Flying Out By: Alexandra Ares CHAPTER 1 Eclipse of the skyscrapers Kitty was gazing at the icy Manhattan skyline from her window at the 37th floor feeling suffocated and wanting somehow to fly out. The East River was glittering like a silver highway under the cloudy sky whispering to her that the world outside was bigger than her dreams and she should dare to roll the dice. It was the coldest January day in years, and all the other 1,537,195 legal and illegal residents of Manhattan were happy to stay inside their warm apartments. The chilly air was cutting like a knife, the streets were deserted, and the very few people who happened to be on the streets were rushing towards cars, cabs, buses, subway stations and buildings as if the end of the world was about to come. Yes, outside it was freezing cold, but it seemed so more appealing than the inside. She wanted to get the hell out. Kitty turned her back to the window. Her living room was crammed with big carton boxes, some wrapped, others brimming with clothes waiting to be closed and sealed up. She was preparing to return back home for good. It was a bit like preparing a suicide. She wanted to kill her New York life. She had prepared that moment for many a month. It was time. Everything was taken care of. Shed carefully made all plans to leave. She had come to Manhattan for a week, at a time when her life was excitingly ravaged by the explosion of freedom and opportunities in Eastern Europe, and she had no expectations of staying in the States. That week was seven years ago. A string of unexpected things happened and she never left. On her second night in New York, she met a man at a party who invited her to his penthouse and gave her a preview of American life. She was hardly impressed. In her native Eastern European capital penthouse apartments were for the poor. People wanted to stay close to the street level and paid top dollars for the apartments on the lower floors. No one cared for the urban poetry of the roofs. What if the elevator breaks? From his terrace they gazed in silence at the amazing view of midtown skyscrapers shimmering in the night. Looking down a hundred feet, Kitty could not forget her fascination with the river of yellow cabs vigorously streaming between the skyscrapers at an hour when all streets in her native Bucharest were deserted. It was a first time she was in a building so tall. And it was just the 18th floor. Everything was bigger and different from anything she had known in Europe. Even the newspaper laying on the table had more pages than all the daily newspapers in Bucharest combined. Ive recently came back from France, said Bill with a broad grin that unveiled a set of shockingly white teeth. In Eastern Europe with un-fluoridated water and most men smoking like a chimney, it was quite a trip to find forty-year olds with perfect teeth. Bill Harding was obviously different. Gleaming of vigor and cleanliness she could tell from afar he was American . Soon after I graduated college I went to Paris for a short vacation. I soon fell in love with a French model, had fun, then got married. I ended up staying there for seven years. Such a romantic story, she thought. Looking back, it seems such a waste of time! So love too, has to be productive in this country. But how do you quantify? He saw a flash in her eyes, took it as a signal to poured more champagne in her flute, then made a toast: Its good to be home. As if she was suddenly a part of his home. Home, what was home? Gazing at the city lights side by side with a stranger from another continent? Her first acting test to get into drama school had been to materialize the concept of home. It seemed so evident. Then the professor asked all these funny questions: Is it something you come from, or something you run from? Where ever you are, or wherever youre heading? She had no clue, improvised nothing, flunk the test. The next year, the drill was about seduction. She got admitted on top of the list. Bill Harding, then going through a divorce, told her about life having so many chapters, and how comfortable she made him feel. Confused, she listened to him, unable to fully understand. Comfortable was not a word a European man would have used to compliment a woman on a first date. His casual attitude about breaking down life into a string of chapters seemed threatening and frivolous. Before setting foot in New York, her life had only two chapters, the first as a bookish, rebellious young girl living under communism, a life of idealist poverty simmering under tight confines, and the second, after the fall of communism, as a glamorous young actress. Still, she hated to leave behind things and people that she cared for. In her town no one in her small circle ever left behind things or people they cared for. Most of the people she had known kept their high school and college friends until old age, moved in the same circles and did the same things every day until they died. Everybody hid a small drama, carrying it to the grave, unwilling to rock the boat, but happy to complain. People have to bear their own cross, don't they? When she arrived in Manhattan she was a virgin in life. She knew almost nothing about life or relationships, although she had noticed that most men and women at home would have affairs, sometimes torture or even beat each other, but that they would almost never divorce. For that reason alone she never wanted to marry. Marriage was an arrangement where men had all the freedoms and benefits while women would just agree to their man's whims, slaving away cooking, cleaning and raising kids. A cage. She could not understand the intimacy of such a bond. Sometimes, she wished she could. Days after her brother married she noticed with surprise how he and his wife looked at each other with closeness she never thought possible. She had a flash that she was missing something important and felt sad. It was the first time she gave marriage the benefit of a doubt. For 50 years the communists punished people who were reckless enough to break up a family and taint the profile of the "new man." Divorced people were outcasts in the communist world. When people married it was like taking a one way train ticket to Siberia. Kitty resolved to tell Bill that she couldn't see him again, because as a young lady it was not proper to date a man who was going through a divorce. Bill tempted