“You can’t be serious,” Lux said. “You’re really going to see that movie?”
“Oh my god, are you kidding?!” I exclaimed. “I can’t wait! I’ve read each of the books like five times.”
“Yes! I love them!” I said and tightened my grip on the subway pole to steady myself.
They both looked at me, somewhat horrified.
“Okay, look,” I said quickly. “I know they’re not well-written and the sex scenes are ridiculous and boring but there’s something…there’s something about the story of two fucked up people evolving and working it out.” I sighed. “I like it.”
Lux raised her eyebrows at me. “Okay.” And then she turned to McKenzie. “So, about our running group. I think we should meet at like 6:30am a few times a week.”
“That’s fine,” said McKenzie. “I’ll be running anyway.” McKenzie, who has run the NYC marathon two years in a row and always had some sort of race coming up. On Mondays when we talk about our weekends she’ll say something like, “Oh, and on Sunday I ran eleven miles.” And she’ll say it so matter of fact, not bragging at all, just like it was no big deal.
Then I’ll tell her that the only activity I’d done over the weekend was to take out the garbage.
“Tracey, can you make it uptown to us by 6:30?” Lux asked.
“Oh geez, I don’t know,” I said. “Is it even safe to be out that early?”
“What are you talking about?” Lux asked. “It’s 6:30. It’s not like it’s -”
I put my hand up. “Can we talk about this when we’ve not all had multiple drinks?”
And then they laughed.
But it was that kind of sad laughter.
Because see, we were riding the subway uptown, as we all lived there, after having drinks for Lux’s last day at the company.
There’s actually nothing of note in regards to Lux’s departure. It was just time for her to take the next step in her journey.
It didn’t even really hit me that she was gone until that Thursday morning, when I posted Strangers (Sort of) In the Night. I expected her to appear at my desk, as usual, huge Starbucks in hand and give her input on what I’d posted. If it was a cliffhanger, she’d always say, “What’s going to happen? Tell me!”
And I’d say, “Come on, it’ll be more interesting if you read it.”
And she’d respond with, “I’m going to read it no matter what, so just TELL ME.” Sometimes she’d be so excited, she’d text me five minutes after I posted something and say, ‘WHAT IS GOING ON? TELL ME NOW!”
And when she didn’t show up that day, I knew things had really changed.
I’ve mentioned a few times about what Lux has done for this blog. She built the site, taught me how to use it, created the logo, Facebook page and showed me, as time went on, how to improve my efforts. Without Lux, this blog would not exist. Period.
And I’ve also mentioned what she did to help me in my dating life. Such as helping me pick out my manicure colors or outfits or shoes for various dates, pushing me to keep on getting out there when I really didn’t want to, rewriting my online profile and securing me a Dating Intern.
But what I haven’t talked about, are all the other things she’s done for me in the time we’ve known each other. Such as, she’d been the one who said (over and over) when I first got promoted and was terrified because I didn’t know what I was doing, “TRACEY. You’re a writer. That’s what you are. You don’t get promoted because people think you’re nice or because you’re President of the Fun Committee. This is business. You now write for a living. You’re the only one who thinks you can’t do this, so SUCK IT UP and DO IT.”
Or when I came to her recently and said I was ready to start building my consolidated writing website and told her a few of my thoughts, she came back with the most incredible twists on my ideas, twists that would turn my site into something really impressive. I’d just sat there with my jaw dropped, and then managed, “Those…those are really good ideas.”
“Great,” she’d said. “Let’s do it after the holidays. We should probably set another photoshoot too.”
And I remember wondering why she kept wanting to help me.
I still don’t have the answer. But I do know that all the ‘thank yous’ I’ve said to her, could not match what she’s added to my life.
But, still, when we got off the subway after her Farewell Drinks, Lux and McKenzie to continue a few blocks uptown and me, to continue a few blocks down, I didn’t hug her goodbye.
Because then it would feel like this was it.
“So. We’re doing the running group,” McKenzie said, matter of factly, plunging her hands into her pockets to keep out the cold. “We’ll start after the New Year. I’ll send you guys an Outlook invite.”
I smiled at the two of them. “Well, let’s see how we all feel about it when we’re sober.” Because, of course, I knew about work friends. It’s easy to form ties when you’re in a rarefied and intense environment, slugging it out together day after day. But after one of you leaves, and real life takes over, it’s even easier for those ties to loosen, and eventually fray and come apart. And before you know it, the people who you talked to every day, who knew everything about your life, suddenly your only interaction is to ‘Like’ each other’s pictures on Instagram.
I pulled my hood on and turned to go.
“Tracey!” Lux called after me.
“Yeah?” I said as I turned back.
“I’m serious about the writing website. I want you to bug me about it. We’re going to do this. You know how I can be, you’ll think you’re bugging me, but you’re not. We’re totally going to do this. You’re going to be a writing rock-star! It’s going to be awesome!” And then she added earnestly, “I really mean it.”
“Okay,” I said, nodding. And I’m not sure if I was blinking back maybe a bit of tears.
Or maybe it just was the frigid wind. I don’t know.
She then turned to McKenzie. “Let’s go get some pizza.” And then they linked their arms together and were off.
And as I turned towards home, I thought to myself, “It’s not going to be the same. It will never be the same. But maybe it will be okay. Maybe it will be even better than okay. Maybe it really will be – awesome.”
So. Not going to say an official goodbye to you, Lux.
Instead I’ll just say – I’ll see you at 6:30am, some day after the New Year.