This is the first in a series of guest posts written by some of my favorite bloggers. To understand what this is about, you can read this post: http://bit.ly/90Sss3
Sometimes Katarina would just observe her surroundings. When she felt that her mind wasn’t on her work, a few minutes of noting the sounds, smells, and the world outside her window, would usually reset her brain. So she listened. Outside her office door, by a cluster of cubicles was a gurgling water cooler. She guessed it was Gary, as he went out most evenings and was often a bit dehydrated at work. There was the maddeningly delicious aroma of popcorn coming from somewhere. Outside the window was the bustling city of Lyon, France.
Katarina was the daughter of a woman from Caracas and a man from Prague. She had lived in the U.S. as a child, gone to school for graphic design in Paris, and been there ever since. For the last 10 years she had done very well at her firm and earlier in the year, just as spring was filling everyone with optimism, she had been promoted and given the office overlooking Place Bellecour.
Life was really good, and had gotten even better the last month. But she couldn’t think about that now, she had work to do. Actually, she was almost done with a layout for a magazine, which is published in the United States. She was trying to decide which photo should be on the last page of the article, but her mind kept drifting.
The gurgling of the water cooler brought her back and she picked up the first photo. She liked the shape and the color. It was round and seemed to be looking towards the upper left. This would fit nicely with the layout.
Katarina loved flowers, but especially enjoyed getting them at work, in front of her co-workers. The ones on her desk were starting to fade. Her mind was adrift again, as she looked at the bouquet. She could hear Cindy’s voice in her head.
“You are way too happy”, said Cindy, with a half mocking smile.
“I am not!” But she was.
“You are a dreadful liar.”
Katrina giggled, which was completely out of character for her, but Cindy always made her laugh. “I suppose I am. Why do you think getting flowers at work, is so wonderful.”
“IYFB” was all Cindy said.
Cindy was a designer, of considerable skill, who cared little for convention, promotions, or office politics. She was only interested in her art. She didn’t generally play well with the other women in the office, mostly choosing to hang out with the men. Katarina was the one exception to this, and they had become fast friends since Cindy began three years earlier.
Katarina thought about “IYFB” for a bit. Cindy was a texting machine and loved creating her own textisims. None seemed to catch on with anyone but Katarina. “I give up, what does IYFB mean?”
“The reason we love getting flowers, not that I would know, is because it drives the cackling hens crazy with jealousy. In Your Face Bitch!”
Katarina chuckled again. A week later and that one was still making her laugh. Katarina turned her attention back to the photos. The next one was nice. Three blooms and purple was always a good color, in her opinion. Sadly, it didn’t have enough ‘Je ne sais quois’. She shrugged her shoulders and tossed it aside.
It was a casual and care free thing to do, tossing the photo like that. A month ago she would have neatly set it aside. Order and detail ruled Katarina’s world. “Where had it gone? Why didn’t I care?” she thought to herself.
After the third date, Antoine had said he would call her. He had, just before the flowers arrived. It was very strange to Katarina that they made it to a 3rd date. He wasn’t her type. A full three inches shorter, he was fit, and brilliant. Perhaps it was his mind that saved him on that first date. It had been a set up, by the wife of one of the partners, and Katarina had been less than enthusiastic about going. When she saw him, it seemed like the evening would be another disaster. While being polite and making small talk, Katarina had asked a simple enough question about books and if he liked to read.
The answer was so eloquent that it startled her. It was a spark, a blinding spark at that. When the restaurant was ready to close, they left holding hands and laughing, and before she knew it, they had made a second date. Their tastes in literature were so similar that she had been caught off guard. His sense of humor had closed the deal. Katarina remembered thinking that there was little harm in a second date, she would get a lovely meal out of the deal, and then she could give him the ‘Let’s be friends’ speech. He would be a good, albeit short friend.
A head poked in and asked if she was coming to the 3:30 meeting. She declined, using her deadline as an excuse. The third photo sat in front of her. The bright colors made her happy, the different shapes seemed to work well together, and there was a slash of purple in the background. It seems she had narrowed it down to two.
The second date had been for lunch, and afterwards they walked to an outdoor market. She had worn jeans and a tee shirt, pulled her hair into a pony tail and forgone her normal makeup routine. This would make the ‘friend’ talk easier. He had said that she looked great. It was a casual tone in his voice, which also had a sincerity to it, which made her believe him, even if she knew it wasn’t true. Katarina was remarkable at critical analysis of her work. She was less so at her own body image. Some parts were too big, others not big enough, but she would concede that she had great hair. It was her best feature.
If her last boyfriend had made a comment about her looking great, when she was dressed as she was, she would have bit his head off. Perhaps she just didn’t know Antoine well enough for such an attack. The market was delightful and when she grabbed his hand, he turned to her and smiled. There would be a third date.
The morning after the fourth date had been just three days earlier. She had asked Antoine, causally, as he was buttoning up his shirt, “Will you call me later today?”
He had thought about it and sort of shrugged shoulders,“I really couldn’t say….probably not.” It was refreshingly honest and not at all malicious. He hadn’t called either. She hadn’t given it a second though the entire day, and when he did call the next day, she was pleased he had. They talked for over an hour.
Katarina knew which photo was best. The different colors and shapes and how everything worked together had won the day. The ease of the time spent with Antoine, had won her over. She picked up the phone and let the editor know that she would be sending her the final layout by end of business. The next call was to Antoine. She invited him to dinner. He accepted.