her with a trip to his lavish beach front property in the Hamptons. When she primly refused, he quickly disappeared. She was disappointed, but had learned her second lesson. In America you are supposed to say yes from the first time, if you don't want a man to leave. What a funny place! Later on when her own life surprised her with more chapters than she had ever wished for, she recalled his comments. While in Bucharest, she had grown increasingly restless living other people lives as an actress. It was second hand living. Kitty wanted to experience her own life's stories in a bigger world, aiming intuitively towards something mysterious and incomprehensible. That was long ago. Many things had happened since her fated April's Fool Day Manhattan arrival. First she had to kill the European in her, many memories and all her important bonds. She gradually turned into a true New Yorker, sometimes proud to be an American, sometimes ashamed, although the rebel in her never quite died and every now and then made her life different and difficult. But now it was January 7th, 2005. Time to move on. It was hard, because she had gotten comfortable living on the island, viewing the world from the top of the skyscraper. She has been packing boxes for two weeks, trying to gather enough strength to ship them. The phone rang. It was Sam Stuart, a playwright who never sold, and a friend she loved to hate. Happy New Year Kitty. Happy New Year, Sam! she said without any enthusiasm. For the last week he had been calling her every day and it was the first time she was taking his call. "Hey, wanna talk at all?" he asked tentatively. Kitty said nothing. "Still depressed?" he asked with genuine concern. The New Years eve she had tried to organize a fun night with a group of friends but he had so many fits and in the end just left, that she came home depressed and for a moment, before she went to sleep nearly cried. Kitty invited Ben Cantor, a tall and easy going doctor in his late forties, Sam, who was a finance guy turned playwright, and Christina, a six foot tall blond Romanian bartender. Christina was an unlikely illegal alien success story, making enough money as a bartender to afford an apartment on Madison Avenue and 72nd street and to dress only in Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana and Dior. She had to get married in order to avoid deportation, get her papers and start a legal life, but she had enough dignity to wait and marry for the right reasons. A girl of humble beginnings, Christina wanted very much to marry up and become a lady, and she truly looked the part. She was a splendid animal, always dressed to kill, but she lacked grace, her speech was too blunt, and her conversation was lively but dull. Restaurant owners and other non-intellectual types were drooling over her, but she didn't want these men, because they were too much like what she had grown up with and what she had always wanted to escape from. She wasn't into writers or any of the artistic types either, she just wanted to date lawyers and doctors because of their right mix of social status and cash. But these men somehow were not taking her seriously. Some preferred to marry some prudish successful professional wife and just have affairs with girls like her, while others would just not vibe to her type because they wanted more of a quirky mind. For the last year Kitty had been introducing Christina to all the men she knew, and they were quite a few. Still, no click. Her last love, Enio, a fifty something Italian attorney who was half her height, despite this striking physical disadvantage cheated on her and smashed her heart. Christina needed a year to recover and was now playing tough but in reality she still had a hard time to open up and date again. She genuinely liked older men, to Kitty's dismay who never quite understood how a 30 year-old woman could be completely attracted to a 50 year-old-man, especially in bed, regardless of how well he looked or how much money he had. But she accepted Christina's peculiar taste without judging her, and was trying to help her out. Ben was a distinguished man in his late forties, tall, handsome who liked to date European women, so he seemed to be the perfect candidate. Kitty hoped that the big age difference was going to make up for Christina's lack of intellectual sophistication, and that a smart man will appreciate a nice simple woman with a gorgeous body and a great heart. But it didn't work out according to plans. Kitty had invited Sam to make sure she was going to have good conversation for the night, in the event Ben and Christina clicked. She enjoyed wit and good banter and he could take it even if it was brutal, and Mr. Playwright, if he was good at anything, he was good at that. They loved to argue and rip each other apart. Kitty wanted to give up acting and become a playwright herself, so she liked to pick his brain and see what he thought about her plays. He hated them. They were not well written, he said, they did not obey to the formula A wants B and in the end gets it or not. Kitty was trying to write in a less rigid style, more fresh than the Hollywood standard, a bit Chechov, Beckett, Ibsen and multimedia combined. "Have you ever read Heiner Muller?" she asked Sam. No," said Sam. "Who's this chap?" Germans think hes the best playwright since Bertold Brecht. But according to your concepts, he's a man who cant write. A guy wholl never fill up a stadium and wholl never sell a script, not even to Miramax, she said remembering fleetingly the man who was in charge with Heiner Muller's legacy in Berlin, one of her past zillion dates while living in her past life in Bucharest. "I'll look him up," he said pretending to be intrigued. Sam's plays were realistic and perfectly crafted, but Kitty wasn't thrilled about them. They were like a flawless mechanism that missed poetry and intensity. They had no true life inside. They were bland. Bland is hip right now, he would say. I call it discreet realism. In the last ten years all the best plays have been discrete dramas, or havent you noticed? In his plays it was all from the brain and nothing from the heart, and Kitty wanted to be moved, appalled, shocked and seduced. But he was a skilled a writer though, and she wanted to learn the craft. The two girls turned heads when they arrived at Orsay, a French bistro on the Upper East side, and