Someone To Love
“How long have you and Sam known each other?” Antonia asks.
I try to count the years in my head. They all blend together.
“During elementary school. I don’t remember which grade.”
“And you don’t think that this whole time, he hasn’t had at least one thought about you guys getting together?”
I look at his texts, remembering how we used to be inseparable. How we used to walk around at the marina and pretend that someday we’d sail away on our own boat and travel the world.
It’s different now. We’re older. We’re still friends, of course, but not best friends. Not friends who can tell each other everything.
It would be so weird to talk to him about liking another guy.
Hoping Sam will understand, I start to type out an apology.
SAM: Pick u up?
LIV: Antonia’s back. She says hi :-)
“What did he say?” Antonia asks.
“He hasn’t answered yet. He’s probably trying to make me sweat.”
“Just put the blame on me. He knows I don’t take no for an answer. He can handle us having a little girl time without him anyway. He’s a big boy. He’s got his own life.”
SAM: Does she wanna come?
LIV: Don’t hate me...
LIV: She wants me to go to a party. Girls only. You know how she is :-)
I can’t bring myself to tell him the specifics—or that he’s technically not invited and that I don’t want him to crash the party either. When Sam doesn’t answer, my stomach sinks. How do I always somehow feel like I’m disappointing him?
“Life’s so different in the Dominican Republic,” Antonia says, talking about where she spent all summer. “Besides, like, having family around all the time, there’s practically a party every single night. Everyone’s invited. Grandparents, little kids, the weird guy who lives down the street. People are so helpful too. I was driving in Santo Domingo and I ran out of gas in the middle of the highway. Some guy just went and got gas for me, then another guy stopped to siphon the gas from the jug with his mouth. I’m pretty sure he inhaled some toxic fumes just to help me.”
“That’s crazy,” I say. “If that happened here, someone would probably just try to run you off the road.”
Finishing her eyeliner, Antonia continues her story without skipping a beat. “And I met this old guy who started teaching me the accordion so I can play merengue. I know that’s an instrument only nerds play, but I’m obsessed. Mama made a deal with me that she’ll buy me one if I start writing my own music.”
“Your mom’s so cool,” I say. “My parents insist painting is a hobby I’ll grow out of.” I might not share their love for politics, but I still respect their passions. I wish they could understand that painting isn’t some kind of craft for me. It’s my lifeline.
“Then you’ll have to prove them wrong!” Antonia snaps her makeup case shut.
“Well, actually, I talked to Ms. Day earlier this week and she recommended I submit a portfolio for this gallery showing. It’s supposed to be pretty prestigious...”
My phone vibrates again.
SAM: K. Surfing early tmrw morning. Night.
LIV: Sry. Wanna get together later this weekend?
There’s no answer. I think about asking him, but I don’t want to find out yet.
He’s probably pissed at me. Maybe he doesn’t actually care. Who knows? Boys are so hard to interpret over text. Why am I so worried about what he thinks about what I do with my life? We’re not together. Tonight’s about having fun. Letting loose.
That’s who I am now. Right?
Fun girl. Life of the party. Girl of the century.
s i x (#u1995046c-ced6-510f-bc7e-f1466276fb70)
“Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it.”
“This is insane,” says Antonia. “It’s so...”
“Expensive,” I say, finishing her sentence.
Antonia and I are scoping out the main open area of the upper deck of the Royal Elizabeth. It’s decorated with gorgeous displays of white flowers everywhere, and lighting glows around the edges of the boat, making the atmosphere seem heavenly. In the center of the floor, where people are gathering and chatting, there’s an open bar stacked high with pyramids of champagne flutes. A DJ plays low-key electronic music while guests lounge on chic white sofas or wander outside to lean against the railing, looking out at the water.
“This is why I love LA. You never know where you might get invited. I’ve been to a few parties, but I mean, this is ridiculous. Can you imagine if my parents let me throw a party like this? Or, like, if we had the money to throw a party like this?”
Antonia has become a complete chatterbox. She gets like this in social situations—all giddy and energetic. Her hair is down. Tight golden-brown curls fall over the spaghetti straps of her yellow dress.
I wish I were as gorgeous as her. It barely takes her any effort—or makeup—to look like a total superstar.
I’m her opposite, wearing the black dress she loaned me. It’s my color lately. The dress still feels too tight though. The fabric constricts around my rib cage like a python. My stomach cramps as anxious thoughts bubble up behind my eyes. I’m too pale, practically a phantom, especially compared to all of the confident women strutting and giggling around the room. Half of them are probably actresses Zach knows from work.
Both Zach and Jackson are nowhere to be seen—not that I would have the courage right now to walk up and start a conversation with them anyway.
That’s probably going to take some liquid courage.
“Look at those,” Antonia says, watching a caterer walk by with a platter full of delicious-looking crostini. “Thank God, I’m starving.”
Even though she ate at her house, Antonia makes a beeline for the hors d’oeuvres. I swear that girl can eat anything and not gain an ounce. I know I shouldn’t eat and that I’ll feel guilty later, but the appetizers look delicious. I’m thinking about whether I should approach the table when Antonia turns around with a plate in her hand. “You need to eat, Liv. Get something in your stomach before we start drinking.”
“I don’t know...” I hesitate. “This dress...”
“Stop. You look great. Don’t you want to drink?”
I sigh. “Yeah. I guess.”
Antonia puts a hand on my shoulder. “Girl. You have nothing to worry about,” she says, nodding at a young woman walking across the deck with a scowl on her face. “Look at her. She obviously hasn’t eaten all day. She looks completely miserable.”