Chapter 7: Myra
Myra was excited to be getting out and doing things on her own with new people. She had been invited by Shanelle to a party at Piano’s bar on the Lower East Side. After a few weeks, Myra had given up on Shanelle. She had since hung out with Priya and Vic. Vic was difficult to pin down because she was always with her new girlfriend. Priya seemed to always be open to hanging out but Myra was sure loud venues were not for her.
After the subway ride to the Lower East Side from Brooklyn, Myra landed on Essex St. She walked to Fat Baby. Outside the bar, Shanelle was standing with tall, gorgeous black man. She assumed that was George.
“Hey!” Myra called out with cheerfulness. She was wearing a retro dress with a retro geometric red and white print.
Shanelle greeted her with a warm hug. “I love your dress! It’s so adorable.”
“Thanks, I sewed it myself,” Myra said twirling around.
“Myra, this is George,” Shanelle said.
Myra offered her hand and George took it. “Nice to meet you, “ they both said politely.
“He’s only here for a few minutes before he goes out for his boys night out,” Shanelle explained.
“We should go in,” George said walking to the door.
The crowd in the bar was already beginning to form. It was early; around 9:30. The music was
mostly top 40. The music was not to Myra’s taste but she really liked going with the flow. Their trio headed to the bar.
“What do you want?” George asked the two women.
“Do they have any Brooklyn Lager?” Myra asked.
George nodded looking a little confused. He looked at Shanelle and asked, “Cosmo?”
Shanelle smiled and said “Of course.”
George focused on getting the attention of the bartender.
“Are you a SATC fan?” Myra asked.
“Of course!” Shanelle said. “I’m a Charlotte.”
Myra put her head back and laughed. “My friends and I watched it in college to be ironic. But secretly I think we all liked it.”
“Which one are you?” Shanelle asked.
“Ugh…I’m a Carrie for sure,” Myra said.
They both laughed.
“Does that mean I’m Harry?” George asked Shanelle. “I had to watch every episode with her.”
They all laughed. George ordered their drinks.
“You’re a better looking Harry,” Shanelle said sweetly.
“I wish I had Harry’s money,” George said with a sigh.
“You’re getting there,” Shanelle said stroking his back.
Myra thought they looked like a perfect picture together. Shanelle wore a pink and white striped oxford fabric shirtdress on her curvy full figured frame accented with a tan leather belt. She looked every bit of a Charlotte. George wore a plaid button down shirt unbuttoned to the third button and tucked into slacks. His shoes were leather slip-ons. His fresh haircut was close to the scalp and his facial hair was neat. Everything about him was very precise. Myra thought he looked like a brown plastic Ken doll.
Around that time, the door opened and a tall, light brown haired white guy walked in. He immediately saw Shanelle and walked over to their group.
“Hey, Tom!” Shanelle said warmly with a smile. He hugged her.
She introduced everyone to her coworker. Myra thought he looked a bit preppy but in a very easy way. He wore boat shoes with his fitted ankle length dark khakis and a plaid shirt. He looked like he just stepped off of a yacht.
“Where is your girlfriend?” Myra said.
“Oh, she had a ladies night with her friends. I’m alone tonight,” Tom said.
“I know how that is. What are you drinking, Tom?” George asked.
“Just a Corona,” Tom answered.
“How was apple picking?” Shanelle asked. Myra noticed the smile Shanelle had was sort of giddy.
“It was okay. I mean it’s kind of silly. We picked out own fruit for god’s sake!” Tom said.
They all laughed. “It was nice to get out of the city though,” Tom continued.
“I haven’t been upstate yet,” Myra said jumping into the conversation.
“Maybe we should go apple picking. Or go for a hike at Bear Mountain” Shanelle said. “It’s the perfect time of year. We can invite Vic and Priya.”
“Yeah that sounds great!” Myra agreed.
George handed the Corona to Tom and signed his receipt.
“Thanks, man” Tom said to George.
“Shanelle, I’ll see you at home. Nice to meet you two,” George said. He gave Shanelle a peck on the cheek as to not get her lipstick on his face. He stepped through the crowd.
“How long have you been together?” Myra asked.
“Seven years,” Shanelle said without emotion.
“Nice guy,” Tom said with a nod.
“I’ve never gotten him to go apple picking,” Shanelle said with a knowing look at Tom.
Tom laughed “God, our office is an old boys club.”
Myra looked confused so they explained the story of the office conversation. They all got on the conversation of their awful work environments. Drinks were refreshed. At this point, Melinda walked over to them.
“Hey! I wasn’t sure if you showed up or not. This place got crowded pretty quickly. We are hanging out downstairs,” Melinda yelled over the music and buzzed voices.
They followed her to the room underneath to main bar. There was a dj, another bar and several people sitting in booths. The party had yet to get started in this section. There was a tiny dance floor. Melinda introduced everyone to her friends. Myra noticed that she and Shanelle were the only people of color in this crowd. She had gotten used to this in New York, but it was still odd in such a diverse city.
It was a great night with lots of booze, lots of conversation and everyone was in a great mood. Shanelle and Myra danced to a few songs. Tom joined in too.
It was seriously late and Myra had no money left for a cab back to Brooklyn. Her job may seem glamorous but the pay was low. She figured she would take the subway back. Hopefully the train wasn’t too slow.
“I think I should leave,” Myra told Shanelle and Tom.
