Just checking in with a little info on some upcoming site changes.
Hey, y’all! I know I’ve been a little quiet this month, but it’s because I’ve been working hard (maybe a little too hard) behind the scenes on new content and other improvements for the site.
What improvements you ask?
Well, I’ve partnered with a network for bloggers who will manage the ads and everything you’re used to seeing on the site.
What does that mean and why did I dedicate an entire post to it?
It means that the way you view ads here will change.
Usually, for story posts, I try to limit the number of ads that are shown, and place them in the sidebar and toward the very bottom of the page. With the new changes, they’ll appear throughout the post (just like they do in my mod recommendation and tutorial posts) instead of their usual placements. Maybe we can treat them like commercial breaks?
I’ve held off on partnering with any networks (rules are a little different regarding ads than they are with Adsense and WordAds–my current providers) for the longest time because I want your time here to be as enjoyable as possible, especially when it comes to the content I’m passionate about–my story; and while that’s still my number one priority, I want to accept this opportunity that’s been presented to me, so I can earn a little cash for the work I do here (and have the site finally pay for itself).
I’ve gone back on forth on this so many times, because I do not want to disappoint y’all, so I’m hoping— No. I know y’all will be cool with this because y’all are amazing and supportive and I love y’all ♥
Yes! I’ll be going through all my older articles (I’ve already started!) and cleaning them up. I’ve changed themes a few times over the years, so the formatting is a little off on some of them; and with all the new mods we’re constantly being blessed with, older ones could use a few updates.
There are some slight grammar/punctuation issues with the earlier episodes of Camilla’s story too that are starting to get on my nerves, so I’ll be cleaning those up as well.
I’m almost done with my newest mod recommendation post, Must-Have Mods for City Living (a request from one of my readers with perfect timing because I have plans to do one for every pack), so keep an eye out for that sometime early next month.
For readers of Camilla’s story, I’m done writing the next episode, so I just need to get the build, poses, and wardrobe together so I can start shooting. I hope to have it out sometime this week. Now, would be the perfect time to catch up if you need to!
Speaking of Camilla’s story, WordPress has this new feature that allows you to add podcast-style audio to posts. So, I was thinking of maybe, possibly making an audio book style version of the story. It would be narrated by me (y’all have no idea what I sound like so that may or may not be appealing, lol) and accompany each episode for those who like to read on-the-go. I would really love to know what y’all think about this, so can y’all help me out by answering this poll?
In my downtime, I’ve been posting unedited photos of one of my many random gameplays with Camilla, this one taking place in Tartosa, on Tumblr so check it out if you’d like to see Camilla get into gameplay shenanigans.
And I think that’s it. At home, we’re nearing the end of the school year, so once the summer months roll in, I should, hopefully, have a little more free-time to post, and I’m looking forward to it.
As always, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe, so you stay up-to-date with everything happening over here!
During one of my more recent CC shopping sprees, I stumbled across this hair and this outfit, and just knew I had to get Camilla in it.
During one of my more recent CC shopping sprees, I stumbled across this hair and this outfit, and just knew I had to get Camilla in it. Now, her style is nothing like this. I would actually categorize it more as ‘cute’ than ‘sexy’, but I figured she wouldn’t mind making an exception for a little photoshoot.
If you’re interested in the items pictured in this post, check out the links below:
It took a minute, but eventually, my dad got my mom’s attention off my cleaning habits, and onto one of the few things she loved more than ridiculing me—food. And I don’t mean your regular cheeseburgers-and-fries type food, but actual cuisine; like the type you’d get at a five-star restaurant. That was her thing, and the success of her highly rated catering business proved just how good she was at it.
So when my dad suggested we go out to eat, and I recommended a restaurant with a menu even she would approve of, I figured it would change her tone, at least a little. But what I didn’t see coming was this decision, providing the perfect ammo for a new round of attacks.
I sat in the booth across from them; my phone underneath the table, scrolling through an afternoon’s worth of unread notifications. They were busy still, looking over the menu, discussing drink options and appetizers, so I used this little moment of freedom to check my texts.
There were two, delivered just a few minutes apart. The first was from Salim; a gif of a dancing panda with the words ‘good luck’ floating above its head. Aww. I love pandas. The second was from Amir; saying he has something for me. Ooh. I love surprises.