when the men arrived they noticed with delight the jealousy of the other singletons at the bar. Tall Christina looked like a supermodel and was sparkling in jeans and a revealing gold silk top, Kitty looked less striking sporting a short skirt and a tight magenta wool jacket but she had a very feminine figure and a beautiful blondish hair waving down to her waist. The group was having fun and everything was going well until Christina said she wanted to dance. She suggested they all go to a Greek nightclub in Queens more fun, according to her, than any of the stuffy Manhattan clubs. At that point Sam took Kitty aside and exploded in a litany of complaints. He was upset he was not in a one on one conversation with Kitty in a Chelsea dive bar, he was upset that he had to come all the way to the boring Upper East Side, and was furious as hell at the thought of moving his bum to Queens so Christina can dance. He hated Queens and he hated to dance, he disliked Christina because she talked too loud, and although Ben was nice, he wished he wasn't around. Kitty was too at fault for not being the dive bar type, and for caving in too much to her friends. As Christina and Ben said they would go, Kitty was tempted to check this club out. Sensing Kitty was on the fence, Ben, perfect gentleman offered to pay for the cab ride. This was a go for Kitty but not for Sam, for whom a trip to Queens was like a trip to Mars pushing the rocket with bare hands and sniffing the gas. He adamantly refused, and threatened to leave, so the group compromised and went to Aubar, a European dance club midtown. As soon as he arrived at Aubar, Sam started to complain the place was too expensive, and the people too cheap, the music world and not rock, in short he was unable to let go and have fun. Annoyed by his airs and disappointed that Ben did not offer to pay her drinks, Christina got tipsy and started to act out loud. "Any men in this place should be thrilled to buy me a drink, because I am great," she said defiantly, although, of course, no one defied her. "I used to be modest, until six months ago, but not anymore. I've changed. Why should I be modest if I am great?" She yelled out loud. Sam, at this point, could barely stand anyone, snapped back: "You should be modest because you are great, " said he pretending to be polite. The night was not turning out to be much fun, and Kitty was feeling like a principal in charge of a group of spoiled brats. The only adult there was Ben. He enjoyed the night, danced, kept his spirits up and had fun. Ben was taking turns in inviting Christina and Kitty to dance, and when Christina was left with Sam it was a little bit like passing hell. Christina was a go getter though, and soon found a solution to escape the misery of being stuck with Sam, in the person of a middle aged sturdy Brooklyn man, who bought her drinks, told her she looked great, and promptly took her away. When Kitty and Ben came back from the dancing floor, Sam was all alone and said he wanted to go home. "Don't be silly, stay!" asked Kitty, wanting to be nice and keep the group together. "If I stay will you buy me a drink?" He asked her with the tone that if you really like me, show me. "No bribes", Kitty laughed, "Besides, I only have 5 dollars in my pocket. Let's dance." Sam followed her grudgingly on to the dance floor, and started dancing moving like a CIA agent in disguise. Kitty was looking at him wondering what she could do to distract this big boy from his negative stream of thoughts, and her face lit up in a flash of mischief. She went to him and gave him a short passionate kiss. She did it like a nanny who is throwing candy to distract a crying kid, and it worked. Her kiss took Sam aback. The very next second, he forgot all their arguments, he forgave her for never buying him drinks, she forgave her for her Upper East Side address, he forgave her high maintenance airs, and he totally forgot how much they mutually disliked each other's plays. The miracle worked and he loosened up. Soon enough, his discontent came back. He told to himself, if this chick kissed me, she likes me, she must have liked me all along and I didn't know, so it's my time to step my foot down, and show her I am the man. "Look," he said, demandingly, like she was his woman now, "You either leave your friends and come with me have a drink somewhere else, or I go!" Kitty said nothing and just laughed. He turned around and went home. Soon after, the group parted ways. Christina disappeared somewhere with her new Brooklyn friend, happy to have the chance to save the night. Ben lost his cell phone and was upset because he was on call from the hospital for the night. He still offered to give Kitty a ride home and was the only one who thanked her for a pleasant night. Ben had first met Kitty years ago when he was dating one of her girlfriends. This exotic Romanian woman increasingly intrigued Ben, who would encounter Kitty and her last boyfriend Ashton socially. Kitty was beautiful, sensual, sometimes eccentric, and other times sweet and childlike. Her eyes always sparkled with warmth and mischief. Although she talked and behaved quite freely, somehow he found her enigmatic. She was more open about her thoughts than most of the women he knew, but there was something fluid about this openness. One moment you could say you got her, you understood what she was all about, and put a label on it, and the next day she would surprise you with a new angle and show you that there was something more inside, something that just couldnt be contained. She could easily give the feeling that she was all there with you, one hundred percent in the present, and in a flash later youd notice her mind was actually elsewhere, leaving you wondering if it had been there all along. Although she was well read and definitely street smart, she was stubbornly swimming thru life like a child. Children not always say what is right, or do what is appropriate, and they dont protect their feelings too much. If, for some weird reason, they like you, they totally open up if not, they just clam up. At the time, Kitty and Ashton were the perfect couple, so perfect that at first, people were annoyed by their love and devotion to each other, but then they would grow to love them and root for them. It was the couple that gave all the jaded singles in their group faith that love, friendship, loyalty, and