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One Last Gift (Chapter Three)

“Hey. . . Hey!. . . Chase!!”, she said to the distracted man, “It’s your turn to order!”. I couldn’t help but wander off; thinking of how life has gone for me so far. Here I am sitting with my coworkers, great group of people, sharing food and drinks. They have no idea what has gone on in my life, and I plan to keep it that way. “Yes! Sorry, I got caught up in the game over there. Okay let’s see, I will have the Philly cheesesteak!”, Chase told the waiter. “Ah man, I was going to get that too. Now I feel I have to order something else!”, Darren laughed throughout.

Four other coworkers came out for tonight’s festivities. Darren, in his mid-30’s from Australia, is the jokester at the office. I always appreciate his attempts to brighten anyone’s day; he certainly has for me. Melanie, late 20’s and from a small town a few states over, is the one who planned this whole evening out; she’s the go-getter type. Marco, late 30’s and from Brazil, is more of the reserved type but so insightful. I’m new here, but it’s like I’ve known him for longer; I love his wisdom on things. And Talia, early 30’s from Greece, moved here about 15 years ago. She loves group outings, and is so social and talkative! They’ve all been spending time together for several months, and it feels special that they wanted to include me in on moments like these.

“So how are liking it here at SEEK?”, Talia curiously wondered. SEEK is a new mobile application startup company that started about a year ago. It deals with traveling, but it puts a whole new spin on it for those who are unable to. Traveling is something I love, but haven’t had much time in the past. I always try to find jobs that pertain to my goals and values, because how long can one last working at a place that makes you sacrifice who you are at heart? “I love it! It feels great being back home for one thing, but you guys really welcomed me in quickly. Thanks.”, he said happily. Darren quipped, “We just didn’t want you to end up like the last guy that’s why we’re only talking to you.” I knew he was joking, but the last guy apparently wasn’t much of a social type of person and never partook in company events. Thank goodness I’m not like that.

“Ah finally the food is here! A toast! To coming home, fresh starts, and good company.”, Marco eloquently put it. Melanie smiled while rolling her eyes, “Now you’re making some of us miss our homes Marc!” “Do any of you plan on visiting back home someday soon?”, Chase proposed. Melanie and Darren both instantly replied that by the end of the year they will go back to their respective homes. Talia countered stating her family was flying in from Greece to visit for a month or so. Marco, meanwhile, pondered for a bit before saying probably not for a while; that this was his home now. “Home is where the heart is kid”, the Brazilian sage said to Chase, “There will always be certain things you miss about a place, but if you have something to live for here in the now then there is always time to go back elsewhere.” Marco loved Brazil, but his upbringing wasn’t the greatest from what I heard. But now he is here, with a wonderful partner and child; he has his good company here and in his heart. I think I knew what he meant, and I guess I relate.

As we all stuff our faces with this delicious food, seriously this cheesesteak is so damn good(!!), I think again about moving back home. Some of my old friends, I’m now reconnecting with; including some mutual friends Amy and I had. I have these new friends here at work, that I feel will work out well. And of course my small family, which don’t get me started with my mother; who’s happy to have me back in the city. Suddenly that feeling came back to me that I wasn’t alone. I looked around, but all I saw was the night sky full of stars and felt a gentle breeze pass by my face. The Blue Pearl, where we ate at, opened up a year ago and has an amazing outdoor area near the river. I’ve never been here before, and so far this has been a great first time here. A lot of people here tonight as well. So many couples. Sometimes I people-watch, wondering what life would be like if we were friends. We’d be awesome friends. But tonight, seeing all these couples, it made me think about my own dating life. If I struggled to commit to an amazing person like Amy, is it possible for me to ever get over that obstacle?

She will always be a dear friend to me, and I’m sure she’d be saying it’s okay Chase you got this. Hell, she probably would try and help me find another woman; that’s how supportive we can be to each other. I rarely start relationships based on friendship first; out of fear that if it didn’t work out we would drift apart. Though it came true in the end, that friendship we had kept us on good terms and when she was talking to some other guy briefly I wasn’t upset. We had that DiCaprio-Winslet sort of friendship where, no matter what, we always supported and loved one another; and wanted nothing but the best. That can be rare. And though romantically I let it slip away, I never ran away as a friend. Maybe I am ready to try again. If I am, I better do something soon too, because mom keeps asking about it and my family knows she wants a granddaughter to go with her two grandsons. Like always though, I will just let life bring me to the right people in my life. As soon as I thought that, this new waitress came to our table. Arms covered in various tattoos, nose pierced with a ring in her left nostril, and a determined look in her eyes. “Well look who’s back again! And you brought someone new this time. Easy on the eyes too. Hi I’m Sara!”, she said.

From afar watching the events unfolding, Amy recognized who this person was talking to Chase and his friends. And she couldn’t help but whisper to herself, “Oh no. . .”

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