The Wait

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I am walking down the street. The lights in the shops are going off. Is it that time already? It cannot be! Yet, I can still hear Cuban music blaring from the café at the corner, still smell the curry from the Indian restaurant across the street. Good thing Amy lived in a neighborhood full with life even after seven; otherwise, I would have gone crazy with agitation and anticipation. But I calm down, reminding myself that the waiting will be over in the morning. If it were up to me, I would not have to wait for the morning, I would have gone there at midnight, but Iris tells me that hastiness will get me nowhere and that waiting for the morning to come is the best idea. Of course, she does not understand the meaning of the event—how millions and millions of people from all around the world wait for that overlap of the hands of the clock this evening… no, she has no idea how important this is to me. But, I will wait. Patience is not my virtue, but I will try, just to prove how much this means to me.
There is the wait: the uncertainty of it all. You are never too sure of whether or not it is really going to happen. After so many delays, rumors, criticism, hope starts to fade a little. But, never completely. Then, the buzz starts enveloping the mystery. An article mentions a factory in Germany, a report says there are inspections twice a day, and all the work is done in complete darkness. One would think that is not possible in the 21st century; yet, people said it was done so. I was itching to know it all, hungry for more. And I was not the only one. Emerson put up posts with news on his web site practically every hour. I need not say that his became the most visited web site on my computer. I would just sit there at my desk, almost glued to the screen, clicking the ‘Refresh’ button over and over again, hoping there will be something new when the site reloads.
That flicker of hope is not lost even in the dead of night. I lay awake, staring at the ceiling, trying to fall asleep. When I turn, my gaze falls to the poster of the kitten on the wall—which reminds me immediately of the pending event, and makes my falling asleep seem even less possible. I try to focus on other things, like why would Darius have posters of cats displayed on the walls of his apartment. It is indeed weird for a sixty-year-old bachelor to have such images on his living room wall. To ponder upon this question really is useless, so turn to the side and think for what looks like the billionth time that month why Iris and I had to stay at Darius’s flat; why Amy’s boyfriend is so obstinate, claiming he needs peace and quiet to study for his exams, when I know for a fact that he watched March of the Penguins during his “study time”...
This is getting me nowhere. So, I try the old method, thinking of something that is not substantial to what is about to happen all over the world: I recite the lyrics of a Simple Plan song in my mind. The first one I thought of was ‘Untitled’. Funny I should think of the song named such at this time when I am trying to completely erase all anxiety by blanking out my mind. I recall what the song is about—the music video is still so vivid in my head—how petty people consider the lives of each other, how the consequences of their actions might affect the lives of an entire family. How innocent people lose their lives for nothing every day, because people just do not care…
My eyes snap open. How long was I asleep? I turn over to check the digital clock on my cell phone: it is 5:35. Well, it is still dark outside, and it is summer, so it must be just before dawn. I still feel the anxiety, only it has been multiplied by a thousand since last night. At the thought of how many people in the world have it in their hands already I feel a fist of excitement forming in my stomach. I throw the covers off me, thankful for the early wake; these past few days had been extremely difficult for me, and the heat was not making my life more bearable. Oh, how I miss the wind and the rain of Seattle! But, being in Europe is a one-time chance, and Amy found us this apartment for free, so Iris and I took the opportunity and sat on the first flight to Vienna available. A little over two days later we were standing at Vienna International Airport, being hugged by Amy and saluted awkwardly by William, Amy’s boyfriend of four years. Jet-lagged, but genuinely happy to be there, I started enjoying the visit from the moment we left the airport. I doubted she wanted to do more than check out Amy’s flat, but Iris was willing to pay for her plane ticket, and I really do hate flying alone (not once was I lost at an airport). I was definitely determined to get the most of this vacation.
I think about all of this as I brush my teeth, trying not to look in the mirror, as I know there I will see a crazed look in my eyes. I continue on to brushing my hair and picking out the clothes I will wear today. After all, it is a special day—the day I will finally get to hold it in my hands. I realize it is a little over six o’clock when I am ready, so I sit down (otherwise I would have paced the room a million times over) and think of another reason for coming to Europe, a reason I shared with nobody. I so wanted to attend the MRP—I even got an invitation from Thalia—but from the way Amy talked about it, I knew it was a no-go. Even though I did not attend the MRP, I could feel the cheers from my friends all over the world as they celebrated July 21st. There was a great thing about Europe: the MRPs were six to nine hours prior to the ones in the States. Sure, I would have gone to Australia to attend one even earlier, but Emily had just too much going on even without guests. I sigh as I look out the window at the rising sun—well, the bits and pieces of it that were not hidden behind the enormous cathedral on the east horizon. Yes, I sure am lucky to be right here, right now.
I start feeling as if I am being electrocuted. Then I know it is time to get up and out of my chair before I break it. I get out my iPod and look for a certain song. Ah, here it is: ‘Mambo No. 5’ by Lou Bega. This song makes me dance regardless of my mood, and since dancing is one of the few things I am proud to say I am good at, I get up as silently as I can and leave the bedroom I share with Iris. I go to hallway and press play. The trumpets and the catchy rhythm start blaring through my earphones as I start moving around. I used to think that learning how to dance mambo when I was younger would never benefit me; now it helped me stay sane in all this craziness. It is odd dancing alone, especially mambo, but the song is just so good I forget about all my worries and move across the room with vigor. I put the song on ‘repeat’ and keep on dancing until Iris wakes up and gives me a really weird look, clearly keeping the “this girl’s got problems” to herself. And I am fine with it. Anything to keep my mind off the pending event.
