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Our brainstorming session commenced in Jesminder’s living room over a large meat and veggie pizza, three cans of orange soda and our daily dose of Cassandra’s gossip. I filled my plate with another slice of pizza and grabbed a seat next to her on the sofa. I listened as she detailed all of the dirty secrets she learned about Coffee Bae’s coworkers today and found myself wondering how much of all this was actually true. Coming off of that argument with Salim earlier today had me questioning things — not about her or her trustworthiness — I didn’t doubt that one bit, even if she couldn’t keep a secret to save her life, but more about how the things we hear are usually a version of the truth and not the actual truth especially when they travel through the grapevine, like my mom would say. It was this realization that made his words stick, the ones he said right before leaving the elevator, the ones that shattered everything I had assumed about him — things I only assumed because of the rumors I heard.
I floated out of my thoughts and back into the room just as she was finishing up the last few details of her report. Things were too far gone at this point to fix with Salim, I knew that, but I could still clear my conscience by correcting the info that started this whole thing in the first place.
I tucked my body into the corner of the sofa, bracing myself for the barrage of questions that were sure to follow this huge announcement. “Did you know that Salim and his wife… aren’t together anymore?”
The maniacal grin that spanned across her lips the moment those words left my mouth — had me rethinking this whole conscience-clearing mission — but it was too late. The information was with her now.
“Oh-my-fucking-god!” She tossed her plate onto the coffee table as the news of their failed marriage tantalized her insatiable appetite for gossip. “I can’t believe he finally left her!” She shrieked as she threw herself across the sofa to grill me for more details. “When did this happen? How did you find out? Did he tell you? Did he seem sad? I bet he wasn’t. Was he?”
“I don’t know.” I shrugged off her incredibly invasive questions. “He just kinda mentioned it when I saw him today.”
“I bet she tried to stab him again.” She presented her own, most likely inaccurate, theory. “You know this one time–“
“Hold up –” Jesminder crashed the conversation just in time to prevent the inception of yet another rumor. “Who the fuck is Salim? And before y’all answer that, is he gon’ help pay this rent?”
At the risk of saying the wrong thing and pissing her off in the process, Cassandra and I both opted for silence.
“That’s what I thought.” She sat down in the chair adjacent to us. “So can we maybe get to, I don’t know.” She threw her hands up. “Figuring out how to keep your ass from being homeless?”
“For the record though.” Cassandra placed a comforting hand on my knee. “I would never let you be homeless.”
See, this is why I love her. Gossiping and all that other stuff she does is nothing compared to what she’s always willing to do for me.
“Thank you.” I smiled.
“Of course we would never let her be homeless!” Jesminder sneered at her, breaking up our little Hallmark moment. “But that’s besides the point.” She turned her attention to me. “You gotta figure your finances out and that shit runs deeper than where you sleep at, at night.”
And that’s why I love her. Even though she has a… way with words, she makes my problems her problems — and she doesn’t play about her problems.
“I know…” I nodded.
“You know, I could just spot you the money.” Cassandra, once again, came to my rescue. “We can call it an early Christmas gift or something.”
As much as I would love to take her up on her offer and be done with this whole debt thing, I couldn’t. She spent way too much money on me already, always buying me lunch or paying for my drinks, if we add rent to the list, we may have to find a new label for this friendship and that was a direction I was not trying to go in.
“Cass, no.” I turned down her generous offer. “You already do so much for me already but thank you. It means a lot.”
“It’s not a big deal though.” She tried to reassure me. “Since I’m in good with my parents again, you know they’re taking care of basically everything which means I have way more money than I can spend and believe me, I’ve tried.” She sunk into the sofa, zoned out in some weird unfulfilled-rich-kid trance. “There’s only so many tarot decks and red bottoms a girl could buy…”
“And that only solves half her problem anyway.” Jesminder snapped her back into reality. “Next month, she’ll be right back here again. What she needs is some extra income — not a handout.”
“Ooh!” Cassandra sprang forward, pulling her phone from her pocket.” You could try freelancing. People are always looking for logos and stuff for their businesses.” She tapped the screen a few times then shoved it in my face. “See, look!”
This thing she wanted me to see was an app for freelancing creatives called Dollar Gigs. I scrolled through a few postings on the homepage which were mostly design and illustration stuff; all things I was familiar with but–
Jesminder joined us on the sofa to check out the app for herself. “All this shit right here.” She scrolled through the recent projects of one of the featured creators. “You already know how to do so use those skills to make you some money — maybe even enough to get you some furniture, set up a studio and quit that job you hate so much.”