an exciting intellectual connection with a person of the opposite sex was still possible in the midst of the dysfunctional New York dating scene. Leo Weber, a very attractive film director in his fifties who had never been married nor wanted to be, at first made fun of the couple and called them "the joint at the hip ones" but later, he found himself craving something like this, and looking forward to meeting them and spending time with them at all the parties. Ashton was a nice man, emotionally balanced who had an amazing knowledge of pretty much everything, so talking to him on any subject was sheer delight. At the time he had no job and was pretty much broke but never cheap, always a gentleman, and his integrity and grace seemed from a lost world. On this practical world though, he couldn't quite make his way. He was hardly a hunter and a go-getter. Leo had plenty of money, as a successful film director and every now and then he would try to flirt and seduce Kitty, just to test her, and was pleasantly surprised to see that she was a loyal one. When two years later Ashton and Kitty broke up without any explanation, everybody was sad and in shock. Everybody that is, except Ben. Ben was glad, and not at all surprised. He always had the intuition that Kitty needed a more unusual man, someone who could go places not only in his mind but also in his real life, someone stronger than Ashton. When Kitty picked up the phone, and heard Sam's voice, she knew he wanted to have an explanatory talk, but she was not in the mood to open up. The best defense was a good offence. "Why were you depressed? She asked. "Because it was not fun the other night and I am getting tired of these dates that aren't good, I'm getting tired of not finding someone to have a real relationship with," he said. Kitty kept silent, but she knew very well what he was talking about. "I don't like feeling like I am being used. I felt used that night," he charged. Used? Why?" asked Kitty knowing that this was a code usually used by insecure and clammed up people to make everyone else feel bad. "You used me in several ways, he complained. As an offset to Roger who you didn't want to go out with, and offset to Ben and Christina, as someone to pay for your night, as someone to save you from making conversation with your dull friend. As someone to teach you about writing plays. Why cant you just be interested in me? Oh, and no self-respecting American girl goes out with NO money out. She doesn't expect to pay and that's ok, but at least she's prepared to chip in a little. " "Nobody asked you for anything, Sam," she said calmly struggling to swallow her chuckles. A man who expected money from a woman was pathetic. "If I didn't pay, Ben would have, and it would have been an embarrassment because you were my date," he blurted out. "Sam, I wasnt your date. We were all hanging out as friends," she replied. "You went out with 5 dollars," he went on. "You lied to me completely about your plans. You lied about whether other people were showing, you had another man there ...you used me, lied to me, had no respect for me and treated me inconsiderately. You want love, sweetheart. Be worthy of it. " "If you feel this way, then why do you keep calling me every day?" she asked matter-of- factly. "Because Im hoping you feel bad about what you did. Hilarious reasoning, she thought. If at least you feel bad, than maybe there is hope for you as a person I can get know better. This was so absurd! I came up with good intentions. To meet you after so much time, to get to know you better, and hopefully to try to like you. I tried to be considerate and thoughtful and sweet. But I imagine you are just looking for a guy you can use....like your cheap, trashy friend is," he blurted out. This was a low blow. It was sickening to hear Sam trash her friend. "Your mind is just a pile of stereotypes. Like your obsession on never setting foot in Queens. Christina is a good girl," said Kitty. "Define a good girl! said Sam skeptically. "She makes an honest living. She doesn't make Boyfriend miserable, and she's not doing too much cheating." "How much cheating is enough? He hissed. "That depends on how much happiness you can handle." He liked her answer, but was still fired up. "She has no class," he charged. "You have no class," said Kitty. "You are walking around whining, complaining and making everyone else feel bad. You have no money, I don't care about that, but youre a walking martyr. You're always pouting! Because I don't meet you half way. Because I don't buy you drinks. I can't baby sit you. I like men who are strong, open and fun. Gotta go and finish up packing. Good bye. She hung up the phone and went back to filling her boxes. A few minutes later her door rang. She went on to open and was stunned to see Sam. He was holding a bottle of red wine and was looking beat. Reluctantly, she let him in. "How on earth did you manage to get here? Where did you call me from?" "From downstairs," he said. "What about the doormen"? "They were obviously sleeping on the job", he said sarcastically. "Look, I am sorry I hang up on you." "Why did you kiss me?" he asked impatiently. "Can you please forget that?" she pleaded. "No, no, why did you kiss me?" he insisted. "Just to distract you from your whining, and make you shut up." Sam looked beat, Kitty tried to be nice. "Sam, I am not thinking about that right now", she said with an unexpected burst. "I have other things on my mind. I don't want to date." She stopped, standing by the door with her shoulders very straight and waiting for him to go. "You've already dated half the successful single guys in Manhattan. Why not date the other half?" "What for? It's always the same. I look at them, like them, but I know I don't want to stick around. I can't explain," she said. Most times Kitty was out on a date, she felt like an actress on stage that is giving a great performance in a second hand theater. She would gaze in the eyes of her rapt audience, the man, but she could rarely silence the little voice inside her that was soon whispering "Oh, my God." She was brought up to be charming and to seduce, and often felt like a Geisha, an entertainer of men was had to be nice, sweet and witty. Ever since she and Ashton broke up, which was already long ago, most times when she was on a date, or in bed with a man, she fantasized of just