I replied to them both; a gif of two pandas hugging for Salim, and a short but sweet ‘can’t wait’ to Amir.
We placed our orders with the waiter and by the time he reached the table behind us, that attack I mentioned had already commenced.
“You eat here often, Cami?” My mom asked.
I put my phone away. “Oh… yeah.” I nodded. “They have really good seafood.”
“I’m surprised to hear that,” she replied sarcastically. “I thought for sure you were living exclusively off of chips, Hot Pockets, and grape soda.”
Orange soda. I don’t even like grape soda like that.
“Hold on, now.” My dad chimed in. “There’s nothing wrong with Hot Pockets. You know how much I love the steak and cheddar.”
Steak and cheddar’s the best.
He winked in my direction, but the small gesture meant to signify our alliance caught her attention.
She narrowed her eyes at him. The most she ever does when he dares to disagree with her.
I wish that was all I got.
“There is something wrong with it, James, when that’s all you consume.”
Her concern for my eating habits was a newer issue that started when I was in college. I was home for the holidays, and for lunch, instead of making something she would have, like some fancy French sandwich, I microwaved a pizza and grabbed a bag of chips. For dinner, I passed up honey roasted duck for chicken nuggets and fries.
As a professionally trained chef, watching her only child fill up on junk food for a week straight hurt just as bad as the hypothetical news of that same child succumbing to a life of crime. So three years later, she was still mourning the destruction of my diet—and getting on my damn nerves about it.
I was so close to telling her that too, but by the time the words transcended from my brain to my lips, I had already backed down—like I always do. “That’s not all I eat, though…” I mumbled under my breath.
My dad, who must’ve been as sick of my mom’s nit-picking as I was, changed the subject before she could contest my response. “So how’s work been?”
That question may have been for me, but his attention was focused solely on the troublemaker in the chair beside him. They faced each other, eyes locked in a staring contest so tense, even I considered ducking for cover.
With an exasperated sigh, he told her to chill and stop being so confrontational. That they were here to visit, not argue. And with a very visible frown, she told him he’s being dramatic and that she’s allowed to inquire about her daughter’s life choices—
At least… I think that’s what they would’ve said had they used actual words; but since they were sitting in silence, staring each other down, I had to rely on my imagination, which I’m pretty sure was accurate.
See, when I was little, they argued telepathically all the time—especially when I was the topic of discussion. So whenever my mom made the mistake of saying something crazy in front of my dad, he’d pull her to the side; and for the next few minutes, the only communication between them was through expressive eyebrows, animated sighs, and exaggerated faces.
By the time I was like seven, I had learned the meanings behind each expression, and was able to piece together what they were really saying without them ever actually saying it.
I guess they never outgrew it.
Add that to the list, right next to ‘trying to control my life—for one of them, anyway.
I waited a minute, hoping they would put an end to this childish feud—seeing as we were in public and the staring thing’s kinda weird—but they didn’t; so I lifted my drink and plopped it down hard on the table. The loud clanking of glass against wood, powerful enough to break their gaze and make them stare… at… me…
Maybe I should’ve left them alone.
My dad sighed. “I’m sorry, Pumpkin. What were you saying?”
He put on his best I-can’t-wait-to-hear-what-you’re-about-to-say face as he waited for my response.
“Oh…” I glanced at my mom—who couldn’t have been interested in my response. Not with the way she was facing the other tables, silent, with her arms folded across her chest, and her eyebrows all scrunched up. For her, this kind of angry silence had to mean either; she was plotting her next move, or my dad had finally gotten her to shut up for once.
My money was on the first one.
“I was just saying that…”
“What, Cami?” she snatched her head around like she had just read my thoughts. “Are you going to answer his question or not?”
Is it too early to cash out my bet?
“It’s fine,” I said, sparing any actual details, since I’m sure that would be a problem, too.
“I’m glad to hear that.” My dad smiled.
My mom, on the other hand, was not smiling because she, predictably so, was not glad to hear that.
“Since everything’sfine,” she said, her voice perfectly mimicking mine. “Does that mean you aren’t planning on getting back into graphic design? And actually putting your degree to use?”
