Lola pulled up to the curb in front of Tom’s Cape Cod in her silver Jetta. She often teased him about moving out of the city to “Wisteria Lane” and becoming domesticated, but secretly she loved it out here and was a bit jealous. The houses were pretty, well-kept, and spaced far enough apart for living. Some people in the neighborhood had small gardens; many had backyard pools. The whole atmosphere was relaxed. Lola could feel the stress melt away the closer she came to Tom’s neighborhood and the further away she drove from her hectic city life.
Tom had a beautiful golden retriever named Bella. Lola and Bella got along rather well; apparently Bella did not view Lola as a threat like she did women Tom dated. She could be difficult with them.
Tom opened the large navy blue front door and Bella bounded out to greet Lola. At 6’4, he had to duck slightly to go in and out, and his frame seemed to fill the doorway. He waved, and Bella wagged her tail excitedly, waiting for Lola to exit her car. Often when life in the city became overwhelming, Lola drove out to spend the day with Tom and Bella. The change of pace did wonders for Lola’s mental state.
“Hello Bella my sweet!” exclaimed Lola as she opened the car door and the dog greeted her. She waved at Tom, who was waiting on the front porch. She was taken aback at how handsome he looked, how at ease he was in his surroundings. “Stop this,” she told herself. “He is like a brother to you!”
“How was the drive?” Tom asked, leading her into his house. “Bella has been watching for you all day. I was thinking we’d go to the park since it’s such a beautiful day.”
“Sounds like fun,” answered Lola, putting her handbag and laptop case on the kitchen island. “I brought a new Frisbee for her. It was in a gift bag at some fundraiser event last week. Let’s see who is the better catch, the dog or her master!” Lola went to the refrigerator and poured herself a glass of iced tea from the pitcher on the shelf. She and Tom had been friends since their freshman year of college, some ten years ago. She was as comfortable in his house as her own apartment in the city. “Which car do you want to take?”
“Let’s take mine. It has a bit more room. And I’m sure you don’t want dog hair all over your city clothes,” Tom teased. They made their way to his SUV in the garage and piled inside. “Backseat, Bella,” he said. Lola buckled into the passenger seat and popped a disc in the CD player. “You have to hear this new band. I went to a performance last weekend and they are amazing! They sound a bit like The Killers meets U2 and have a love-child band.”
As they rode to the park, Lola stroked Bella’s head and let her mind wander. She had a sudden flash of another life – one involving living in a house with a yard and navy blue front door, flowers under the windows, and telecommuting two days a week. She had other friends who had moved out of the city and had the same arrangement, so she knew it was permitted by her company. And the commute back into the city wasn’t all bad, and there was even a train station nearby, cutting her time even more…
“Stop it!” she scolded herself. Where were these thoughts coming from? Sure, she loved it here, but for visits only. She loved living in the city, loved her apartment, her friends, the nightlife. “Well maybe not the nightlife,” she thought as it dawned on her she hadn’t been out to a club with her friends in quite a while. She had just been too busy, and at the end of a hard week at work didn’t feel like partying until the early hours of the morning. “Maybe living in the suburbs wouldn’t be so bad,” she thought. She decided to pick up a real estate booklet while they were out, just for browsing.
“What in the world are you thinking about so hard?” asked Tom. “This is a work-free weekend, remember? And I hope your phone is off, too; we don’t want to scare the ducks away so Bella can’t chase them!”
“I was just thinking about how nice it is out here. I might even get a home guide for when I get old like you!” teased Lola. Tom was all of a year older than she was.
Tom playfully punched her in the arm, but his heart skipped a couple beats. Imagine Lola living out here! He had always cared for her, but the past couple years realized he was comparing every girlfriend to Lola and finding the girl lacking, made up an excuse to break up with her. He would never tell Lola how he felt, though. He treasured their long friendship and knew she’d feel awkward and avoid him if she knew what he wanted from her.