leaving thru a back door, with no good bye and no silly excuse. And sometimes thats what she did. "I am over dating," she said, "I prefer to have conversations with people I meet by accident. Its more real. I don't know about your dates, she said, but mine, are like interviews for a corporate job." "I know what you mean," Sam said, "I feel the same." That was one thing they had in common, they both put the people they knew in two piles, interesting with unusual thoughts, and the nice people without. Sam sensed he was game here. "I told my stories so many times," he went on. "Mine had become a polished stand up act," she grinned. " I know where I am going to get the laughs, or the "I am intrigued" smiles. That's why I prefer to not go out anymore." What are you talking about, you are always out? Snapped Sam. "Always out, yes, out of love and out of luck," she said. This was torture for Sam. The last week since the unexpected kiss in the nightclub he had decided he wanted to give her all his love. He was bursting with love at all seams and just wanted to share everything with someone special. He was ready. More than ready, he was tired of dating and casual sex, and wanted to have a serious relationship with a woman who could afford to pay half of everything and be his partner in everyway. He wanted to get married, settle down, and none of the women he had met in the last couple of years wanted that. On top of everything Kitty was squealing to him she needed love, but not his. Like his love somehow stank. "Are you afraid to open up and be hurt?" he asked determined to find out what was all about. "Sam, would you please stop psycho-analyzing me?" she said losing her patience. "It's not about that." "What else is bothering you? He asked taking a look ah her answering machine. "37 messages?" Why do you never answer the phone? Why don't you get a cell phone like everybody else? " "I am just feeling antisocial right now, OK? Would you please go? I have to pack." "Where are you going?" he asked. "Home," she said. "Where home"? He asked. "That's the question, Sam. I don't really know. " "Where's your heart?" "I have no clue. And I have no heart, Sam, you of all people should know that," she said jokingly. "Don't give me this crap. Where are you going? " "Bucharest, my parents are there. I know its pathetic. I wish I found a greater love, a stronger purpose. But I havent. And whats wrong being with the people you love? "They are the past. You can't go back to the past. " She gave him a blank look. "Says, who, Sam Stuart? Why not?" she said blithely. I want to have a home, a port of call, a refuge, a safe place, a harbor for everything. Ha! She hated so be vulnerable, in front of Sam, of all people. The only bad part about going back, home, is that I have to take me with me, she jaundiced. So you want to get settled? he asked plainly. Sam made everything so cut and dry. Why did he always missed the subtleties? Thats the whole point. I dont. Youre nuts. All New York women are nuts. Settled is failure. Its just a step up from surviving. It means choosing a shitty solution as a remedy to not just killing yourself and put a clean end to all the nonsense. Settled is doing like millions of other people, get a job that you can barely stand, a spouse that you can barely stand, and call it you have your life together. But who the hell do you think you are? The whole game is about survival. Especially here. She said nothing. People who found their purpose never settled. They were trailblazers. They were acting out their dreams. In the whole time she had spent in Manhattan shed seen plenty of successful men and women who dated the best the city had to offer, unable to have a relationship, set up in their own ways, and wonderfully selfish. Turning down people for minor flows, or at the first sign of disagreement. Always with the eyes set on the next corner, the next party, the next dating website, the next bar, the next place stocked with interesting people galore. The three months daters, the workaholics, the A types, the alpha males, the Queen Bees, la crème de la crème. Then, years later, in their mid to late forties, she would ran into these formerly picky people walking a stroller on Madison Avenue with a wife who looked like an aged nurse, or with some dull husband, who was nice, sweet and a lot of fun although from the outside it was impossible to tell. She would never stop wondering how these people ended up marrying someone less vibrant than everyone they ever dated? The climax of the quest is supposed to be the Holy Grail. Not the Shitty Grail, dont you think? People were supposed to marry the love of their life, ha? Thats just a fairy tale. At least the best person that crossed their path, at the height of the passion, not the safest person at the height of the desperation, dont you think? Same with jobs. Most of the people I know, work like robots at the job they hate. So, you want to have family, without having to actually have a family. And you want to have a job, without actually having a job. Because you dont want to settle, said Sam ironically. And this rattles you. What rattles me is that time is racing ahead, and I have nothing to show for. I live in a studio the size of your bathroom. I have two master degrees, I am 43 . I have to go to a coffee shop to have enough room to write. Theres something fucked up, dont you think? We come here as a humans, youre churned out robots. From the outside, you look OK to me. I have the outside, yeah, but I dont have the inside. So I have to go outside, to get a new inside. Get it? They stopped for a second then broke into a laugh. That was so Kitty. Always spinning. Her discontent was entertaining. What the hell do you want? he asked suddenly relaxed. Just the usual nonsense. Stability. And to be free. To be free to love. And free to betray. And I would like to have a child someday. But apparently there is no man on this planet who inspires me to do it See the pattern? Youre just like everybody else, he spat out. You want to have your cake and eat it to. Im walking in circles. People come to New York and then graduate New York. Time to go. You gotta do it here. You gotta find it here, what ever is that you want", he said trying to sound positive and nice. That's the whole point, Sam. I can't. Im stuck. I'm in a rut, she blurted out. That's all?" he snapped back. "We all