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Fiction Happy Romance

Nobody tells you how hard it is to date in your late twenties.

Even harder yet, dating as someone who has uprooted themselves to begin again in a new and (supposedly) exciting place. 

To pack all of your belongings (mostly books in my case) in your 2004 Subaru Outback and drive halfway across the country to the city that shares its name with the state it belongs to. The concrete jungle where dreams are made of, according to Alicia Keys. The Big Apple. 

If you have not caught on by now, which I would be incredibly shocked if you hadn’t, I’m talking about New York.

They say if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere, but how did I get here, you ask? Or, maybe, you didn’t. Either way, I am going to tell you.

Almost a year ago I scored an unbelievably amazing opportunity with a work from home job that paid enough to move out of my parent’s house finally (I’m 28) and I wanted to move as far away as I could, so I did.

Don’t get me wrong, my parents are lovely people and they gave me a lovely childhood, but growing up in a town of less than 5,000 people makes you wonder. 

It strikes a curiosity of “what if” and “what else”. 

It fuels a desire to know more, do more, see more, be more. 

So I searched for jobs, scoured the world wide web for places to live, and jumped on the first opportunity that arose. This opportunity. 

Here I am, living on the 7th floor of an apartment complex built in 1918.

Sharing a living room, kitchen, and bathroom with 4 other people.

Sleeping in my own 100 sq foot room furnished with only a full sized bed, a nightstand, a rack of all my clothes, and a large stack of books (used for both entertainment and eclectic decoration) for the low monthly rent of $982. 

That’s a small price to pay to live in the Empire State if you ask me.

I worked my stay at home job in my little room from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday-Friday, but the rest of the time was mine to do whatever I pleased with it, and believe me, I did.

I drank up New York with an unquenchable thirst. 

I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the MOMA on the same day.

I had a solo picnic in Central Park and pretended I was in a movie the whole time as I threw little bits of bread at the birds.

I biked across the Brooklyn Bridge and jogged through Times Square.

I took a ferry to get a better look at the Statue of Liberty and watched the sunset at the top of the Empire State Building.

I tried several places in search of the tastiest bagel with cream cheese and lox.

I searched for the best slice of pizza (many will say it’s Rubirosa but I have grown partial to Lombardi’s) and was sure I would never get over the pure delight of putting a steaming hot piece of freshly made pie into my mouth.

I had done so much in so little time, but I had done it all alone.

Not that doing things alone isn’t all fine and dandy (I actually quite like being alone most of the time) but sharing special moments with special people was something you could not buy. 

My roommates were nice enough people but we all kept to ourselves and I was not interested in pursuing a friendship with any of them, let alone a romantic partnership.

So I had turned to other means to find that special someone.

Living in New York you see some weird things, which also makes you more confident to be a little bit more bold. 

I had taken it upon myself to create notes and had scattered them all over New York for some lucky lad to find (hopefully) and waited for the results to play out. 

I left them in the subway, slid them in between the pages of my favorite books in locally owned stores, on billboards in quaint coffee shops and on walls plastered in concert posters.

The notes all said the same thing:

“Your soulmate is waiting. This is your sign. Meet me at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in front of the Garden at Sainte-Adresse painting on Sunday at 12pm sharp. I’ll be wearing a yellow dress with white polka dots and a red beret.”

And as ridiculous as that sounds, I had followed through out of sheer faith that someone might actually appear next to me one Sunday as I admired one of my favorite paintings by my favorite artist yet again. 

I had shown up diligently for twelve weeks and waited patiently by the Monet painting for a solid hour understanding that life happens and not everyone may make it on time, but nobody had made it at all.

Today was Sunday number thirteen. 

I rolled out of bed and met the cold floor with my warm feet, a familiar wake up call these days as winter began to creep in and take fall’s place.

I did my usual morning routine.

I showered, brushed my teeth, put on the faintest amount of makeup and then pulled the yellow polka dot dress off the clothing rack.

Sliding into it for the thirteenth Sunday in a row, I zipped up the back and shrugged into a peacoat for an added layer of warmth against the chill. Grabbing my red beret and purse before heading out the door, I began my journey, one I now knew well.

I made my way to the subway, taking the 5 train to 86th street and walking three blocks west to Fifth Avenue. 

I entered the Museum, presented my membership card for entry, and headed straight for the painting.

It was 11:58 and I didn’t want to be late. I had never been late before.

I made my way to Gallery 818. Getting on the elevator I slowly ascended to floor 2. I checked my watch. It was 12 pm. I was officially late.

The light flashed the number 2 and the doors opened, spilling everyone out.

I quickly walked to my destination, peeling my peacoat off as I went.

I arrived at an empty painting at 12:04 pm.

My coat was folded over my arm. 

My beret was haphazardly resting on my head.

My yellow polka dot dress was screaming, “Look at me!” as I stood and looked at the painting that was now etched into my memory.

“Hello, friend,” I whispered to the artwork as I prepared to spend another hour in solitude admiring its beauty. 

I noted the ships in the distance and the faint clouds in the sky. I enjoyed the bright specks of color that signified flowers blooming amongst the greenery. I gazed at the ripples in the water wishing I was among them. Only a few minutes had passed.

“You’re late,” a voice to my right said. 

I whipped my head to see who had spoken and found a young man next to me. 

He was looking forward, a book clutched to his chest.

“Excuse me,” I stuttered.

“12 pm sharp. You were late.”

I continued to stare at him, he continued to stare straight ahead at the painting.

“And why this painting? What’s so special about this one specifically?”

He titled his head to the left, towards me as he studied the Monet.

“What do you mean?”

He turned and looked at me, a warmth in his eyes endearing me to him immediately. 

He held out the book, which I now recognized as my favorite, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

“I’ve always been a Jane Austen fan myself, but never once have I found something so exciting in one of her novels before as I did this one.” 

He pulled out a small note, my note that I had carefully placed inside the book, now his book, in the little shop in downtown Brooklyn.

I stared at him in disbelief, unsure if I had indeed woken up this morning and made the trek to this museum for the thirteenth Sunday in a row, or perhaps I was still asleep and this was all a figment of my imagination, a concoction of my mind.

“Gael.” He held out his other hand for me to shake.

“Amelia,” I replied.

“So, Amelia, tell me more about this painting and why we had to meet at this one.”

I gave a quick smile and began to tell him why Monet was my favorite artist.

As I stood before the Garden at Sainte-Adresse for the thirteenth Sunday in a row wearing my yellow polka dot dress and red beret next to Gael, my maybe soulmate, I couldn’t help but wonder, “what if” and “what now”.

March 22, 2024 01:16

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4 comments

Annie Hewitt
02:29 Apr 09, 2024

I love this story! So well written. So cohesive and just a lovely story of hope and positivity. This was very well done.

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Lauren Rice
08:17 Apr 16, 2024

Thank you so much for taking the time to read it :)

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Evan Jackson
02:36 Mar 28, 2024

I really enjoyed your story! 😊

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Lauren Rice
03:48 Apr 07, 2024

Thank you so much for reading it!

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