Haven’t figured that out yet— Not because I don’t want to. It’s on my to-do list— like, right at the top. I’ve just been… busy…
“I’m… working on it.”
She gave me her famous I’m-not-buying-this-shit face. “Working on it, huh? Let me guess. You’ve been busy?”
How did she—
Our food arrived, and just in time too, because the urge to get away from this table was becoming harder to suppress—especially after that last question. I grabbed the waiter’s attention, and as a last-ditch effort to prolong the inevitable, got him talking about desserts.
He handed me a menu, and as he detailed every cheesecake topping imaginable, she sat across from me, impatiently waiting; her glare practically searing a hole into my forehead.
I raised the menu slowly, blocking her view, while I pretended to think over my options.
When I didn’t seem wowed by their endless selection of cheesecake, he moved on to the brownies, and that’s when her patience tank hit E.
With one look, she sent him scrambling away from the table—along with my paper shield—leaving me exposed.
My dad, who until this point, was lost in his own world of filet mignon, garlic mashed potatoes, and sautéed vegetables, noticed the waiter’s sudden disappearance, and tried to spark up a new conversation. My mom, though—wasn’t done with me yet.
“When’s the last time you heard from Brandon?” she asked.
Finally, an easy one.
“Before I changed my number.”
Best decision of my life.
My dad nodded, his face beaming with pride. “I’m glad to hear you’ve moved on, Pumpkin.”
But she didn’t react at all. Instead, she moved on to her follow-up question. “So since Brandon’s out the picture, does that mean you’re dating again?”
“No!” I blurted out like a fucking idiot.
This… I already knew what she was going to say, but I mean… I’m not really dating— not if you want to get technical ‘cause like… I’ve only been on one date, and that wasn’t even a date-date, so what I said technically wasn’t a lie. Not really.
“I’m not…” I said, hoping to undo the damage my hasty response had already caused.
It didn’t work.
She sighed in that way she does whenever I disappoint her. “What’s his name, Cami?”
“She said she’s not seeing anyone, Bridgette.” My dad tried to defend me, but she wasn’t trying to hear it.
“That’s what’s got you so distracted you can’t do what you came out here to do, right?” she asked. “I bet you’re not even drawing anymore, either. Are you?”
Now, she’s just jumping to conclusions because I have— I am… just… not as much as I— Whatever.
“You’re going to keep letting your life revolve around these boys, Cami, and when things don’t turn out the way you want, you’re gonna find yourself starting over—again.”
“I’m not, though…”
She unwrapped her napkin, completely ignoring my response. “You better figure your stuff out girl, ‘cause whatever you’re looking for, I guarantee you it’s not in no boy.”
Camilla’s parents pay her a visit; and the day starts off exactly how she expected.
I can’t believe she would pop up on me like this! I stomped circles around my living room. No. Actually, I can. This is classic Bridgette. Only thinking of herself and what she wants with no regard for my feelings or my time. I mean, what if I was busy today? I plopped down on the sofa; relieving the floor from the hour-long assault it had been subjected to. I could’ve easily been doing something that took real planning, like… a vacation.
People go on vacations all the time during the summer. So what if I was on my way— No. Already gone to a resort in another city or state or country, even? I smiled at the thought of having the upper-hand for once. She would’ve shown up here with a fresh supply of unsolicited opinions, hot and ready to serve; and I would’ve been on the beach, in a bikini, sipping my third margarita, without a care in the world.
My smile widened as the image of her disappointed face in front of my unanswered door played on a loop. This would be her first taste of defeat, and the fact that I was the chef behind this salty-ass dish would take her to new levels of anger. The type that would have her calling, making all kinds of threats, if I didn’t pack my bags and get my ass back to Atwood ASAP. So dismissing her calls, letting her go to voicemail, as her loss of power became overwhelmingly obvious, that would send her into a fit of rage.
I snickered at this imaginary victory. My laugh intensifying as the vision of her throwing the fifty-year-old equivalent of a tantrum appeared in this fantasy.
I collapsed into the sofa cushion, on the verge of tears, as gut-busting laughter took over me. I was r-e-l-i-s-h-i-n-g in this scenario, but then the scariest sound imaginable ripped through my apartment, nearly yanking my soul from my body.
