alright,” he said. “From New Orleans.”
“It’s a culinary capitol of America. And his food is the best, the best I’ve ever had.”
“What sort of cuisine.”
“I don’t know.”
“Because I really love pasta. And their wine. But it’s up to chef.”
It was nearly an exercise. He was hammering me for answers and I was getting them out. Slowly, I see that I’m all passion, but with very little knowledge. I’ve got to learn, experience. I need to know so many things.
“I don’t think I’ll get there,” I admitted. The LNYC has me down.
“You will…” Jordan said. “You have something.” He stopped, looked at me. “You have what it takes. You will succeed here.”
Later, afterwards, outside, I was standing in the alcove irritated with Ann Roxy and the progress of my night. “Can I have your number?” Jordan asked.
“Why do you want my number?” (Maker’s Mark…) “Why don’t you ask Roxy?”
“Are you kidding?” He said. “It was you. You were the one I was watching, from the second you came into the place. You were the one I tried to talk to.”
He had been awfully attentive, if a jerk. I’d lead us into the bar, hung up my trench coat. Then I had strewn off my glasses, taken down my curly hair from its self-sufficient bun. I was wearing a beaded headband. He had said at the start that I walked into the place as if I owned it (“You don’t understand,” I said, “how I feel about restaurants and bars. I’m managing every place I walk into. I can’t help it.”) and he had remarked on the glasses coming off, the hair coming down.
I entered my number into his phone. I’m uncertain why. Really, it must have only been because he asked. He didn’t try to kiss me or anything weird. I didn’t want him to. I think he’s attractive but I’m not attracted to him, too much of a jerk. (Throughout all of this, I’d drunkenly texted Anthony: “Why are people so mean!” and, later, at 1:18am, “Ps at this bar they have the terrible kelso nut brown beer and I did not order it!” Which is a terrible (craft?) beer I’d ordered at the bar where he and I had first kissed.)
Jordan hailed a cab, opened the door.
Later that night, after I’d gotten home and into bed, Jordan texted: Hope you made it home safe Elizabeth. Great mtg you, sorry to hear about your bf and your job. But I’m an asshole, I know . Let’s see each other again soon… Sweetdreams.
Half an hour later–after failing to convince myself not to reply, for fear I’d be mean–I texted back, Thanks Jordan. You’re not too bad after all =)
I woke up the next morning and called my boss, Eddy, who didn’t answer. So I sent him a text: Hey Eddy, I think it’s probably best if we call yesterday my last. If you need me to come in and host, etc. I’m happy to do so, as that’s what we agreed upon yesterday. I am counting on you for a good reference. Let me know.
An hour later he replied that he would only require exit notes on all of the events. I went in wearing the tee shirt I’d slept in, with a pair of hunter green J Brand jeans (unbelievably tight) and flats and a scarf and blazer. My hair was unkempt, in curls and waves. I kept trying to decamp from the office, but Eddy (who has always been particular) wanted all of this information compiled in a single document, so that he could make no effort whatsoever to pick up where I was leaving off. One of the staff had left behind Laduree macaroons and emailed to say I could have them. Literally sweet.
A strange relief to walk away, that was. I had retracted the two-weeks notice because I felt that it inhibited and prolonged what I need to do. I have to find a new job. I’ve applied to four places already, but I’ve got to keep going. It isn’t going to be easy, and although I’ve got a little bit of money saved up, I’m uncertain. What will I make of Manhattan? Better question: what will Manhattan make of me?
There’s more. There’s always more.