Turning 30, Chapter 6

Ashlynn sat at a coffee shop with a glass of water. She chose the table outside and enjoyed the scenery. The plaza had an old world feel with light stone walls and a cobblestone floor. The windows were made of a heavy metal with fake ivy on the sides. Ashlynn waited, feeling a little awkward. Back first, Feliz came out. Clearly, his hands were full. When he turned around, it was confirmed. Clearly, he was on a lunch break from work because he still wore a nice suit. Out of all of her old friends, Ashlynn had thought he aged the most, but he still looked very handsome. As he handed her a cup of coffee, she felt a little embarrassed. “Thanks for the coffee! I spent the last of my money on a soda.”

He had a croissant with a slice of cheese on a plate, and he pushed it over to her. “This is for you too.”

Ashlynn looked surprised. “I didn’t say I was hungry.”

“You didn’t have to,” Feliz said, “I’m Italian-we’ve got a sixth sense about who hasn’t eaten enough. We get it from our mothers, making sure our family is fed.”

Ashlynn seemed impressed. “So, we haven’t seen each other in twelve years, you take one look at me and first thing you notice is that I haven’t been eating enough?”

“Mama would be so proud!” he half joked. They laughed. “I missed you Ashlynn. I wish I had more time to travel to Manhattan when you were there!”

Ashlynn commented, “I could’ve visited you too, but I got too wrapped up in trying to build a life out there. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I didn’t get forced to stop.”

Feliz took a sip of his cappuccino. “Yes, I heard about everything that went down at your old job. Did they ever catch him?”

“Catch him?” Ashlynn inquired.

“Your old boss, the so called Real Estate King.” Feliz explained, “After they caught him embezzling funds, he went into the middle of Times Square, stripped off his clothes, stole a police car, and ran for Canada. You did not know this?”

Ashlynn shook her head. “I was too busy feeling sorry for myself that I didn’t try to understand what happened. I was so mad that I didn’t wanna hear anything about the company’s news. But I could go on for a while about that. I know your lunch break is only an hour. Well, an hour is a long break, I mean…”

“I understand what you mean,” Feliz responded. “I had the option of taking a shorter lunch break in order to go home earlier, but I like to give my brain a break. Don’t tell my wife that. She often complains that I work too much.”

Ashlynn had forgotten that he got married, and it surprised her in their previous correspondence  every time he mentioned her. “How is Davida doing?”

Feliz got uncomfortable about the subject. “Oh, fine.” He suddenly looked really nervous. “Ashlynn, I’m glad we met in person. There’s something I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time.” Ashlynn sat up, intrigued. Feliz took a deep breath. “I’m gay.” Ashlynn did not look surprised. In fact, she kept watching him, expecting to hear more. “That’s it.”

Ashlynn smiled warmly. “I thought you said you had news.”

Feliz felt surprised by her response. “That was my news! I thought I wanted a wife and to make babies with her, you now, everything my Catholic family expects me to do. But, I’m not happy, and I am done lying to myself.”

Ashlynn agreed vehemently. “It’s about time!”

Feliz inquired, “You knew? How did you know? I didn’t even know until recently!”

“How could you not know?” Ashlynn responded. “You dress girlier than I do! And, not to stereotype, but you loved musical theater way too much. I thought it was obvious. I mean, you said you liked girls, but it always seemed so fake.”

Feliz got an extremely guilty look on his face. “My wife doesn’t think it’s fake. She really loves me. It will break her heart to tell her.”

Ashlynn commented, “There’s a lot of heartbreak going on right now. Did you hear about Tadd?”

Feliz replied, “Yes, his Facebook page makes it seem like he is…disturbed…”

“Yeah, he kind of had a breakdown. And he turns thirty in a month. In school, I remember he was the happiest guy I knew, and he made other people feel good justby being around and soaking in his positive vibes. Tadd just isn’t himself right now! We can’t let him hit a milestone in a state like that. So, on Friday I was going to get our old group together for dinner. We could plan out his birthday and cheer him up. Can you come?”

“Well, Davida won’t like it, so I’ll do it! Maybe I’ll get lucky and she’ll dump me so I don’t gotta be the bad guy!”

“Coward!”

They laughed and continued on their catching up session.

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