I jumped to my feet, my heart doing full-blown dance moves, as I sprinted across the room. That horrifying-soul-shattering sound that had me visibly shaking in the window of my patio door was the slamming of a car door. And judging by the way the car whimpered when the door smacked it — I was sure the owner was my mom.
I peeked behind the curtain to confirm my suspicion. It was her. Arm-in-arm with my dad, James, cuddled up like they were on some kind of date. She whispered something to him. Probably the details of her evil plan— Wait. No. She wouldn’t do that ‘cause then he’d take my side, and she hates when he does that. So it must’ve been something else. Something I’d have to figure out later because they were on their way up.
I dashed into the kitchen for one last look-over. The sink, my main area of concern, seemed clean, but my version of clean was nothing like my mom’s version of clean. So, if there was so much as a speckle of last night’s spaghetti sauce left anywhere, she would find it — and I would never hear the end of it.
The sound of their footsteps met me at the door, and with the most convincing smile I could muster up –given the circumstances — I opened it.
“Hey, Daddy!” I wrapped my arms around my dad’s neck; a spark of genuine excitement taking the place of dread for a moment.
“Hey, Pumpkin!” he replied in his deep-soulful voice, taking me right back to the happier moments of my childhood.
He lifted me off the ground and spun me around like this was his homecoming, and I was still the five-year-old girl waiting by the door for him. “I’ve missed you so much!” he said.
My mom rolled her eyes as she pushed past us and into the living room. “Put that girl down,” she said. “She is too big to be swinging around like that.”
“Oh, hush Bridgette.” He dismissed her unnecessary commentary. “She’ll never be too big for my hugs.”
“Hmph.” She chuckled sarcastically; bypassing the entire living room and heading straight into the kitchen. “Tell that to your back.”
Here we go…
I pushed the door closed and scurried across the room. “Hey, Mama.” I said, following closely behind her.
And just as I predicted, this room was first up on her ‘inspection checklist’. She was looking straight ahead, so I couldn’t see her face, but I knew she was watching, judging everything.
She sighed, as if my presence was annoying her.
That was fast.
“Hey, Cami,” she replied without so much as a glance in my direction.
Yeah… She’s definitely annoyed.
I had no idea what crime I committed between the door and the kitchen, but I continued to follow her; hoping to thaw her cold shoulder and earn myself a spot on her good side.
“How was the drive over?” I asked.
“Was there any traffic or…” my voice faded to silence as she approached a dead end.
She rerouted, heading back in my direction, but as she neared the sink, her footsteps halted. From the middle of the room, she meticulously scanned the walls, the stove, the countertops, and especially — the sink! Why is she staring at the sink?! She moved in closer, and as I stood there, frozen, inspected the base of the faucet; a concerning look on her face.
It was time to go— Not her. Me. ‘Cause I knew where this was going, but if I attempted to evade the criticism that was coming my way, it would only make things worse. I needed a diversion, something big and unavoidable like… a break-in or natural disaster. But my door was locked and the weather was nice, so I had to work with what I had.
I faced the living room; fear practically oozing from my body, but my dad — my protector, and the only thing that keeps her from truly speaking her mind — was too busy repairing the TV stand to see I was in danger. His helpfulness is going to get me verbally murdered!
She turned to me slowly. Oh my God. And as my arms wrapped tightly around my body. OH MY GOD. Surprised me by saying, “You have a roommate?”
She got that from the sink?
“Oh… Yeah…” I replied, hesitantly. My arms loosening, just a little.
Was this some kind of set-up? Getting me to let my guard down so when shots start firing, I wouldn’t see them coming?
She let out a small chuckle as she walked past me. “Well, that explains it.”
This was definitely a set-up.
I spun around to keep my eyes on her. “Explains what?”
“The sink, Cami,” she said. “How many times have I told you about wiping it down when you were done with the dishes?”
And there it is. The criticism. The only thing she ever has to say to me and the one thing that ruins… everything.
Oh, how I’d pay money — real money — to have her lose her voice for like a decade or three.
“Enough for me to know better than to think you finally started listening just because you moved your behind to Atwood.”
What does me moving to Atwood have to do with sinks and dishes?