Quit my job? In the mailroom? And be completely free from letters and packages and deliveries forever? The sound of that alone was enough to inspire me to dig out my sketchpad and for the first time in months, allow my pencil to leave its mark on at least one of the blank pages inside but I know it wouldn’t, even if I tried because no matter how many times I try, it doesn’t and at this point, I don’t think it will, ever again.
I looked down at the phone again at all of those portfolios full of projects by artists who hadn’t lost their passion. “I don’t know y’all.” I attempted to elaborate on these strange feelings of creative anguish. “I think I lost my mojo or whatever it’s called. I can’t even create for myself… let alone somebody else.”
“You ain’t lose it.” Jesminder took the phone from me, passing it back to Cassandra on her way across the room. “You just too busy worrying ’bout everything to let your creativity do its thing.” She reclaimed her seat in the chair next to the sofa. “You know, Cass used to be just like that too, ain’t that right?”
“Girl, yes!” Cassandra jumped to her feet as she relived her days of life in the orchestra. “Every time we had a show, I would get so nervous, I would straight up forget how to play!” She laughed as she continued her story, “So this one time, we had this show at the Elton Theater downtown and I just could not get it together–“
Hold up. Cassandra Goth — the girl who once took her top off at the pretzel shop just to make good on a dare from one of her Simstagram followers — had actual… fears? Moments of weakness where she couldn’t act because she was… afraid or confused or… lost? That was news to me.
I was nearly at the edge of my seat, still in shock by this revelation and needing to hear the rest of this story. “So, what happened?”
“The rest of the strings tried to jump me!” She burst out laughing. “For ruining their moment and shit.”
I relaxed into the sofa, struggling to picture a group of classically trained musicians going complete ape shit in public. “You got jumped by… the orchestra?”
“Don’t let them violins fool you.” She plopped back down next to me as her walk down memory lane came to an end. “Those girls can fight.”
“But that’s not the point.” Jesminder steered us back on track as usual. “The point is that you can get your creative mojo back too.”
Maybe she was right. I mean, if Cassandra found something that worked for her…
“So, how did you get yours back?” I asked in hopes of finding my own personal solution.
“Girl, I dropped out,” she replied in a tone that was just as lax as her body was in her seat. “Best decision of my life! The FREEDOM!”
“What the fuck, Cass!” Jesminder sent an angry pillow flying her way. “That’s not what she needed to hear!”
“My bad.” She shrugged. “I forgot we were on some motivational speech type shit.”
“The way… I want to strangle you sometimes,” Jesminder grumbled as she demonstrated the aforementioned strangling with her hands, “I swear to God!”
Silence took the floor as we each retreated to the realms of our own thoughts. Minutes upon minutes had passed and the only sounds in the room were those from the TV and the occasional word or two from Kaelyn who, to my surprise, had been quietly eating her pizza throughout this whole conversation. She has to be the most patient toddler in the entire planet. I thought for sure, we were done brainstorming, completely out of options for these problems of mine, until Cassandra leapt from the comfortable position in her seat again in another fit of excitement. “I got it! You need a roommate!”
“You know what? She’s right.” Jesminder replied in a rare moment of agreement between the two of them. “You have an extra bedroom that you’re not using so rent it out. Charge a deposit and first month’s rent upfront and that’ll cover your past due rent and leave you a little extra to carry you into next month.”
As good as the money sounds, especially the part about the extra, this roommate thing… I don’t know. My last roommate situation didn’t end well and she was someone I trusted but sharing my space with a stranger… with all my stuff…
My hesitancy must’ve been written all over my face because the girls were now demanding an answer.
“Sooooo?” Cassandra asked.
“Unless you have a better idea.” Jesminder joined in on the rushing along of my decision-making.
“I don’t… so…” I reluctantly agreed with this plan, “let’s do it…”
This version of the story often includes themes or events that took place in the last one, just a little differently. If you recall, in the OG story when Camilla first moved to San Myshuno, she rented a two bedroom apartment because it was the first/cheapest thing she found with immediate availability, and since she was having trouble finding a job, she put out an ad for a roommate which gave her three potential matches, one being Cassandra. Since we were still doing gameplay at the time and the roommate thing was glitching for me, I had Cassandra back out of moving in with her but to make it up to her, she helped her find a job and they became friends. I had a lot of fun with the roommate thing the first time around and really wanted to see that come back but of course… it will be… much, much different! 😈