Created by Diane Brown, Buena Beach is an online soap opera, giving up all the juicy details of some of the hottest guys and gals of Buena Beach, a small town in Southern California. Check back everyday for a new episode here on HelloBeautiful.com.
It’s been a good few weeks since settling in with my sister, despite the fact that I’m not supposed to be very settled at all. I’d asked to stay at her place just for a couple months, after my landlord informed me that he was increasing rent for the third time this year. I’d called his bluff, telling him I’d rather move out and buy my own place than pay him another penny. What I hadn’t realized was that he had a waiting list a mile long full of folks eager to pay even more each month than the amount he’d asked me to pay. It’s a shame that an attractive, learned schoolteacher can’t afford to purchase a home near her job. But, that’s what sisters are for.
Diane had been fortunate enough to score a unit in a small complex right on the edge of Long Beach, bordering Buena Beach, back when she first started working at the City. Nothing fancy, but it was a nice two-bedroom with a balcony, in walking distance of an In N’ Out Burger, a Target, a gym, and an inexpensive frozen yogurt place that let you throw on your own toppings. And it took me only six or seven minutes to drive to work at Buena Beach High when I left early enough. So I wouldn’t be disappointed if Di decided to make my stay here permanent. Not only is the location perfect, but she was the one who’d inherited my grandma’s cooking gene, whipping up multi-entrée dinners for us each night as easily as McDonalds cranked out burgers. Plus, it’d give me a chance to save up money so I could purchase a place of my own eventually, especially with home prices plummeting. I’d just have to be on my best behavior so she’d appreciate the benefit of my company.
The only difficulty, however, would be handling her relationship. You see, she’s dating my man. Ex-man, yes. But he was my man! The guy for whom I often dropped everything so we could kick it. The guy that captivated and entranced me; that told me funny jokes and schooled me on politics and world issues. The brilliant student. The soon-to-be PhD candidate. My Jon.
We met in Westwood at a hidden café that was a nice alternative to the hundreds of Starbucks in the area. I was annoyed when I found him in my usual spot, the cushy velvet chair closest to the fireplace. I had to take a small table by the window, the only seat left near an outlet for me to plug in my laptop. As soon as I saw him get up to leave, I made a mad dash to his chair, claiming it as my own by dumping my open backpack and stacks of papers on top of it. Then I threw away the lukewarm cup of coffee he’d been nursing and moved his abandoned plate to the next table. As soon as I’d gotten back on track with my paper, I felt the unnerving presence of someone standing over me.
“Oh…hello,” I’d said, surprised to find Jon back.
“You’re in my seat.”
“Oh, really? I’m…I’m sorry. I thought you had left.”
He shook his head, his arms folded. “Nope. Just had to take a bathroom break. The coffee.”
Needless to say, he wasn’t too thrilled when I told him I’d thrown away his cup. So, I took the initiative of replacing his coffee. He, in turn, suggested that we could share the spot, smiling for the first time. We spent the next two hours talking, me not caring that my 10-page paper (that was only 2 pages deep at the time) was due at 9:00 a.m. He told me about his studies; that he was a social scientist and ethnographer, interested in African-American relationships and the black family. I was practically salivating by the time he finished, only getting up to leave because the café manager shooed us out.
So we met there again (to “study”) the next day. And the next. He’d ask me questions about my pursuits – a graduate degree in education – and my interests. But all I wanted to talk about, eat, sleep, and breath was Jon. To this day, I don’t know how I ever made it out of UCLA with a degree, as much time and energy as I spent on him…the two of us just talking, most of the time. Listening to music and chillin’. Eating out late at night at Fatburger. And cuddling, just like one of those black couples in the movies that seem too good to be true.
Then came word a few weeks before I graduated that he’d received funding for his dissertation proposal. Before then, we’d rarely spoken about his research specifically – just all the things that other folks in his department were doing. So I was completely shaken when he told me about his proposal. “I’m going to foster a relationship with a black woman, playing the role of a total slacker, in order to look at the reality of what some of our women are willing to deal with because of the disproportionate availability of black men.”
As you can well imagine, I was PISSED on so many different levels. His willingness to destroy our perfect relationship in the name of “science”; the fact that he was, in a sense, “leaving” me for some other woman; and the fact that he’d be willing to screw up some other poor woman’s life in order to further his career. He gave me some bull about somehow maintaining our relationship during the “study period”, but this wasn’t the kind of proposal I’d had in mind from him. So I packed up my things (yes, although I paid rent each month for a small studio, we were basically shacking up the last 3 months of our relationship) and left, working hard to get over him the following summer when I moved down the coast and got a position with the Buena Beach School District.
Of course, when Diane called me up the day before Thanksgiving insisting that I let her invite her new boyfriend, Jonathan, over to join us at her place for dinner the next day, I thought nothing of it. I mean, what are the odds that out of the 3.5 million adult women in Los Angeles County that the “subject” of his research would be my sister?
With my luck, pretty darn good it turned out. So on Thanksgiving, I arrived to find Diane cheery, bright-eyed, and in love with her new boyfriend (although at that point, he hadn’t yet turned off the charm). He was on the couch drinking a beer and watching a game when I walked in, the both of us quickly losing our appetites upon seeing each other. Not wanting to lose it, I cut out first, telling Di I was feeling dizzy, and that I wanted to go home to lie back down. I didn’t even wait for a plate of food, even after spotting the familiar peach cobbler Jonathan’s mother had often whipped up for the two of us.
For months, I managed to just miss my sister’s calls or to find myself busier than ever in order to get out of plans she tried to make by e-mail. As things between the two of them became more serious, I considered coming clean with her about everything, but then felt guilty about waiting so long to do so. Then I began rooting for Di to prove Jon’s hypothesis wrong, telling myself that she’d leave him once he took the loafing to ridiculous heights. But here we are, just around the corner from one year, and they are still together.
But she told me that come her next birthday – this Monday – she was gonna dump his sorry ass if he didn’t represent big time with flowers sent to her job, a fancy dinner, and some bling-bling. Just two days away from D-day, I’ve got my fingers crossed, hoping desperately that she kicks him to the curb. Hard.
Only problem is, I don’t know if I want them to break up so that she doesn’t get hurt…or so that I will stop hurting.
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