“Speaking of which,” she went on. “I’m glad you finally found time for us in your busy schedule.” She rubbed my dad’s shoulder playfully. “Your daddy here has been dying to visit.”
Was she for real? What part of receiving a text with their arrival time was my decision? How was I even—
Oh… that was my crime. Never extending the invitation she’s been demanding for months. Mystery solved, I guess.
He finished his work on the TV stand. “It’s a good thing too,” he said, pulling himself up from the ground. “This leg was so loose, another day or two,” he tapped the top of the TV. “And this would’ve been on the floor.”
She fake-gasped. “Did you hear that Cami? It’s a good thing we’re here because without us, you’d have trouble on your hands. Again.”
And for this crime, she’s going to spend the rest of the day making me pay for it. Is jumping out the second-floor window a logical option?
Ever wonder what kind of music would play during episodes of Camilla’s story if it were an actual show? Well, now you know!
I finally got this playlist to a point that I’m happy with, so here it is! Camilla and I are most definitely soul sisters when it comes to our musical tastes, so just like you would in any of my personal playlists, you’ll find mostly Hip-Hop and R&B singles (many of them by the same artists because we like what we like!).
The overall theme of the playlist is the various stages of her relationships/feelings with herself and the people in her life. Most of the emotions depicted are hers, but there are few that belong to others. As you can see, things get… interesting, lol.
The position of each song follows the progression of the story. Bonus points to you if you can guess which song represents which scene (or idea) that we’ve seen so far!
My thoughts on Notion along with a few resources to help customize your workspace.
I’ve searched high and low for a program to call home for my creative projects that not only does what I need, but looks how I want too. From Evernote to Scrivener to Google Docs, they each had features I really enjoyed, but lacked in others I can’t live without. So stumbling across a recommendation for Notion a few months ago was like the answer to all of my workspace needs.
What I Like About It
It’s simple to use and highly intuitive. The block system functions very similar to WordPress’ (where this blog is hosted) so the learning curve was nearly nonexistent.
It’s highly customizable, with options to embed playlists, videos, gifs, even widgets that display weather, time, and fun quotes. On top of that, there are cover photos and emojis that can be customized to make each page truly unique.
It has a calendar and scheduling feature. Having my content and content calendar all in one place is super convenient.
It has both online and offline functionality and syncs across multiple devices. Being able to start something on my PC and pick up later on my iPad is a must and Notion allows me to do so effortlessly.
Easy-to-use navigation system in your sidebar at all times.
It’s free! Need I say more?
A Few Resources
With all the customization options Notion provides, it would be a shame not to take advantage of them, so here are a few theme and widget resources I found while working on my space:
Notion custom themes – Google Chrome extension. Only works on the web version, so be mindful of that.
I’ve been meaning to design a proper poster for Camilla’s story since forever, so when the Sim Story Directory was created on Tumblr by users: @literalite, @valentinicsims and @astralsi, I finally found the motivation to get it done.
The story behind the design
So, I have a little playlist (that I’m always adding to) of songs that give me certain ‘Camilla vibes’ based on either the melody/beat, lyrical content, or all three! While doing the set-up for this shoot, I was listening to I Hate U by SZA (embedded below — explicit lyrics) which I swear, is perfect for her, because the feelings expressed in that song are some that Camilla goes through often, lol. So, I decided that the theme for the shoot would be, “I’m over it,” so that’s what we see here.
Things like: the post-it notes (full of positive reminders) on the wall, the Starbucks drink, moving box (on the nightstand to the right), books, clothes, hair products, etc… are all things that I feel give little glimpses of her personality and into her life.
Salim attempts to change his friendship status with Camilla.
An opening in her weekend schedule was about as rare as a news site devoid of clickbait titles. She was booked, weeks in advance, for things she couldn’t get out of, but swore she would if she could. Weekend after weekend, one rejection after another, I persisted, in case she found the time, but her answer and the apologies that followed remained the same, until today.
We were on the phone, talking about the movie she saw with her friends last night, when an ad for this breakfast fusion place interrupted the video I was watching. It followed an enthusiastic waiter who was delivering an order to an equally enthusiastic family. The camera zoomed in as the youngest kid dived into his meal—a plate of red velvet pancakes smothered in hot fudge with a side of cheesecake ice-cream—according to the subtitles at the bottom of the screen.
