It was only three seconds into the rain. Five seconds tops. But I was drained enough to know that a serious cold was gonna reign over me for the night. My modest Burger King dinner had been soaked with acid-saturated water, the soda in my drink had most definitely run out, and I was simply out of budget to the extent that I couldn’t afford to buy another dinner.
Fine! I thought in anger as I dropped the brown paperbag into the nearest garbage, No dinner for me tonight!
The way back to the studio was paved with bad luck. Getting nearly run-over by a speeding limo, getting showered with filthy pond-water by another speeding limo, getting bumped into by one of those female-New York skyscrapers; all were the least of my worries. My mind almost exploded with rage upon realizing that I’ve forgotten my apartment keys with him. Why would I ever trust him with my belongings? God, why!
A fine swerve back to the Mannhattan streets in order to kill time until it’s 01:00 am; when Shaymaa was due to return from her Linguistics course. God, why does she have to attend it at the other end of the city! I wailed like a spoilt child as I soon came to the realization that all those brilliant shops were gradually closing down, except of course for the shitty yet 24/7-open McDonalds. In a matter of minutes, I would find nowhere to kill the slightly-minus-two-hours I have until Shaymaa is finally back at the studio. With her keys. And the rest of the girls couldn’t have picked a better time for clubbing other than tonight?
All the negative thoughts of being a pathetic loser were sure to jump into my mind, especially after going through my facebook newsfeed till it would no longer refresh and looking at my watch to find that it was still quarter past twelve.
“This is it!” I almost told myself out loud in the middle of McDonald’s. “I’m not sitting it out any longer. I’ll just go back to the studio and I don’t care if I have to sleep out the front door.”
Determined to go forward with my plan, I left as some newly-entering black guy started making trouble with the waiters; trouble serious enough to distract their attention from the fact that I had stayed for over an hour without making a single order.
Broke as I was, I had to make my way back to Union Square on foot. The good thing was that the rain had ceased, but not after it had turned me to a madman-look-alike; curling my hair Gorilla-style.
As I walked past streets which have soon become familiar, I wondered about how face-value New York is. Just a week ago, I was taking my first-late-night-stroll round the city alone, marveling at the magic within. Now, it all just looked quite mediocre; as if I’ve been born and raised here. Even a distant shadow of the Empire State Building couldn’t reverse my negative thoughts.
When Union Square was finally within sight, I quickened my pace; longing for the warmth of the indoor arena. I’ve never been half as cold back in Egypt. Or as hungry. Or as tired. God! Why do we waste our money and energy to come pursue a post-graduate degree here, knowing it wouldn’t make a difference back home in twenty-years’ time?
It wasn’t a moment when I could face myself with all the bonuses a masters from the University of New York would grant me. I could only grasp the negatives at the moment. And a major negative I’ve been meaning to avoid all day long was that stupid Central Park trip I agreed to take with him. Yet, the crescendo my night had reached as a consequence of that doomed trip had me come face to face with how stupid of a decision it was for me to get myself into a relationship so soon over here.
Wiping some moist off my brow, oblivious as to whether it was some remnant of the rain or a few drops of sweat encouraged by my late-night jog or perhaps sudden exasperation at his remembrance, I made it into the building.
If only I hadn’t ended today on such bad terms with him, I would’ve been able to hit his home and grab those sorrowful studio keys. I thought in heartbreak. But whoever said I would find him home? He’s probably out fooling around with some slut like the one who started hitting on him in the park! Or maybe even with the very same slut!
A deep breath; I had promised myself not to dwell over spilled milk. The elevator took forever to arrive, as usual. But once I made it to the corridor of our 13th floor, the old feeling of sheer excitement of being in New York all on my own, to break-through my own path and become my own dream began to take over me once again.
As I got closer to the door, I could hear some broken sobs quietly ruling over some soothing female voice. Out of the dark, I could finally make out the figure of Nermeen bent down to pat Suzan’s back.
“What’s wrong?” I asked the girls in shock, predicting in less than an instant all the numerous reasons which would make them leave a clubbing night so early, relatively speaking.
“Nothing.” Nermeen blurted out abruptly, instantly delivering the message that whatever was wrong was a matter enclosed only between the two of them. A not very wild guess pointed a steady finger at Fady; that nice friend of Asser Suzan had been going out with for the past week. Already Nadia had once pointed out that there might be something going on between them.
“Don’t you have your key?” Nermeen asked in a tone which might’ve suggested she was going through some sort of frenzy at first glance.
“I forgot it with Asser. You?”
“Both Suzan and I have left it inside, counting on you guys to let us in.” Some disappointed sigh. “Shaymaa?”
“She’s not expected until …” a quick glance at my watch, “at least 20 minutes from now.”
“And Nadia’s sleeping out tonight, isn’t she?”
I sedately nodded. What an awkward awkward situation! I thought, almost stamping my foot with frustration. A fine observation was that Suzan’s suppressed sobs had now entirely dried out. It encouraged me to take a seat right next to them in front of the door, our backs leaning on the wall with at least one leg slightly bent.
“Cough drops?” Suzan offered, passing over a large package she’d been enclosing during the sobbing session.
“What the hell?” I was very curious to know why one would make such an offer to kill time. “I don’t have a cold … as of yet.”
“It’s not for a cold; it’s like some nice candy.”
“What the hell?” I repeated again with a condescending face.
Suzan declined the offer. I soon closed my eyes, dosing off into some quick sleep. The park was as far as where my dreams could take me; Asser swinging me in full force. I woke up at Shaymaa’s soft murmer, calling me up as she slowly turned the key into the door. Once inside, I immediately landed on my precious fold-out couch; my bed for the past week. Too tired to even extract the bed out of it or change into my PJs, I slept marinated in the filthy rain and my smelly sweat. This time, all I could dream of was the cold I was slowly baking inside my body and the consequences it would have on my attendance sheet for the next week or so.
Damn you, Asser.