How You Get the Girl
In a hotel room in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh Marissa’s alarm goes off, sliding her finger across her phone screen to shut it off she jumps from the uncomfortable mattress realizing she set it for the wrong time. If she wasn’t out of the door in 20 minutes she was going to be late for work. She quickly grabs clothes from her suitcase and ties her hair up to make it look at least halfway presentable. In 10 minutes she’s in the dining room filling her travel mug with what will probably be the regret of her morning, hotel coffee, before heading out the lobby doors.
On the drive in she haphazardly applies enough makeup to at least make her look awake. She pulls into her spot wiping her foundation off her hands with a makeup wipe and heads for the building a terrible coffee the size of her head in one hand, laptop in the other and a wrinkled skirt that she was regretting not hanging 2 days prior. She makes it to her desk only 5 minutes later than normal, but still earns weird looks from her coworkers.
“I woke up late” she says with a wistful smile and her colleague Cassie laughs
“Every time Brandon goes on a road trip you’re late, do you know how to set an alarm?” she asks and Marissa just shrugs and laughs it off.
She can’t possibly tell people she’s works friends with that she’s been at a hotel for 2 days, that it wouldn’t matter if Brandon was on a road trip or not. She definitely could not tell that to the 3 women she worked most closely with and why not? Simple, she wrote an extensive advice column with these three ladies and out of the four of them she was the one in charge of relationships; there was no way she was telling them hers was in danger! No way was she giving them that kind of ammo, sure they worked together in the same department but her job was really the sought after one, I mean honestly who really wanted to answer questions all day on how to properly garden, clean, cook, repair stuff or whatever else Cassie, Morgan and Harriet answered.
Out of all of them Harriet probably wanted Marissa’s job the least, she was maybe 5 years from retirement and was the ‘decorating guru’ giving tablescape and guest room advice to maybe 7 people a week, her busiest time of year was the holidays, Marissa was swamped year round. While the paper she worked for would only publish a few of her letters a week in interest of keeping the paper well rounded but light she still had to answer every question that came to her inbox. Sometimes it would take her days to answer one person, and the job sometimes left her feeling emotionally exhausted trying to untangle massive webs of distrust and hostility from only one persons’ distraught point of view.
But, she couldn’t complain she loved at least trying to help people, she picks up her travel mug taking a large drink of coffee and pretending like she likes it before opening her laptop and turning it on. Once it boots up she plugs it in and opens her e-mail deeming it time to lose herself in her work instead of dwelling on the argument with Brandon. Of course that had been what their argument was about, but who was he to tell her she worked too much and saw him too little when he traveled all over the US and Canada playing hockey! She pushes the thought from her head and opens the first email in her inbox
A few months ago the love of my life and I ended our 5 year relationship. It came on the heels of a very bad Fourth of July family picnic in which 3 family members ended up in the emergency room from various ailments including a bee sting, 2nd degree burn on the hand and broken glass stuck in the foot.To make a long story short I was going to purpose at the party with all of our family there but under the circumstances I didn’t. It was a couple of days later when talking about our future that my girlfriend ended up leaving me.
Since then, miserable has not been the word for my mood. It’s been 6 months, I haven’t spoken to her or any of her family I’m terrified she’ll move on if I don’t act. But I don’t know how to even start the conversation. This house, this bed this life is too empty without her here.
Signed, Sleepless in Seattle
Marissa reads over the letter a couple of times before hitting the reply button, cracking her knuckles she begins to type back:
Judging by your signature you’re either a hopeless romantic, or an insomnia sufferer. I chose to go with the first option based on the problem you’ve brought up.
The way I see it you’ve got a couple options, one being you can do nothing and lose the love of your life, which I’m hoping is not the option you go with, if she really is the love of your life then you have to act. Since you apparently can’t sleep anyway, and/or are a romantic in hiding just show up wherever she’s staying, in the middle of the night, in the pouring rain, in the snow, wind whatever the conditions are show up.
Making it at night ensures that when she opens the door the first thing she’s going to say is your name, and it’s probably going to fall out of her mouth in a surprised whisper.The next thing she’s most likely going to say (especially if you’re standing outside in the rain) is “What are you doing here? Are you insane?”