My initial thought was one of disgust followed by concern for the kid’s teeth. My next, was motivated by my short-lived career in marketing, and had me curious about the restaurant’s target demographic.
As a joke, I said, “Can you believe there’s a place selling pancakes and ice cream together?” I laughed. “I wanna see the faces of these first graders they’re catering to when the bill comes.”
But then when she said, “Oooh! For real?” With just as much enthusiasm as the kid in the commercial, a memory of the time she ordered chocolate milk to wash down her ranch dressing drenched, barbeque chicken pizza, reminded me that her palate was right on par with those aforementioned first graders’.
“I could go for some ice-cream right now,” she added. “Pancakes too.”
Was that a hint to ask her out again? I pondered the details of her current situation. She was home, in bed, and since she called instead of texting, I could assume, alone and available too. This rare moment of down-time in her life could be my chance to finally get some time with her—off the phone and away from work—so I could tell her what I’ve been thinking… feeling…
“Yeah…” I decided to take my chances. “You wanna go get some?”
“Right now?” she asked.
I laughed. “It’s breakfast time, right?”
“Uh, right,” she said, through sounds of shuffling and other quiet movements. “Pick me up in 30 minutes?”
An hour later, we were seated on the restaurant’s patio with half-a-table full of food that should never be eaten together. My little section was safe, consisting of eggs benedict and a side of hashbrowns; but hers was another story. There were waffles with ice cream, fudge, bananas, and whipped cream; and for her drink, a kiwi banana smoothie.
She twirled a forkful of ice-cream dipped waffles in my face. “It’s sooooooo good, Salim.” She taunted. “One bite. You’ll like it. I promise.”
“Hell no!” I laughed, directing her hand back across the table. “You couldn’t pay me to eat that.”
She popped the tainted waffle piece into her mouth. “That’s because you don’t know good food.”
“I’m concerned you actually believe that.”
“Whatever.” She rolled her eyes. “Eat your boring ass eggs.”
I was prepared to dispute that good food comment, but she got a text that wiped the smugness off her face before I could.
“Ugh!” She slammed her phone facedown onto the table. “Can I change the locks and pretend like I don’t know her when she tries to open the door?”
This mood-ruining message must’ve been from her roommate.
I took a bite of my boringass eggs. “I’m pretty sure that’s illegal.”
“What’s illegal,” she said, “is being so annoying all the damn time.”
This issue with her and Pandora was way simpler than she wanted to believe and had an easy solution that she didn’t want to hear.
“So, I take it you haven’t talked to her about it yet?”
She sighed. Her eyes diverting away from me and off into the distance. “No, ‘cause she’s gonna get all weird and sad,” she said, “and I don’t feel like all that.”
She’d rather it be her who feels weird and sad than deal with the temporary discomfort of her roommate’s feelings. It’s like for her, confrontation was punishment for making someone unhappy; and the threat of that was enough to make her do crazy things. This fear has to come from somewhere. Maybe her childhood? Growing up as an only kid or something.
I stuck with that thought. “Man, I can tell you didn’t grow up with siblings.”
She brought her attention back to me, a frown on her face. “Um, aren’t you an only child too?”
“Yeah, but I had cousins who were more like siblings,” I explained. “So I still had to do the arguing, sharing, telling them not to touch my stuff. You know, all the things you don’t wanna do.”
“Wait.” She raised an eyebrow. “How come you’ve never mentioned these cousin-siblings before? We’ve talked about literally everything. I mean, you’ve told me things from middle school summer camp— I even know the story behind your one and only attempt at playing the clarinet, but these sorta-kinda-siblings never come up?” Her suspicious expression grew serious. “I need some answers.”
I drew in a deep breath, and as she stared me down like I was hiding something huge, contemplated how to condense a story that was way more complicated than it should be.
“Alright…” I clasped my hands together, my throat a little dry all of a sudden. Things with my mom’s side of the family aren’t… great. There’s a lot of tension, resentment for things I don’t really understand, but still find myself caught in the middle of anyway. “Remember how I told you my mom went through some things after my dad died?”
