Twice as Nice

“Where do you want this box?” I asked Dawn.  It was moving day for Dawn, out of my condo and into her own apartment, on her own with her kids.  It came just soon enough to save our friendship, which had been hanging on by the skin of its teeth for the last few weeks.  For now, I was grateful that she was going to find a time and place to just live on her own and figure out her place in the world.  She had never lived on her own before; my mother used to always say that women should always live on their own before committing to living with a partner of any sort.  She should have known; she went straight from her parents’ home to living with my father.

“Put it down there, in the dining area.  I think that might be the stuff for my table.”  Dawn was positively gleeful upon finding her new place.  True, it meant that she was getting what was colloquially known as “welfare” in the form of public housing payments to the landlord.  She’d been lucky enough to find a regular apartment complex in our area that reserved a certain number of units for public housing recipients; no one in the area would know she was one of them.  This would allow her to use the support money that Todd gave her to finish out her degree and pay for childcare while she did so, instead of having to abandon the whole thing in order to find a job to pay the bills.  I wondered, watching her as she moved into her place, what turns my life would have taken if I’d chosen that route instead.

‘It’s a great place, Dawn.  The area is really nice, the apartment is actually a decent size, and the school system is good, if you’re still here next year when A is ready for kindergarten.”

Dawn sat down for a minute to rest.  “I know.  I feel pretty lucky, all things considering.”

I didn’t ask about Todd.  I knew that they were speaking again, that he’d actually helped her choose her place, and that things were on a much better footing with him of late.  That being said, she was still moving into her place alone.  He’d stopped by with her one crucial piece of furniture from home:  their personal computer, to which she’d become addicted to at my home during the days when I’d been working.  I discovered when the credit card bill came that Dawn had racked up a seriously impressive number of hours “online”.  Back in those days, if you exceeded your monthly allotment of minutes (I want to say it was 180 minutes, but I honestly can’t remember), you paid…by the minute.

“So,” Dawn said, as she started pulling things out of the box I’d just set down, “How’s it going in the wild world of online dating?”

I chuckled.  I knew Dawn would appreciate the fact that I was now dating two men courtesy of my own time spent online.   One was R, with whom I’d shared a lovely first date with a few weeks back.  He had me follow him back to his apartment downtown; he shared a place downtown with a roommate.  The view was overlooking the Detroit River, and it was in a word, intoxicating.  However, I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t just dating R for all of his access to nice things.  So when a man named Tom started talking about all of the things we had in common, I agreed to go out with him as well.

“Well they are as different as could be.  Tom, for example, took me roller skating.  Blading, as a matter of fact.”  Roller blading was a hot, new trend.  The idea was that you were really on roller skates, but they were shaped more like ice skates…so you were gliding, so to speak.  It had been embarassingly hard.  “I can’t imagine R doing anything like that.  He doesn’t seem at all athletic.”

“Okay…what else?’ Dawn prompted.

“Well, Tom is not a college graduate.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.  He works in his family’s business.  They own a print shop not far from here.  R is a college graduate and clearly poised to climb as far up the corporate ladder as he can.  It’s a very curious dichotomy.”

“Uh huh…” she continued as she pulled out a napkin holder and salt and pepper shakers.

“Tom moonlights in a cover band at night while R used to be a DJ to earn extra cash while in school, and still does it sometimes when the local radio station needs a fill in guy.”

“That sounds more like a similarity than a difference.  Not surprised to hear though that they both have a music angle.”

I blushed.  “Yeah, I like that about both of them.”

“So what are you thinking?”

I paused, conjuring both of them up in my mind.  Both men were outside of my comfort zone, neither really physically “my type”.  I felt equally comfortable with both of them.  “Well, Tom is nicer than R.”

Dawn groaned.  “Ugh, the kiss of death.  You’ve already made your choice, right there.”

I rolled my eyes, but inside, I knew she was right.  I had a long history of dismissing nice boys who treated me well and going after the ones that weren’t nearly as nice to me.  “I am willing to push past it and see if something comes of it,” I answered evenly.

“We’ll see,” Dawn answered lightly, emptying the box and collapsing it.  “We’ll see.”

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