At this point Sleepless, you need to spill your guts, this is the woman you love and you desperately want her back right? So tell her that, tell her that the last 6 months has felt like a million years, or that you miss one of her little quirks she most likely thinks is annoying (if it’s snoring don’t mention it) say something to get the ball rolling, something that will make her blush. Then tell her the truth say everything you didn’t say in July. This could be your only shot you don’t want to blow it!
Good Luck, Annie
Re-reading it a few times Marissa checks for spelling errors and makes a few changes to her phrasing and spacing before sending the letter back. She spends her morning answering a weekend full of romance questions and by the time she looks up from the screen it’s already noon and her stomach is growling empty still from the breakfast she never ate.She excuses herself from her work area asking the other 3 if they want anything from the coffee shop down the street; she takes their requests and heads towards the elevators. She returns shortly later with coffee’s and bagels sandwiches and baked goods for her department.
After handing each person their requested food she sits back down at her desk unfolding the paper around her sandwich as she logs back into her computer. She plugs the device in and waits for her internet to log into her work email while taking a bite from her sandwich. She almost groans when she sees the 5 new emails on top of the still 15 she hadn’t answered before leaving.
It’s almost 8pm when she gets to the last email, just about everyone else has left the floor for the paper except a few busy editors re-checking the edition to run the following morning and adding any breaking news that happened that was noteworthy. Marissa sighs about to close her laptop when another email pops up this title catching her eye “Pitiful in Pittsburgh” although she worked for a local paper so it was almost obvious that all her emails came from around the city rarely anyone ever actually had the city in their subject line so it was intriguing.
Despite her being tired and starving she figured a few more minutes at work wouldn’t be so bad, it wasn’t like she had to go home to anyone besides a hotel bed. She opens the email rubs her eyes and starts reading.
I can’t say I would ever have thought I would be willing to take advice from a complete stranger, but I’m desperate. I have been with my lovely girlfriend for a couple of years now, we both have hectic schedules and our mutual understanding of them has been what’s gotten us this far.
Recently, I screwed up and now we’ve not exactly been on speaking terms and I feel horrible. I never meant the things I said to her and I don’t even begin to know how to fix it. I’m hoping that since she loves your column that maybe either this letter will get published and she will see it know it’s me and finally speak to me again, or that at least your advice will help me get my foot in the door.
I already know I’m stubborn and bullheaded, but I also hope I’m not left hanging out to dry all because I got a little jealous. I just want her to know that I miss her, and that I love her, and that I’m sorry I got so bent out of shape about schedules.
Sincerely, Pitiful in Pittsburgh
Dear PiP (I can’t possibly bring myself to call you pitiful),
When it comes to arguments and misunderstandings within a relationship the main solution I always go back to is fairly simple; first remind yourself why you love her so much, maybe it’s the way she smiles, once you’ve thought of that remind yourself of what in your relationship brought you both joy, maybe a picnic in the park or a day spent lounging on the couch.
Now PiP here comes the hard part. Remind her, do something romantic, it doesn’t have to be extravagant, maybe just a good morning text to tell her you’re thinking of her, or sending her flowers. Somewhere in your relationship you’ve both forgotten that in order to maintain a relationship you have to put as much work into it as you both obviously put into your careers. Set a date night, even if one of you happens to be out of town, keep that day your date night, have a skype date.
Tell her you want to work on wherever your relationship has fallen short. If it’s meant to be I promise you will both figure it out. But it starts with one of you taking the initiative and since you’ve contacted me PiP, it’s going to be you. Tell her you want her forever; that even though maybe you broke her heart -or she broke yours- you’ll be the one –or her where applicable- to put it back together. Tell her the truth, because it’s what you both need to hear. Good luck PiP.
Marissa stretches her fingers and neck before hitting send on the email and looking at the time, it was now almost 10pm and she was beyond exhausted. She crossed her fingers for that last letter, it just felt so personal with what was going on with her and Brandon, she really was pulling for the guy. With a yawn she shuts down her computer and heads out of the building back to the hotel.
He knew he shouldn’t have waited so long to send that email, but he had to see for himself that she’d really left him. Brandon paced the kitchen waiting for one of the devices in front of him to signal a new email, it had been 15 minutes since he’d sent it, how long did she really take to answer?
