Carmel By the Sea: On A Whim
Joel never bothered turning the lights on in his apartment anymore. H e had read somewhere that working with them on tricked the mind into thinking it was earlier than it really was and threw off the body's circadian rhythm. Leaving them off while he worked through the night had been his attempt to regulate just how much time he spent working. Months had gone by, but he refused to admit that it had been a failed experiment. There were always more papers to grade, more topics of discussion to ready, more studies about the effectiveness of homework and project-based learning to read through. There was always more. Except when there wasn't. Which he couldn't stand, because when the work dried up he was left with nothing but his thoughts and bad decisions to keep him company, and they made terrible guests. He didn't want to think about Cynthia. He didn't want to think about Emily. He didn't want to think about any of the one-night stands- even the ones he actually had a conversation with. He didn't want to think. So he poured what was left of a bottle of Pinnacle into a can of Mountain Dew and found himself browsing old Youtube clips of animes he used to watch. Then he was watching portions of video game playthroughs. Followed by a slew of fake prank videos and then, at last, he came to the weird part of the site that links people to movie sex scenes and scantily clad models. Seeing that in this case, all roads led to PornHub, Joel decided to check his e-mail. A certain Greenday lyric about masturbation came to mind as he scrolled through his mailbox. God, did he hate not having people in his life.
He found himself on Facebook soon after. Scrolling through a feed of old friends who hadn't spoken to him in person since Cynth- for some time now. Joel wasn't an idiot; he knew that the smiling images and the pictures of lavish dinners and the constant string of happy couples with cheesy lovey-dovey hamming it up for the audience displays of attention whoring affection were all an illusion. That social media was popular because it allowed people to present the best possible versions of themselves, their lives, and their significant others. But God, did he hate not having what these people had. What did they have? He asked himself. A support group. A social life not limited to drinking alone in crummy bars and helping strangers get back at their exes. A family.
All his friends had been Cynth- HER friends. All save Emily, and she didn't want to talk to him right now. And he refused to speak to his father or sister, and doubted they would be cordial with him anyway. He lit a Clove and blew a smoke ring at the screen. If only he could hurt the pixels the way they were hurting him right now. Should he post something? A quote? A cry for help? Another cat video? Sure. No one ever assumed anything of you if you posted cat videos. He clicked the Home button, but never posted anything. Something had caught his eye. Rather, someone.
A woman's portrait was listed under the words "people you may know". He couldn't tell if her hair was short or long, just that it was slightly styled and pulled back for a more professional look. Her oval face and soft cheekbones accentuated the intensity of her deep-set eyes. Joel didn't know much about makeup but he guessed that she had to have used something to give her that smoldering look. A salmon-colored button down, which did its best to match the color of her lipstick, and a charcoal grey suit jacket cinched the business chic look.
Remee Galeano. He recognized her almost immediately and stared at the image for the better part of three minutes. He couldn't decide if she was a model or actually in the business sector. Then he couldn't decide which intimidated him more. It had to have been at least ten years since they'd seen each other. Towards the end of high school, he thought.
Just send her a friend request. The worse that'll happen is she'll say no. Or leave him in limbo. But what were the odds of that? What were the odds of her remembering him? Should he send a message WITH the request, or was that too Beta? The last thing he wanted was for her to think he had somehow lost his spine in the last decade. What time was it? Late. Past midnight. Wouldn't sending a request at this time of night give away the fact that he was bored and lonely? Fuck. Okay. Well... Yea, just do it. Just do it. Just. Fuck. Alright. Alright, alright, alright.
His fingers traced along the mouse pad, and before he could stop himself, he had tapped it twice.
Friend Request Sent.