are." "Today I left my job." "You left your cool job?" he asked in shock. "It wasn't that cool. It sucked." She corrected him. It was just another sandbag. "Well, at least you have Roger. He can help you out", he said sarcastically. He wished he had someone who could help him out. "I left Roger too," she said flatly. "You left Roger?" Sam couldn't believe that. "I've told you, I am wrapping up." Sam couldnt believe she left Roger. Roger was a 36 year-old venture capitalist, who was rubbing shoulders with all the star politicians and all the Wall Street big wigs, had a few thousand Google entries, and was an active Democrat donor and fundraiser. He was a genius kid who left the field of artificial intelligence and moved into finance and was now starting and selling companies in all sorts of cutting edge fields. "You left Roger after you quit your job? Are you nuts? Who is going to help you out with limo service from now on?" he asked sarcastically. "Definitely not me," he laughed. "Who is going to invite you to the next John Kerry event tomorrow?" Or to the next party with Kevin Kline? And who is going to invite me? " He joked. "Did you think of me when you considered the break up? " "I've tried to love him, I can't. I like him a lot, but he's not what I need. Kitty had met Roger Sayada at a fundraiser where she had been invited because, once again, she did something inappropriate. It was late August, and she was discouraged because she had neither auditions, nor freelance writing work in sight. It was slow. She wanted new and exciting things in her life, projects to be passionate about, and nothing was coming through. She had decided to take a long walk down from her Upper East Side apartment to Fifth Avenue and back. Once again, Kitty was the odd girl out wearing shorts, t-shirt, no make up and had her hair up in a ponytail like a school girl, among all the elegant people coming out from work in their expensive designer suits. It was yet another reminder that everybody had their life together but her, and that she was typically on a different wavelength. As she was walking past Bergdorf Goodman, she was paying attention to the rhythm and sounds of things around her, an old acting drill she had learned in drama school, which she was practicing to keep herself tuned. She noticed a tall gray haired man walking next to her whose steps happened to be in perfect sync with hers. He was dressed in an expensive Italian suit and looked like a combination of movie mogul and salesman. He was talking loud in his cell phone and she heard him trying to convince someone to come to a screening of a documentary about John Kerry the next day. That was a striking coincidence. The day before she had been shuffling through some potential stories ideas, and had run into a note that John Butler, the director who made Arnold Schwarzenegger famous with the documentary Pumping Iron, was about to release a documentary on John Kerry. She would have loved to see it! With no second thoughts, she followed the movie mogul for about a block and a half waiting patiently to get off the phone. Then, she approached him, like it was the most normal thing in the world: Hi!" she said, "I happened to hear you talk about the John Kerry screening, I am a freelance writer for the Perfect Murder magazine, and for the TV Shows, Murder at 5 a clock, and Crime and Charisma. Sometimes we review interesting documentaries, she lied. I'd love to come to your screening. Maybe write a story about the film." Victor Robertson was a very busy man, the workaholic type who never stopped. But to his surprise he stopped. From the height of his 6.4 frame and from the dignity of his perfectly stiff suit he looked down at what looked like a schoolgirl in her way to the gym and listened to her unusual request: "This is how magazine writers are dressing these days?" he asked skeptically. Without any makeup she looked very young, like an intern at most. "I worked very late last night, had a deadline, and now I happen to have a day off", lied Kitty with wideopen eyes. "I must admit I admire your guts to stop me like this, so I am going to grant your wish. But keep in mind, this screening is not for the press, so please come as a friend. Call my secretary and ask her to put your name on the list. See you tomorrow at Soho House at six. He handed her a card, and as he walked away, he turned around and added: Oh, and by the way, if you ever need a job, give me call. I like people with guts, like you. You are so aggressive! My God! " and he laughed. Victor was very aggressive too, so it was a quality that he liked. The next day, Kitty carefully planed to look both gorgeous and professional to upgrade her image the day before. She chose an all black outfit that contrasted her long blond hair and it was simple and subtly sexy. No matter how hard she tried, she could never go hundred percent preppy. She passed the tight security at the entrance of the Soho House with a sense of pride and excitement. Soho House was the same place where Samantha, the wild PR agency owner in Sex and the City tried to get in on her own and failed, having to steal a membership and ultimately got caught. Kitty was thrilled that she had managed to go there on her own, without stealing an invitation, and without the help of some man who would invite her there to impress her and sleep with her. It was all on her own. She was thrilled that she, a little Romanian wanderer, succeeded where glamorous Samantha, from SEX and The CITY had failed. Her real life was turning out better than fiction, better than an American movie even, and that was what she had dreamed of years ago in Bucharest before she decided to take the plunge and fly to New York. At the screening there were just a handful of people who had been invited to invest in the distribution budget. She knew nobody, except for Victor Robertson, President of Pan Palisade Pictures, the man she had stopped on Fifth Avenue. Robertson checked her out briefly, pleasantly surprised to see her transformation from little girl to a stylish lady, but he was too busy to exchange more than a few words with her. He was there to get money from the investors for the John Kerry film that he was planning to distribute before the elections in the fall. Feeling a bit like a fish out of water among all those gray haired investors, Kitty was looking around wishing