One thing for sure, this waiting was giving him time to play that argument over in his head. There was an event that night that the WAG’s were throwing and Marissa was supposed to be there to show her support for the organization, the other wives and girlfriends and, him, somehow she’d gotten tied up at work and missed the whole thing. By the time she’d walked through the front door he was already past pissed. Marissa didn’t even have time to breathe before Brandon started questioning her about her whereabouts. She said she had a meeting, something she had told him about weeks ago and it ended up lasting longer than it was supposed to because they’d been interrupted by the news of a large fire on the other side of the city.
By the time the paper sorted out who was going to be the lead journalist on the story, and sent the guy out, the report over the scanner was that the fire was almost under control, and seemed to be an accident. Nothing interesting was going to be happening there and they’d spent almost a half an hour deciding which action journalist was going. Brandon didn’t want to hear it though, he’d already started on his rant of Marissa letting him down. This escalated when she reminded him that it wasn’t her schedule that was keeping them from visiting family over Christmas this year.
As he was getting ready to storm out of the door saying he’d stay at a hotel for the night before leaving for 2 games, Marissa was in tears, and a glass vase was broken. She’d thrown it against the wall after he’d called her a psycho bitch, which proceeded to fuel the fire that she was indeed unhinged.
But as soon as he walked into that silent hotel room he felt the weight of his words on his heart. He plugged his phone in and noticed a text from her saying she’d be gone when he got home, and his heart sank more. How could he possibly let her schedule get between them when she’d never let his? He ran a hand through his hair standing in the kitchen staring at devices in front of him, hoping it wasn’t too late.
Part of him hoped she’d read the email, realize it was him and call him immediately. But another part hopped she didn’t figure it out and would answer him back giving him the advice he needed, Brandon always admired how she wrote from the heart and would really consider the situation before giving an answer, but now it had been an hour, maybe she’d left for the night before reading his email. A ding from his laptop signals new mail and reads the words she wrote not knowing it was her own boyfriend she was giving the answer to. With a smile he begins his search.
Marissa was determined to leave work on time today, after spending more time at the office the past couple of days. She shuts down her computer early and makes small talk with those around her. She makes her way out of the building and to her car quickly and heads towards her hotel. She rides the elevator up to her floor tapping her finger on her bag to the soft beat of the jazzy elevator music. When she opens the door to her room turning on the light her jaw drops at the site of the vases of flowers covering her room.
She drops her bag and leans over to smell the first bunch, she smiles and begins the search for a card to tell her who the sender is. As she makes her way through the multiple vases coming up with no card each time she gets confused before seeing a box sitting on the bed. A simple note scrawled across the top ‘get dressed see you at 7’ she’d notice that handwriting anywhere “Brandon” she breathes out opening the box revealing a beautiful navy dress and silver heels.
She gets ready as quickly as possible and makes her way to the elevator at 6:59, on the way down she tries to resist her urge to bite her nails, what if she’s wrong what if it’s not Brandon? As the floors slowly descend she debates getting off on a different floor and just going back to her room but before she can change her mind the doors open on the ground floor. She holds her breath and looks around, Brandon is nowhere to be seen but neither is a strange man staring at the doors of the elevator. She’s about to turn for the elevator again when the doors to the lobby slide open and Brandon walks in handsome as ever in a gray suit with a simple forest green tie
“How did you know I was here?” she asks quietly when he gets close enough
“Simple you love this hotel, you always say how pretty it is every time we drive by” he says and she smiles up at him shyly “I’m sorry” he says in a low voice
“Me too” she says the sound coming out like a hiccup
“Marissa, I should have never gotten so bent out of shape about your schedule I know how important your job is to you and I know how much you enjoy it, that wasn’t fair of me. You put up with me being gone so much and you never complain and I’m so sorry sweetheart. I know we both have our issues, and I want to work on them. I want to spend forever with you, I don’t care what we have to do I’m willing to do it. We’ll do skype dates or we’ll facetime while I’m away, and we’ll set aside time to just be us. Just please don’t leave me”
“Pitiful in Pittsburgh?” she says with wide watery eyes and he nods running a nervous hand through his hair “Ladies and gentlemen that’s how it works” she says in a breathy tone
“How what works?” he asks confusion written in his features
“That’s how you get the girl” she says closing the small gap between them and he kisses her gently holding her tight.
Song: How You Get the girl- Taylor Swift
Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, or whatever you celebrate.