With him, she’d had some wonderfully stable times. Their time spent together was safe and comfortable. He was beautifully predictable, a real catch. She was stunningly cautious and appropriately fearful. Together, they were unstoppable. Ruled by routine and perfectly bland conversation, they were free from the rollercoasters of emotion in those dreaded romantic comedies that they carefully avoided at the movie theater.
Their lives were boring. And they liked it that way.
Each day at precisely 5:00 p.m., she would log off of her computer, place her paperwork in the blue filing folder, get up from her black, slightly oversized, bargain brand office chair, and leave her cubicle. She would exit the building through the door on the far right of the front entrance, walk to the parking lot, and get into her silver Toyota Camry. At exactly 5:23 she would arrive home and park in space 17 in her apartment building’s parking lot. After climbing two flights of maroon carpeted stairs, she would arrive at Apartment B5, unlock the door, walk three steps, and place her keys on the hook to her left. The next day, she would do it again. In fact, she would follow this exact routine, Monday through Friday, every week, with the exception of bank holidays.
His routine was nearly identical to hers, save a few details. At 5:05 p.m., he would leave his minimalistic office, take the elevator down 16 floors to the second level of the parking garage. He would walk to space 54, where his blue four door Honda Accord was waiting for him. At 5:38 he would arrive at his apartment building. He would park two spaces to the left of the red Subaru, enter the building through the second door from the right, take the elevator to the third floor, and go into Apartment 3G. He did the same thing every Monday through Friday, with the exception of bank holidays and the required five vacation days, which he used the first week of June every year.
On Wednesdays at 7 pm, the two would meet at J.G.’s Restaurant and Grill on 5th street, exactly twelve minutes from each of their apartments. She would order a salad, dressing on the side. He would order a grilled chicken sandwich on a whole wheat bun. They would casually discuss their days, how she had marveled over the fancy new copy machine in the office and how he had had to buy new ink for his favorite pen. At 7:55 they would ask for the check, split it evenly, and then leave separately. On Saturdays at noon, they would meet at the movie theater, buy two small popcorns, sit in the 5th row of the theater, and watch whatever movie had the best reviews for that week. After the movie, one would ask the other to dinner on Wednesday, and the other would say he or she would need to check his or her schedule, even though they both knew the answer was yes.
They were comfortable. And in their comfort, they found a strange sort of happy. The kind of happy you feel when all the lights are green on your drive to work, or when someone replaces the toilet paper so that it rolls over instead of under. A barely noticeable contentment. But a contentment nonetheless.