She nodded, lowering her voice. “Depression and stuff, right?”
“Yeah.” I cleared my throat. “So, we moved in with her sister— my aunt and her two kids for a while.”
“Okay?” She leaned into the table, her face rested on the back of her hands, like she thought there was some deep-dark secret on the way.
“And that’s it.” I shrugged, as if my relationship with my cousins—one more than the other—wasn’t a direct source of contention in my life. “We grew up. Went our separate ways. Did our own things.”
She rested in her chair. “So, y’all don’t talk, ever?”
“When we need to.”
Her eyes narrowed, reverting to that stare she gave me a few minutes ago. “I feel like you’re being intentionally cryptic.”
“And I feel like you should just talk to your roommate.”
“You know what?” She rose from her seat. “I’m going to the bathroom.” And pushed my head as she walked past me. “I hope you have some better advice by the time I get back.”
I looked over my shoulder and watched as she entered the restaurant. She looked back at me and smiled, before disappearing into the dining room. This advice she claimed she wanted would stay the same no matter how often she asks, but I hoped to change other things like… our friendship status. There was chemistry between us that was present from the day we met. And not to sound like the love interest in a bad romance novel, but the smile she gave me when I found her employee badge told me she was worth getting to know.
She was quiet and let me lead our conversations, but witty and entertaining with her responses. She was cagey about the things she shared at first, but I know now that it’s just baggage from her old life. She wasn’t ready to date again—at least that’s what I got from her stories about her last relationship—so we became friends until the right time came around. Like today. I think today’s the right time.
I knew exactly what to say and was ready to put it all out there, but when she slid back into her seat, the cocky little smile she left with was gone, and the sides of her shirt were balled up tightly in her fists. Which only meant one thing.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
Her telltale sign. Arms folded so tight, I questioned whether or not she could breathe. It was the first thing I noticed about her, too. Even with a hand full of mail, way across the room, her nervous energy landed right on my desk.
She slumped into her seat. Her breathing much more shallow than before. “My parents’ll be here tomorrow.”
That explains the mini-freak out she’s having.
My relationship with my cousin was bad, but it was nothing compared to hers with her mom. And even with their history, this visit wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but to her, there wasn’t much that could top it.
I rubbed her elbow under the table to remind her of that fact. A trick I learned when I was younger with my mom. “It’s not that bad, Camilla.”
She loosened her grip and pushed her plate away; a little pout on her face. “Says the person who hasn’t had the misfortune of meeting Bridgette.”
She was upset and knowing her, likely to stay this way for the rest of the day.
Following Amir’s unexpected offer, Camilla seeks advice from someone much more knowledgeable about the subject of ‘casual dating’ but not before dealing with Pandora first.
I had no idea what I wanted to do. But his offer was more than tempting and had certain parts of me begging to accept. They were loud, obnoxious; clouding my head with reminders of the fun we have together and the feelings I’m left with afterward. They complained about the boundaries and hinted at adventures waiting on the other side. I was inclined to believe them. I mean, fun inside the room could be even more fun outside of it, right?
But there was another part of me, struggling to be heard beneath the loud chatter of pleasure seeking thoughts. It warned of blurring the lines, more than they already were, and getting tangled up in the strings of expectations or worse — commitment; and sinking into the uncomfortable position of having to choose between one thing I wanted and another I wanted… just as much.
I mulled over this decision; my mind changing as often as the traffic lights that lined my way home. I was stuck, polarized by fear, scared of making the wrong choice, and in need of guidance from someone — someone a lot more experienced with this kind of stuff.
And by the time I reached my apartment building and placed my key in the lock of my front door, I knew exactly who that someone was. I just had to make it through Hurricane Pandora to get to them.
“You’re home!” The human storm rushed toward the door; trapping me between it and the dinner table. She was dressed in her favorite apron, and judging by the sweet smell of jasmine rice floating from the kitchen, making dinner. One of the few benefits of her living here.
I eased around her, tossing my keys on the table. After two months of being bombarded every. single. time I walked in the door, I was getting real sick of this welcome wagon routine. “Yes. Pandora.” I sighed. “I came home. Like I do. Every day.”
She followed me through the living room and over to the refrigerator. “Well, not every day,” she said. “You usually don’t come home on weekends.”
