March 1

I, Natalie Taylor, have had the worst day of my life.

How did everything unravel into this unbelievable mess?!

It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way with Frankie. We’ve been on this roller coaster for almost a year now and I think I may possibly be going completely, clinically insane. And not in the love-daze, mad-about-you way. More in the I-may-soon-need-to-seek-professional-help way. Immediately.

It all came to an ugly head at that party I went to with Frankie at his buddy’s house in Westfield. I really hadn’t planned on going, but Frankie’s persistence wore me down, the way it always does. His buddy made junior partner in his law firm and was celebrating his promotion. Frankie didn’t want to disappoint him, so I told him that I’d go if we could just drop in and drop out. He agreed.

His friend was nice enough. The house was elegant. His girlfriend was some type of model. Super skinny, miles of long shiny hair, perfect teeth and nails and everything. Lots of people, high fashion, loud music, crowded dance floor, the works.

“Why aren’t you dancing?” Frankie’s friend is asking me.

“Oh, well, I mean I just got here…”

“Don’t you like dancing?”

“Yes, but…to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of this music.”

Frankie’s friend is looking at him with big confused eyes.

It’s his girlfriend who chimes in. “Wow. What a buzzkill.”

I slip away, and I’m in relative peace for about 15 minutes.

I’m always the buzzkill. This is probably because I’d usually rather go home and eat pizza and watch House Hunters International. Not that I could admit this to any of Frankie’s fashionable friends.

“Where’s Natalie?”

“I’m here.” Hoping to fade into the background.

“Come on, Frankie.” Someone yanks him away.

I try to disappear.

“You need to loosen up, girlfriennnn woooooohoo!”

I’m suddenly BFFs with, and receiving life advice from, some woman I’ve never seen before in my entire life.

“Ha! Thanks for the advice. I’ll tell my broker.”

She looks disgusted with me. “Man, what a buzzkill!”

That word again! Can everyone please not?

I guess I should have known better, but you know how things never dawn on you until you’re right in the middle of them? You’re thinking, this is not good, but I’ll be okay, and then things turn out worse than you imagined.

“Frankie?”

“Girlieeeee!”

BFF has been stalking me for half an hour. All I want to do is find Frankie and go home.

“Have you seen Frankie?”

“Nope girlieeee, let’s partyyyy!”

Let’s not.

And that’s when I realized that Frankie was gone, for who knows what reason, and I was stranded. No ride home.

“Mom, can you pick me up?”

Suddenly I feel like I’m 13 again, crying in the bathroom at Katie’s birthday party because all the girls were making fun of how I watch sports and never paint my nails and why am I so weird.

“I need a ride home.”

I didn’t have to explain. It’s a noisy ride home, and I’m telling her what happened and that Frankie pretty much bailed. Not that this has worsened my mother’s opinion of him. I know he tried at the beginning to put his best foot forward, the way everyone does because I’m a pastor’s daughter. The other foot has proved less impressive.

He called and apologized, and explained that he had passed out somewhere on a couch—wow, so attractive.

And yet somehow, my heart melts when I hear his voice and think about his eyes, and before I knew what in the world I was saying, I heard my own voice: “No problem, Frankie. Everything’s fine.”

Nothing is fine! But when he’s good to me, I can’t get over how amazing he makes me feel. Nobody has ever made me feel like this.

“I’ll make it up to you, Nat. I promise.”

“Okay Frankie.”

That’s what Frankie does to me. I don’t hear from him for a day or two and it burns me up inside. And then, he just has to laugh and everything is fine again.

How long, O Lord? He draws close and then pushes away. I don’t want to waste my life guessing, waiting, and hoping—hoping that Frankie will commit in some way.

I’ve always dreamed of visiting France, but meeting Frankie in college chased away all those dreams. He wanted me to stay, be near him. “Nat, I can’t imagine life without you. You can’t just leave me.”

So I’ve waited.

For nothing!

Now, I can’t wait to get out of this small, miserable town, and away from Frankie.

What I need is a new…something. A new life. A new scene. Something besides this daily…blah. Because that’s what my life is—boring. And when it’s not boring, it’s just confusing.

A new start. That’s what I need. A new start in a new place with endless possibilities. I’ll see the world, eat exotic foods, meet eccentric people, and wear really cute clothes.

I know exactly what I want to do.

I’ll see Paris! I’ll find a job with an international airline in San Francisco. Gwen lives there, and why have a sister in San Francisco if you can’t take advantage of her gorgeous Bay Area apartment? An exciting, adventurous life will await me, and I’ll live the glamorous existence most people only dream of living.

What could possibly go wrong?