someone normal would talk to her. All of a sudden she was feeling shy and a bit overwhelmed. She went to the bar to get a drink and a young Jewish man accompanied by a pretty girl started talking to her. He friendly asked her how she got invited to the event. Kitty told him the story of how she stalked Victor and he had a good laugh. She laughed back feeling safe because he had a girlfriend. Kitty knew that she had the bad habit of being overly friendly with strangers, and sometimes it backfired and some men took it personally. She would usually act more aloof if a man was alone, just to make sure she avoided any misunderstandings. That moment though she was happy someone there was talking to her at all. They exchanged cards and the following weeks he had sent her small text messages from China where he was attending a conference. There was nothing personal or too friendly, just a keep in touch kind of thing. About a month later Kitty got a call from him. He said he was back from his travels, and asked her if she wanted to come to a party. He sounded casual, like a friend, not a potential date, and she agreed. To her surprise he came to pick her up alone, in a long black limousine. He had told her he liked her from the first moment he had seen her, that he liked her even more after they talked, and that the pretty girl at the screening was his daytime assistant. Off hours, he had a second personal assistant, Steve, "stolen" from P. Diddy, as he enjoyed mentioning it to everybody. This was how she met Roger Sayada, a young man with a personality bigger than life, and with a life even bigger than his personality. Sam was quite surprised Kitty just passed a man like this, just because, she "couldn't love him. "If I stay with him I won't find what I want, " explained Kitty. "What did you tell him?" he asked incredulously. "I told him, I can't love him. Simple as that." Sam never had the guts to break up with a woman as clean and honest as that. He was trying to make the girl miserable first, for at least a month, while pretending to be nice, and not a jerk, but preparing the ground for her to hate his guts, so he would not take the blame for the breakup. What happened? Did he suck in bed? Sam asked dying to know, but Kitty said nothing. Are you crazy? he continued You should have married that guy. He wanted to marry you." "Fuck marriage, Sam. Marriage is the shell." Kitty and Roger went out for a few months but their relationship never took off. Every time shed see Roger it was like she was meeting him for the first time. It was an emotional distance she couldnt overcome. For some obscure reasons some people penetrate our hearts immediately, and others stay out. One time they went to Miami together, and they returned the next day on separate planes. She admired him more than any other men she had met because he was a genius and an entrepreneur, a leader, and he even knew how to play her favorite piano piece, the Moonlight Sonata. She was feeling a certain warmth every time she would see him, but soon after they would get together, she would lose patience with him being so busy, wired up and self centered. When they would travel in a chauffer car, he would always speak incessantly on his phone, and instead of her resenting it, she was happy to be alone in the opposite corner. Right off the bat, Roger told her that he was a point in his life when he had accomplished his financial goals, and wanted to get married and have a baby. Most of the women he had previously dated were bookish Ph.D.s, and he wanted a sexier Ph.D., someone he could feel passionate about. Kitty fit the bill. He was thrilled to notice that she was an asset to him at his political parties, that he charmed all his business friends, and that she made herself noticed at Q and As by asking questions that none dared to ask. He often told her that she had a subversive mind and that he liked that. She was the only intelligent person that he knew that didnt care to move up in the corporate world and who wasnt impressed or scared by the things most people were. He was openly fascinated by that. Also, he was secretly moved by her difficult life and her struggle to be real and seek her own truth in a country where she was just adopted, and where seeking anything else but money was a luxury even for born Americans. Roger would often encourage her to keep going, and reminded her that progress was created in the minds of people who didnt follow the crowd. He was a great guy. The one man she should have loved, if only she could have. Sam hated Kitty for letting everything Roger had to offer just go. He hated all the pretty girls who were casually having access to a world that was firmly closed to a regular guy like him. All the pretty girls he knew were going to all the cool parties in town and were rubbing shoulders with people he would never have access to, unless he sold some genial script and became a major writer. Straight as he was, he was at the point where he would have slept with Roger in a heart beat, for all the money he could have raised to produce his plays and scripts, and for all the doors he could have opened for him. "Maybe you should marry him, Sam. Why are you getting so fired-up?" "So, what is this that you want, honey? "An Affair to Remember?" "Casablanca, Sam" she said half jokingly, instantly feeling stupid for sounding cheesy. "Casablanca is boring," he said looking for a way out of further sappy Casablanca talk. "You must be broke, right?" "Not quite. Remember, I still have the five dollars in my pocket, thanks to you, she snapped back. "What's your secret, lazy ass?" Working 20 hours a day doing all these grand activities and soul lifters." "Honey, wise up. Work in a restaurant. Do something. I have no money to lend you", if this is what you want," he said cautiously. "I haven't asked," said Kitty. "Im fine." "Fine, my ass!" he said upset. "Im really wrapping up," she said calmly. "I am tired. I tried to make it as a big actress here, it didn't happen. Tired of my daytime job where I have to play stupid, to fit in. We all are. I've sent send thousands of headshots, and I went to a billion of auditions, and tried, and tried again, and then one more time, and there was never the right time or the right person or the right part. I've lost interest in trying, and in acting, as a matter of fact. Im supposed to write a budget to raise