“Are you taking a cab?” Shanelle asked.
“No, I’m taking the subway,” Myra said feeling embarrassed.
“Not this time of night!” Shanelle said, her soft southern accent appearing after all the cocktails she had that night. “You can come back to my apartment.”
“Oh no! I can’t do that!” Myra said.
“Yes, it’s fine. George won’t mind. I’d rather you’d be safe,” Shanelle said.
Myra had never experienced this sort of kindness in the city. She took Shanelle’s offer.
“I’ll share the cab with you two. I’m heading to Murray Hill,” Tom said.
“So fancy,” Myra said with a laugh. She felt close to him already.
“Aw well I would live in the Upper East Side, but I’m worried about my street cred,” Tom said with a laugh.
The three said their goodbyes to Melinda and her friends. They pressed through the crowd and out onto the street. Tom quickly hailed a cab which they filed into. Tom gave directions to the cab driver.
“Do you like living in Harlem?” Tom asked Shanelle after she mentioned her stop to the cab driver.
“I do, why?” Shanelle said.
“I was thinking about looking up there. My roommate situation is ending. He just got a residency at the Mayo Clinic. I want to move on my own but I can’t afford to in Murray Hill,” Tom said.
“Whoa Mayo Clinic,” Myra interjected.
“Yeah he was the best roommate anyone could have. He was never home. But now I want to live on my own because I doubt I’ll get that lucky again,” Tom said.
“What about living with your girlfriend?” Shanelle asked.
Tom sighed and toussled his hair. “It’s complicated with us. I have a feeling we’ve run our course.”
“Run your course?” Shanelle asked.
“I just don’t see a future with her. It’s not her fault. I just think there’s something about us that doesn’t fit,” Tom said. “It could be our backgrounds. Her background was solidly upper middle class. My family is excited about my copywriting job. I’m the most successful out of my siblings.”
Myra had no idea this guy was no rich kid.
Shanelle nodded, “I totally get it. George’s father is a judge and sometimes I feel like we are from two different worlds.”
“She wants to be more ambitious and make more money. It’s not that I’m not ambitious. My ambition level isn’t millionaire, it’s being comfortable. I was never comfortable growing up,”Tom said.
Myra asked, “When do you think you’ll end it?”
Tom kind of laughed to himself. “I don’t know. I still like being with her. It’s been a year though.”
The cab stopped. Tom paid, opened the door and stepped out. He said goodbye to his companions. Shanelle and Myra chatted about Tom’s situation. Myra was of the opinion that Tom should just rip the band-off quickly by ending the relationship soon. Shanelle thought he could work it out. They reached Shanelle’s apartment building at Lenox Towers in Harlem.
Myra was amazed by this luxurious building with a doorman and a roundabout driveway. Shanelle and George’s apartment was beautiful and well decorated. The style was luxurious with furry pillows, enameled tables and tasteful art.
“Whoa your place is beautiful!” Myra said. Most people she knew had Ikea mixed with secondhand furniture.
“George’s mother decorated for us when we moved here from Atlanta,” Shanelle said. “I like the style for the most part but I kind of wish I had a bit of my personality in it. She is definitely a Restoration Hardware person and I’m more of a West Elm or CB2 person. I need more color.”
Myra agreed looking around at the tasteful soft shades of beige and greys.
That night, Myra slept on the couch of their one bedroom apartment. In the morning, she woke to Shanelle cooking eggs, bacon and pancakes for everyone. Myra felt at home. The table was set with coffee, orange juice and creamer in a porcelain container. The napkins were cloth. Shanelle and George are true grownups, Myra thought.
George came in wearing a robe over a Morehouse t-shirt and shorts. He sat down at the their round dining table. He put the napkin in his lap. He greeted Myra with a “Good morning.” Myra rolled herself off the couch. She was wearing one of Shanelle’s Spelman college t-shirts and pajama shorts. Shanelle served everyone. Myra offered help but was shooed away by Shanelle.
George picked up his tablet and started reading a newspaper. Myra was amazed at his lack of attention to Shanelle. Shanelle sat down and started eating. She wore a pretty satin nightgown with lace edging that matched her satin robe. Myra admired her attention to detail.
“When should we go apple picking?” Myra asked.
“I think I have next weekend open,” Shanelle said thinking about it.
George cleared his throat and without looking up from his iPad said, “I think we have a party to go that Saturday.”
“Do I need to be there?” Shanelle said “Besides apple picking is during the day.”
“Florida A&M plays South Carolina State,” he said. He checked the calendar on his iPad. “Its at 10:30 pm. It’s kind of late.”
“I don’t need to be there,” Shanelle answered back. “You know that I hate football.”
“Okay, but who will Dani talk to?” George asked.
Shanelle sighed. “Dani will have all the other women there to talk to.”
George looked up from his iPad. He was visibly irritated. “But you need to be there because we are a team.”
Shanelle took a deep breath to compose herself. She was also upset. Myra felt awkward because she was seeing such a private moment.
“I never get to do anything by myself. I would like to go apple picking this month. The weekend after is your parent’s anniversary weekend and then after that it’s Howard Homecoming,” Shanelle said.
“Well, I guess you don’t have to be there next Saturday,” George said sighing. He went back to his iPad.
Trying to break through the heaviness in the room, Myra said, “I’ll text Priya and Vic.”