Tag Archives: escape

An IWOM Takes NYC

27 Mar

NYC2

My apologies for being away, darlings. The International Woman of Mystery has been busy. I wish I could say I was out exploring the pyramids of Egypt of skiing the Swiss Alps. Alas, it hasn’t been quite so exciting. However, I did recently take a business trip to New York City, which has left me feeling inspired.

The trip was unexpected. I got a call from one of my bosses late on a Thursday asking if I could be in the city to attend a weekend conference. At first I was a little annoyed by the last minute request, but then it occurred to me that I’ve never actually spent much time in New York. Nor had I ever traveled there alone. It seemed liked the perfect excuse to take Jenny G. on a little impromptu adventure.

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Wedding Bell Blues: Take II

1 Oct

AKA: What I should have done:

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My plane touches down at SAN late Saturday morning. Arrival time was supposed to be 9:30 but there was a delay and it’s nearly noon. I might have booked it a little close, considering the wedding starts at 2:00. It was the best I could do. I’m a busy woman.

Weddings really aren’t my cup of tea, but a promise is a promise and I’m a woman of my word.

I make my way off the crowded plane. No time for baggage claim and anyway, I’ve packed light – the usual essentials in a small, black gym bag and a proper beaded clutch for the wedding, as a carryon.  I almost didn’t pack a dress, thinking I’d pick something up at a local boutique. Thankfully, The International Woman of Mystery is always prepared. I’ve brought a spare. I retrieve it from the bottom of the bag. The bag goes in an airport locker. I duck into a bathroom just long enough to reapply my lipstick.

I left my Batmobile at home, but I’ve arranged for something quite suitable. I follow the signs in the airport, practically sprinting and holding my breath. I phoned the car service, but I’m hoping they relayed the message that I’d be arriving late.

As I round the corner to ground transportation, I’m relieved to find that all is well. A stout, older gentleman in a fine suit holds a sign that simply reads my first and last name. My ride awaits. We exchange pleasantries. His name is Charles. I retrieve my largest, darkest sunglasses from my bag, while he opens the car door for me. It’s a simple Lincoln town car but the inside is plush and comfortable. I wanted to reserve a Jag but I was being discreet. I’m not the bride after all. No need to show off. Let’s just hope Charles can get me to the church on time.

I haven’t booked a hotel room, because I can’t be sure I’ll stay the night. The back of the car will have to serve as my dressing room. Charles politely averts his eyes, as I strip out of my trench coat and shift and into the slinky black number without even taking my heels off. He seems impressed by my stealth and speed, but then I’m sure he’s seen it all.

Charles is a good driver. We weave through the traffic of Saturday beachgoers and he drops me at the wedding venue with a half an hour to spare. I take his card, in case I require his services later. A few of the other wedding goers have also arrived and are staring at me. I leave my sunglasses on and let them wonder.

I find a seat near the back of the sanctuary. Recognize a few of our old classmates and friends, or at least I think I do from my recently deleted Facebook account. An International Woman of Mystery doesn’t do Facebook. But I recognize their babies from the barrage of photos, and it seems my old school mates recognize me too. They greet me voraciously and ask me dozens of invasive questions. How have I been? Am I married yet? What happened to he-who-shall-not-be-named? Where am I living? What do I do? Am I married yet? They want to know how it is that I came to arrive in the back of a town car. But I’ll never talk.

In the James Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies,” Q tells Bond two rules: No. 1 is never let them see you bleed. No. 2 is always have an escape plan. This is kind of like that.

I deflect their questions to the best of my ability. This is such a silly game we play.  I tell them I’ve been busy, because it isn’t a lie and then I ask them the same annoying questions in return. It seems to work. These types really only like talking about themselves anyway.

After Amber’s lovely ceremony, I’ve got a couple of hours to kill. I have no interest in mingling with the interrogators, so I slip out a side door. According to the location device on my phone, there’s a corner pub in walking distance called Todd’s Place. It’s generic. Very San Diego. And also practically empty. A perfect place to hide. I sidle up to the bar and order a Manhattan. A few of the local boys stare at me from across the room. One approaches and offers to buy my drink. I decline. I buy my own drinks. The dude asks me what I do for a living. I tell him I’m an International Woman of Mystery. He scoffs. I toss my Manhattan in his face and exit.

I meander the streets of San Diego until it’s time to appear at the reception. I arrive a few minutes fashionably late and just in time for aperitifs. Snag a glass of wine and manage to blend in behind a cluster of older relatives. While waiting for the tuna tar tare a waiter opens a door into me. I spill wine on my dress. It’s white wine, but on black silk it makes a big splotch. Undeterred I turn to one of the servers holding an ice bucket. I give him a wink and ask to borrow it. Never let them see you bleed.

I fashion a compress out of a napkin and some ice and slide into a seat at one of the tables before anyone can notice. It’s an easy enough fix, if I can just stay seated long enough. It’s not my assigned table, but no one needs to know that. I spill the rest of my wine on the name card. The ink blurs. A waiter snaps to attention. Whisks away the glass, the name card and any trace of the seat belonging to someone. I didn’t really feel like sitting with Drunk Uncle Robert anyhow.

The rest of the night is a blur of clinking glasses and bad party dances. The interrogators spot me again sometime after dinner has been cleared and cake service is about to start.They want to ask me more questions, but I’ll not get caught in this trap again. I spot a random, lonely looking man standing by the guest book.