She’s exaggerating. I’m home most– some– occassiona– She needs to mind her business!
I grabbed a soda from our wide-range of beverages; another benefit of our living arrangement. “Okay, but you know I’m coming back eventually, so you don’t have to be so dramatic.” And exited the kitchen before she could rebut that response, too.
I thought we were done talking, seeing as I was halfway down the hall, but the energetic footsteps behind me proved otherwise. And she wonders why this is the last place I want to be. I picked up my pace and she followed suit, blocking my evasion of yet another unwanted conversation. I wasn’t giving up, though. My safe space was just a few feet away, and she was not stopping me from getting to the answers I needed. I sped up some more, hoping she would get the hint, but a glimpse over my shoulder revealed a new level of crazy — and it was even more terrifying than I was prepared for.
She was on my tail, following– no, chasing me like a madwoman. Her arms stretched out in front of her with her hands reaching for my ponytail. She’s planning to yank me into a conversation? Really?!
With only inches left between me and my bedroom, and desperation at an all-time high, I made the dangerous, but creative, decision to baseball slide in-between the partially cracked door, landing me a home-run straight into safety and away from her motormouth-having-personal-space-violating ass.
“Wait!” she yelled from the hall. “We need to discuss dinner!”
I gripped onto the doorknob, pressing the full weight of my body into the door. I really need to invest in a lock. “Whatever you want is fine!”
She jiggled the doorknob. “But I have options!” And knocked a few times; the determination in her fist vibrating against my back. “There’s grilled salmon, teriyaki chicken- Ooh! I could do a T-Bone. Do you like yours medium or-”
My heels were as deep in the carpet as they could possibly go, my fingers were slipping, and the barrier between me and my rabid ass roommate was disintegrating at an alarming rate. I was losing this battle and if I didn’t think of something — anything — she would never leave me alone.
“Salmon!” I shouted. “Let’s do salmon, and maybe we could watch a movie or something later?”
I regretted those words the minute they bolted from my reckless lips, but it was too late to take them back.
“OH-MY-GOD! Dinner and a movie!” She finally let go of the doorknob. “Give me 30 minutes.” Her voice trailed down the hall. “And I’ll present you with thebest salmon pesto you’ve ever had!”
30 minutes? I could work with that.
With the clock ticking, and my freedom disintegrating by the second; I kicked off my shoes, tossed my drink on the nearest surface, and made a call to that expert I mentioned, better known as Cassandra. Her dating rap sheet was three times the size of mine, and with her aversion to long-term relationships and all things permanent, I just knew she had some much needed wisdom to guide me through this thing. I filled her in on the details and once I was done and it was her turn to speak; she asked a question that took me right back where I started.
“So, what’s stopping you from saying yes, Salim?”
And that was the other thing… Salim. We’re… friends, but sometimes… it feels like more than that. It feels like… he’s always around, in my space, on my lunch breaks, on my phone — which, coming from anyone else, would drive me crazy, but from him… I like it. I like the way he makes me laugh and how he really listens to what I have to say. How he’s full of all these random facts that he loves to share with me and how he loves spending time with me just as much. I… like that we’re friends… Really good friends… And I don’t want to lose that.
“Yeah… kind of,” I said. “I just don’t want Amir thinking we’re something that we’re not.”
“It’s not like you can just fall into a relationship, though.” She laughed. “So, just go see your movie and afterwards, do whoever you want.”
“Cass, stop.” I smiled at the sneaky implication in her response. “It’s not like that.”
She sucked her teeth. “Girl, if it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be considering turning down Graylight tickets.”
Did she really just read me like that? I could’ve sworn I scrolled past my tell-it-like-it-is friend’s number.
“That’s not true, I– It’s…”
Okay, she’s right.
“Alright. Fine,” I conceded, “But for real, how do I keep my… very sexual… situation from messing with my… non-sexual situation?”
“Just make sure Mr. Sex knows that it’s nothing but sex and movies and whatever else y’all decide to do; then if you and Salim finally decide to stop playing, you can move on to that. Clean and easy.”
Clean and easy?
“It’s that simple?”
“Girl! Trust me,” her response beamed with confidence, “I know what I’m talking about.”