I have just finished helping a total stranger move his stuff into... my apartment.
Yes, you heard me right. My apartment.
He just returned to the States after a stint teaching English to kids in China.
Okay, that's just awesome.
His name is Drew Jackson. To describe him, I'd say he's just shy of six feet, slim yet athletic. Rather shy looking green eyes and buzzed blond hair. He looks like he's straight out of an old photo of a Navy sailor, much like my father was.
You don't see too many men who look like this. Most of the ones I run into have weird emo hairstyles or they use more styling products than their female counterparts. Kind of creepy if you ask me.
Well, with this guy as my new roommate, I'm going to have to get used to it I suppose.
The two of us stood rather awkwardly in the kitchen together. I'd long since changed into sweat pants and my company "Team Fox" t-shirt.
He sat down on a kitchen stool leaning his elbows on the island.
"I'm about to make a sandwich. Can I get you one?"
Drew raised an eyebrow. "Did you say sandwich?"
"I did. Honey roasted turkey. You interested?"
Opening up the fridge, I fished out the bread, turkey, mayonnaise, and some muenster cheese. It's by far my favorite.
Five minutes later, we were munching on lunch and drinking some new pineapple mango juice that had looked appealing at the store. It was pretty damn good.
"So..." I shifted toward Drew a bit. "How do you and Kevin know each other."
"He and I actually used to be roommates." A smile came across his face. "We went to Georgetown together. Both finance majors. Freshman year we were placed together and we joined the same frat. So we just kept on living together. We're like, the perfect couple."
"And he has a sense of humor!"
"Kevin has quite the gig over at Raymond James. Is that why you came here?"
"Not at all," he shook his head. "After graduation I was over at Goldman Sachs in New York for four years. My dad is a corporate vice-president."
"Like father like son?"
His face fell just a little. "No," Drew said quietly. "Actually, that's why I'm not there anymore. I was working 70 - 80 hours a week. The money was great, but I never saw anyone outside of colleagues and clients. And the job itself... I didn't feel like I was making a difference in anyone's life. It was, well, work. I was dating this really nice girl, but I just didn't feel right at that point in my life. "
"I'm sorry to hear that. Doesn't sound like you were too happy there."
"Anyways, late one night, it must have been four or five in the morning... I found this Web site with information on how Americans can teach English in other countries. The school pays you a modest salary, your plane ticket, and an apartment in exchange for a year long contract. It sounded like just what I needed. To take a break, think about what I really wanted to do, and to help kids learn. I applied to become a teacher, and was accepted. Broke up with the girlfriend. But then I had to break the news to Dad. He really flipped. Told me that I was throwing my life away and that I was a jackass."
I took another sip of juice. "Sounds like he was less than thrilled."
"You can say that again. Long story short, I decided to go to China. He hasn't spoken to me since. My mom has written me some letters and calls and emails occasionally. She's trying to get him to soften up, but it hasn't worked."
"I'm not even sure what to say to that. I bet you miss them."
"Definitely. I wish Dad would at least see me, but he won't even let me come into the house. He cut me off completely. But just so you know, I don't regret my decision. It was the best year of my life with those kids. I just got back last month, crashed with a friend in Shadyside for awhile, then chose to come here to get my masters in Education so that I can continue working with children. While I was working, I was able to save a lot of money up. That'll pay for school."
"Oh..." I looked away for a moment. "That's a really wonderful plan."
"But enough about me," he plastered on a small forced smile. "What are you doing here?"
"Well... I'm 24. Born and raised near Buffalo. Went to a really tiny college, also in Pennsylvania. Used to live in Texas producing newscasts. Then I got this job here in the Tampa area to produce feature stories. It's a lot more low key and laid back. Not to mention, I finally get weekends and holidays off!"
"Are you happy?"
Hmm. I tilted my head to one side. "Sometimes I believe that I am. But many times, I feel like I'm totally alone. Like I don't fit in, I guess? Anywhere. You know, you're way too open to be a guy."
"A ha. And you're way too closed off to be a girl, Claire."
"That's an entirely different conversation in itself."
With that, I stood up, put our dishes in the sink, and retreated to my room.