Single In The Suburbs, Installment 134

Distracted at work, Sara’s mentally preparing herself for possible unemployment and imagining how Ethan will react to the news while trying to comfort her coworkers.

By Sara Susannah Katz

To read the entire series of articles from the beginning, click here.

n our previous installment, our writer, Sara, was mentally listing the positives and negatives of possible unemployment and wondering how her now-beau Ethan would react to the news. But is the worst really about to happen?

Wednesday, 11:45 a.m.
I pick up the phone so fast the receiver flies out of my hand and into the framed picture of my kids on the desk. I’m certain it’s HR, but actually it’s Craig. He chides me for not answering my cell, but my cell is dead and I let him know I couldn’t have answered it for that very reason. (I forgot to recharge it.) He gives me more grief and
I will myself not to cry. Not now. Especially not with Craig.
I tell him, “Hey, aren’t we divorced? I think that means I’m no longer at your beck and call.” He laughs and apologizes and says he was just wondering if I wanted to meet for lunch.

I don’t say anything for a minute, and he knows from my pause that something’s wrong. That’s the thing; Craig and I are still able to read each others’ minds, even though we’re not married anymore. I want to tell him the truth but I don’t want him feeling sorry for me. When we were married, we had our roles: I was the damsel in distress and he was the superhero swooping down to save me.

“Now is not a good time for lunch,” I say firmly.

“What’s wrong? What’s happening? Tell me.” Craig sounds genuinely concerned.

“Um...” I get up and close my door. “We’re having a bloodbath here. They’re downsizing, firing, whatever. People are in the bathroom throwing up.” Now I can feel it, the lump in my throat, the beginning of tears. I will myself not to cry. Not now. Especially not with Craig.

“Are you going to lose your job?” he asks.

I tell him the truth. “I believe I am. Yes. I actually think I’m about to be laid off.”

Now Craig is in problem-solving mode. He wants to know how much I have in my 401(k). He says I could take out a second mortgage. He says I could take in a roommate. He stops short of offering me money because he has been through enough therapy to know that would be “the recycling of old patterns,” or whatever his shrink called it. I’m now aware that I feel guilty for talking to Craig about this before telling Ethan. I’m sharing something intimate — with my ex-husband. Shouldn’t the honor of knowing I’m terrified go to the new man in my life?

Wednesday, 12:15 p.m.
Adrian is at my door. “I just got the call from HR. They want to see me.” She bites her lower lip. “Wish me luck.”

“Hey. Good luck,” I say.

Adrian shrugs. “I’m a trust fund baby. I’ll be fine. I
I can feel myself shift from sympathy to envy, possibly even hatred.
only took this job because my grandfather made me. He owns an oil company.”

I can feel myself shift from sympathy to envy, possibly even hatred. I had no idea Adrian was a trust fund baby, but now it all makes sense. How else could a secretary afford to drive a BMW convertible? Ugh.

Not more than five minutes later, Adrian is back. She pulls her bag out of the bottom drawer, grabs her leather jacket off the coat hook beside her desk and waves vaguely around the suite. “I’m outta here. Nice working with you kids.” She obviously hadn’t shed any tears over losing her job. “I guess I’m going to Daytona Beach.”

Now I really hate her… and then my phone rings. It’s my boss. “Can I see you in my office, please?” Her voice is clotted and dull. I tell her I’ll be right there.

Wednesday, 12:30 p.m.
As I walk down the hall to my boss’s office, I’m aware that I’ve got my shoulders up around my ears. My shoulders are where I keep all my tension, and whenever I get nervous, I pull them up without realizing it (until a massage therapist once noticed it and told me to force them back down). Which is what I’m trying to do right now. But they keep inching up. My hands are tingling. My heart is racing. I have a feeling everyone is watching me as I make my way out down the hall. I’m trying not to cry. I’m trying to tell myself that it’s going to be OK, that I am entering the ranks of a worldwide league of great people who got laid off in a terrible economy.

I walk into my boss’s office, trembling slightly.

Attention, faithful fans of Single in the Suburbs! Our writer, Sara, will be winding down her column with the final installment scheduled to appear in October 2010. We’d love to hear how the ongoing saga of Sara’s love life has affected you personally. Have you tried online dating yourself? Have you struggled to re-enter the dating world after the end of a long-term relationship? Did Sara’s story encourage you to get out there and date again? Send your thoughts to Your comments and stories may be included in a follow-up article discussing the series’ overall impact and what Sara sees for herself in the future.

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 135

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