Amy arrives around ten. Where did the time fly by? I am so thankful of my passion for dancing and music, of the ability to distract myself from the wait. We start walking to Mariahilferstraße—when we reach the nearest subway station and I turn to walk down the stairs, Amy laughs and says she feels like walking to Thalia. At that split second I hate her for mocking me in such a way, but I go along with it anyway. What else can I do? I do not know the city well enough, so I cannot just go there by myself. I groan as I think of the final destination—at the other end of Mariahilferstraße. When we finally reach Thalia, it is well past eleven o’clock and I am just short of mad. Then Amy and I enter. A totally different world. It quickly becomes one of my favorite places on Earth. I follow Amy to the second floor, to the counter where I get my copy, stamped with the proof that I was one of the first people in the world to pre-order it. I remember to pick up one more copy from a nearby pile; it was Mia’s birthday soon, and I had promised her a great present. When we walk out of Thalia Amy almost binds my hands together to keep me from opening it and plowing headfirst into a street sign or a person. When we reach our end of Mariahilferstraße, I realize that Amy is taking the left turn instead of the right one leading to her street. This is when she tells me we are meeting Iris at the closest Starbucks. I moan—the closest Starbucks is at least ten minutes away. As Amy is using the slowest stride she has ever used, I start suspecting a conspiracy. I mean, she and Iris are surely not fond of my obsession (I finally admit it). But again I say nothing; I figure that if I keep silent and endure the wait for a few more minutes, I will enjoy it more later.
I barely notice what I order at Starbucks—I think I had a mango smoothie—and find a table next to the shop window. As I open it, I remember only blurs of things. Yes, yes, just as I suspected… Hmmm, yes, everything confirmed... Just as I thought… No, George, no... Ah, a very interesting twist indeed... When I stop for a few seconds to sip my drink, I see people staring at me through the shop window. I know it is not me that caught their attention: it is what I am holding. I can just hear the mental note they are making: “Oh, it is out, I see. I’ll stop by Thalia after work to pick up my own copy.” But I pay no great attention to them. I dive into it again, into a trans-like state of mind.
What, it is time to leave? We have been here for two hours?! Impossible! Yet true, as I take a look at the clock on my cell phone. A twenty-five-minute walk to Amy’s apartment. I half-heartedly help out with the lunch, not even hungry, even though I have not eaten anything the whole day. Huh, my life has completely veered off course today, has it not? Then, William comes home from work, looking at me as if I had turned purple. I ignore him, as usual, and go on with my business. But, I do hear him ask whether we would like to watch Madagascar; anyone who knows me at all can say that Madagascar is one of my all-time favorite movies. I sigh as I agree to watch it with them—I need at least one thing today to be normal. Surprisingly, I do enjoy it. Aside my love of animals, Marty, Melman, Gloria, and Alex take me to a different world, a carefree world, without the hustle and bustle of the big city. As the credits roll down the screen, William tricks me into staying there and watching ‘Allo! ‘Allo! ; I definitely suspect foul play now. He never wants to do anything fun, and he chooses today to be the good boyfriend. Ugh, men (I have to blame somebody).
When Iris and I finally get back to Darius’s apartment, the sun has already set and it is well over nine o’clock. I cannot believe I went on for so long without it, and did not have the time to fully enjoy it today! Notwithstanding, I have time now. I flop onto the bed and get lost into it. When I finally put it down, I see that Iris has gone to bed, the clock on my cell phone saying 4:21. I get up and stretch. As I brush my teeth I think of all my predictions about it: they were true. Who knew I had such a good intuition? I get into the bed, happier than ever before. Yes, all was well, and this was one of the best days of my life.
I wake up the morning after around nine, at my usual time. I thought I would sleep more after last night, but my system seems programmed to wake up at this time, and that is fine with me. I enjoy the morning. During breakfast Amy asks me whether she can look at my copy; I see no reason why I should not give it to her. She is my best friend, after all. Later that day I see Amy curled up in the armchair, engrossed in it. I smile to myself. The days go by. We visit many places, go shopping, have fun. I even made Amy go to the zoo one day; Vienna has the oldest zoo in the world, and with me being the animal lover that I am, I could not pass up the offer (if I can call it that). Amy finished it in a week, also amazed by it. What can I say, it has mysterious powers. The day of our departure comes, and I am very sad to go, even though I think Iris is fed up with this place by now. I have the memories to always remind me of this summer in Vienna.
I had the most amazing summer ever. I do not think I will ever forget it; I might even tell my grandchildren about that special trip to Europe. It brought on an ending, a spectacular ending, never-before-seen. Nonetheless, I feel emptiness inside me that the ending has left as I say to myself: “What now?” Although during most of the fifteen-hour flight I have these thoughts, I even manage to sleep a little. As the plane is landing in Seattle, I feel the inaudible whisper: “Welcome home.”





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