105/366 – Conversational Practice

“Erin broke up with me last night,” Jamie said, grabbing the Xbox controller from the table.
“You okay?” Tristen asked, pausing his game. “You two had been together for a while. What? Like two years?”
“She said that I needed to mature and had to reevaluate my life and my choices. At one point, she said that I had the emotional depth of a four-year-old,” Jamie said, shrugging, “Whatever that means.”
“Ouch, that must’ve hurt,” Tristen said.
“I mean, I’m sad about it, but it is what it is. It’s not like I can make her be my girlfriend. I just thought we were in a good spot with everything, and then she blindsided me with that,” Jamie said.
“I don’t know if it was that much of a blindside,” Tristen replied.
“What do you mean?” Jamie asked.
“Well, we’re almost twenty, we’ve been out of school for almost two years, and you haven’t even found a job yet,” Tristen replied.
“You work for your dad’s company. It’s not like you had to look hard. I’ve tried, I just don’t want to work at a fast-food joint or something making minimum wage,” Jamie said. “Besides, it’s not like we have bills. Erin still lives at home too.”
“Yeah, but you spend your time between here when I’m home, and Erin’s work normally. I think she may have a point. Maybe you should consider going back to school and getting a degree,” Tristen suggested.
“Fuck that shit,” Jamie said. “That’s pushing things a little too far. Even if I went to school and got a degree, I’d spend the ten years following school paying off the loans. I wouldn’t be any better off than I am right now. No. I need to find a way to make money that doesn’t involve flipping burgers, or sitting in a cubicle while my paycheck is sapped away from me paying back my debt.”
“I don’t know that there is a third option, Jamie,” Tristen said. “Have you thought of one?”
“I could make art. Every month they do the artist street gallery in the city. I could sell my stuff there,” Jamie said.
“I didn’t want to be the one to tell you this, but you’re not a great artist,” Tristen said. “Any back-up if that doesn’t work?”
“I don’t know, man,” Jamie said, dropping onto the couch. “I’ve applied to be a game tester online. I’ve applied pretty much everywhere locally, that isn’t fast food. People just don’t want to hire me.”
“Want me to talk to my dad?” Tristen asked.
“No, that would be asking a big favor from both of you. I’m sure I’ll find something. My mother doesn’t seem to mind me around. I take care of all the maintenance around the house and the yard. So I’ve got that going for me, but it would be nice to be able to afford a car and travel a bit,” Jamie said, putting the controller back on the table. “Why does life have to be so complicated?”
“It’s not complicated, Jamie, it’s how the system is rigged. We were fucked from the start. The trick is to push hard enough to get ahead of it,” Tristen said. “I know I work for my dad, but he doesn’t pay me any better than he does anyone else in the yard. I don’t think it would be any different for you. He has mentioned that work would start increasing in the next couple of weeks with the ground thawing.”
“Alright, as long as your dad needs help. I’m not looking for a handout or a leg up or anything. I just have standards, you know?” Jamie said.
*****
“Do you think it was unfair?” Erin asked Lily as she turned the closed sign on the door to the juice shop. “I mean, Jamie’s sweet and all, but he just seems to lack any motivation. And I don’t think it bothers him that his mother is supporting him entirely.”
“Isn’t it just him and his mom, though?” Lily asked.
“Yeah, his brother and sister moved out a few years back, and now it’s just the two of them in that big house,” Erin said, locking the door. “I feel kind of bad like maybe I shouldn’t have broken up with him, but I’m twenty-one now. I’m working for my bachelor’s in early childhood education, and I’m working full time. He just stays home, goes to Tristen’s, and comes here.”
“I’ve heard him talk about work before. He’s told you that you’re better than working here too. The guy has standards. That’s not all bad,” Lily replied as she opened the register and pulled the drawer out. “Bradley doesn’t have standards like that.”
“Bradley at least works though,” Erin said.
“At the Burger Joint,” Lily said. “He gets maybe three-twenty-five a week if he’s lucky. He’s always tired, and he hates his job. What’s worse?”
“I don’t know,” Erin shrugged. “Don’t you see a difference?”
“I think having a happy partner-in-crime is more important that one that barely brings home anything. A few hundred dollars a week definitely helps, but we have an apartment and bills. You two both live at home and don’t actually have to work,” Lily said. “I don’t want to be that girl, but I think that you may have been a little unfair to him.”
“What about the future, though?” Erin asked. “What about when I want to get married or have kids? I need someone that can be more stable than that. I can’t afford much on a teacher’s salary in addition to my student loans.”
“Maybe that’s not a bad thing,” Lily said.
“What do you mean?”
“Jamie lives in a big house, with only two people in it. Maybe you could move in there with him, and work locally. Maybe he knows something you don’t,” Lily said, “You punch out and head home. I can finish closing up.”
“Maybe you’re right. Mrs. Knight is such a nice woman. She works and travels a lot now, so she’s barely home,” Erin said.
“I think you should text him,” Lily said. “Like sooner rather than later. Maybe have a talk with him about how your feeling. I know you tend to keep things bottled up. My parents have been together for thirty-five years, and they said that communication is key. Well, that and actively threatening each other’s lives, but I think they were kidding.”
Erin nodded. “I’ll think about it. I’ve got a load of homework to get done tonight.”
“Can I ask you one more thing?” Lily said.
“Of course,” Erin replied.
“I know this is personal, but have you two even,” she paused and made a suggestive hand gesture.
“No,” Erin said. “Why?”
“You are both in your twenties, you’ve been together for almost two years, and haven’t had sex? Is there something wrong with him, or you?” Lily asked.
“No, we talked about it early on. I didn’t want to jump into it, and he never pressures me about it,” Erin said.
“I think you may have just cut the line on a keeper, lady. You may want to forgo the homework for a minute to talk to him. If he isn’t pressuring you about sex at your ages, he’s either gay or a unicorn,” Lily said, disappearing into the back room.

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