some money for a film, so I can star in it, and I can't do it. If meet a big Hollywood producer who will offer me a lead, I'll pass. I know, Ill miss New York dearly, wherever I'll go, but I am just tired of it. Its just the same crap, day in an day out. "Honey, but this is New York crap. Beware of the Bucharest crap. What are you going to do there?" He asked suddenly worried. "Don't know." "That sounds like a plan." "My level of interest in every thing has gotten so low, I can't even watch TV. There, wherever I go, for good or for worse, I feel home. "Do something, don't just sit on your ass," snapped Sam to hide the fact that he was actually moved. "All people have problems. Im just the only one unable to sort them out. " Sam was delighted to have broken down her mystery after two years of being her friend and knowing nothing about her. She would see her at parties, always happy and fashionable and she was always greeting him with some sassy remarks, and that was it. "Why don't you go home for a couple of weeks?" he tried. "What for? I still have to come back here and face it. In Bucharest, most likely I'll marry a chubby man who makes two hundred dollars a month, thinks he is a hot shot, and with whom I won't be able to discuss the last op-ed in the New York Times. And of course, he will cheat on me as soon as he'll have a chance. I don't care. " Kitty stopped, embarrassed. Come with me, said Sam. "Let's get out, let's have a walk in the snow. Come to my place. We can watch the Golden Globes together. I'll pay for your cab back home." Kitty was silent. "Let me hold you. I want you in my arms to hold," he said warmly. Kitty looked at him dead in the eye and said matter of fact: "If I am going to sleep with you - which is likely - I will feel disgusted with myself the next day. And this will not solve my problems. Thanks though. " "I don't want sex", said Sam." I just want to hold you." Of course he wanted sex. "I can give you sex, but I can't hold you, " said Kitty, who of course, had no intention of giving him sex. "I just can't." I don't want sex, " said Sam. "I want to hold you. Come to me. I'll pay for the cab." Right now I see every man is a trap. Im better off, without." "Come!," said Sam again. "Don't be so dark." "Don't you understand? You can't make me happy. I am sorry, but I feel depressed around you. I want to feel a connection. Something good. I want to feel right and things to be right, without having to tell or hear any bullshit. When two people fit, it just flows. " She felt bad to tell him all this, because she knew everyone deserved to be loved. "I know you too need a lot of love," she said as tender as she could, "and I wish you get it someday, somehow..." "Thank you for that," he said bleeding inside, although weirdly turned on. "I've been on best behavior with you, considering I had been lied to." "We all suffer from the unbearable lightness of being, " said Kitty attempting a vague excuse. "To hell with the Czech writers" he replied all fired up. C 'mon, don't be chicken and go. This is life everywhere, my dear." "I don't want to be alone and far from all family until they are going to fucking die, and pretend I am happy about it. I used to think that stuff like power and money were important, but do you have any idea how much ego is in it? I want to go back home and work in a small theater, just for the pleasure of it. " "Right. For a couple of hundred dollars a month! You are giving me all this baloney because you don't want to sleep with me. And you don't want to fuck me because I have no money, right?" "Sam, the last man I loved was unemployed." "No way." He never knew about Ashton. "He was great. The idiot savant type. Ph.D. Big on integrity." "So, what happened?" Kitty stood silent. She didn't want to talk about that. "What about your ex? You never told me what happened?", she asked instead. "She had a drinking problem. Wed been together for 3 years. That's why you left her?" she asked. "No," said Sam. "Actually she left me. She got tired of me telling her to straighten up her act. What about your boyfriend? He got tired of you asking him to get a job?" he looked her dead in the eye trying to get a reaction, but her face stood blank. Her walls up turned him on. He wanted to conquer her. He was fantasying to have this chick on her knees, sucking him up and looking at him with eyes filled of love and delight. He could already taste and feel how hot she was going to be. "Come to my arms," he wooed her with the most seductive voice he could muster, and trying to embrace her. Kitty gazed at him for a second. He was a good-looking guy, with short army style hair, athletic and muscular. He was dressed well, with a black wool turtleneck well fit on his strong chest. He was a good guy; still, there was nothing inside him that spoke to her. He was like an empty deserted house, with wide open doors, and broken windows, full of dust and rust, on the market for too many years, ready to collapse at the first gust of wind, or the first blow. "Sam, people do things if they anticipate pleasure, and I don't anticipate any pleasure with you," knowing that she was being cruel, and that this sentence alone, will make her karma swell. Im sorry. "You'll feel pleasure when I touch you and kiss you ... everywhere" ...said Sam. "Men are delusional because women are too polite," she said primly. Kitty was thinking that it was time to call the doormen, or someone to rescue her. It was getting out of hand. "Probably takes a lot to make you cum," he went on further. "You don't get me, Sam. I can have 4 orgasms and it doesn't matter, if it's not with the right man. After, I just feel depressed. It's not worth it." "Yes but I'll feel better and you will have caused it. This is good..." said Sam getting all horny, just imagining it. "Do I look like Mother Teresa? How low do you want to go? I can't listen to this, anymore, please go!" He made another attempt to kiss her. "But I am in the mood for sex now," he said. "Just go," she said coldly. "I want sex," he pleaded all horny. "Please go, Sam. Go!" Outside it was already dark, and inside was even darker. Sam was suffocating her, the boxes were suffocating her, there was no air, she was like under a wave, pressure was low, and for a flash her life reached a point of eclipse. The dark was at it climax.
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