“I’m so sorry ladies,” I tell them, “But I promised that gentleman over there a dance. Please excuse me.”

“It was so great to see you,” I call to them over my shoulder.

The DJ is queuing up a lively enough number. I approach the man. A complete stranger. Cute enough I guess.

“Hello,” I say to him. “You don’t know me, but I’m going to teach you how to tango now.”

To my surprise, he doesn’t argue. I grab his hand and secure us a spot in the middle of the crowd. I teach him a few moves. The song wraps. An announcement is made that the bouquet toss is about to begin. My new dance partner looks around bewildered as the stampede of single women descends upon the dance floor. I whisper in his ear that it’s time for me to go. He turns to ask for my number but I’m already gone.

Outside the reception hall, Charles has received my text and is already waiting for me with the town car. Door open. I slide inside.

“Back to the airport, Ms. G?” he asks. I nod in the affirmative. He closes the door behind me and drives off into the night.

Always have an escape plan.

Running with James Bond

26 Sep

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I’ve been here a week now and reality settled in about an hour ago. It’s Saturday night, and in my empty apartment, I’m hate watching yet another James Bond marathon.

The sounds of the people around me, none of whom I know, makes me feel alone. The drunken twentysomethings on the street make me miss my friends and social life. I’m no longer part of Boston, but I am not part of Denver either.

The city lights outside my window usually comfort me with the promise of human activity, and I suppose they are better than no city lights, but knowing that there are all these people out there, just there, right outside my window, makes me feel the unbearable weight of everything that just happened. I promised myself I wouldn’t do this. James Bond never would have sat home on a Saturday night.

It’s been nine days since Jake dumped me.

Two Thursdays ago, he got home from law school as I was finishing up a work report. He was home later than usual and hadn’t responded to my texts asking where he was, if he was okay. He quietly set his bag down, took his jacket off. He looked disturbed, and seemed in a daze. He sat down on the chair across from me.

“Hey.” I tried to catch his eye.

He stared unblinking for a few moments, then looked straight at me. “I can’t do this anymore.”

“What do you mean? Law school?” My heart raced and the blood rushed to my face.

“No. I can’t do ‘us’ anymore.”

“What?” I furrowed my brows at him.

“This is too much. I’m sorry, Dee. I just can’t. I’ve been walking around all night and I just – I’ve had to change so much.” He stopped for a moment, rubbed his hands together.

“In the midst of becoming the man I really want to be, and this was the hardest three years of my life, and God, I’ve had to study more than humanly possible, I’ve had my intelligence tested, I’ve also met all these incredibly interesting people, and it’s opened my eyes to the world, and got me thinking about what I want, and I—“ He stopped and looked back up at me.

“What the fuck? Are you saying?”

Jake took a defeated breath. “I’m not in love with you anymore.”

My chest tightened. My face was hot. I felt dizzy. Tears streamed down my face, onto my neck and the blanket. My mind raced and slowed at the same time, hyper-focusing on certain words and memories. I felt immobilized. He stayed where he was.

“Leave,” I finally said into my hands.

“What?”

I looked up, shooting invisible daggers at this face. “Get the fuck out.”

Jake nodded. Put his head down, hands on his knees, pushed himself up and walked to the door without looking at me. He put on his jacket with confidence.

“I’ll be at the pub if you need me.” He slammed the door behind him.

Maybe it was the pain, maybe I knew this time he meant it, maybe my heart couldn’t handle it, but something compelling came over me that I’ve never felt before. With remarkable clarity, I knew exactly what I had to do.

I ransacked our apartment, gathering everything I couldn’t live without. I pulled everything from my closet and dresser and, thinking about all the woman-on-the-run books and movies I’d consumed, I combed the apartment for paperwork and mementos. I packed my laptop and power cord, took off the ring and carefully packed it into my purse.

The furniture, dishes and most of my books stayed behind. Everything I didn’t want ended up in “donate” bags that I left in a corner of the bedroom. Then, I straightened the entire apartment. Terrified at getting caught, I worked at Super Woman speed.

Two hours later, I left my keys on the kitchen counter, lugged my suitcases downstairs, and hailed a taxi.

In the taxi, I logged into my bank account and transferred all my wedding money savings to my checking account. It was about 10 p.m. and there wouldn’t be any more flights tonight, so the taxi dropped me at an airport hotel.

From my hotel room, I texted just enough people to let them know not to worry.

“Jake dumped me. I moved out. Heading out of town. Will check in in a few days. Don’t worry.” I received several texts back but couldn’t bear to look at them. I also couldn’t help but notice that I hadn’t received any texts from Jake asking where I was, and haven’t received any from him since.

I had to leave as early as possible the next morning. I looked up the earliest flights, and Denver caught my eye. The expanse of empty land between Boston and Denver appealed to me very much.

The TV put me to sleep in my plush hotel bed, and when I woke, I was ecstatic about the idea of Denver. I felt strangely powerful. It was the exhilaration of running fast with the delusion that you are winning.

It was a flimsy feeling, because beneath it, a hole was burrowing itself where Jake used to be.

I need a distraction, a goal and a plan.

Every night is Saturday night when you are James Bond. Or, better yet, an International Woman of Mystery.