Manicotti and Marriage

There are certain quotes that have no choice but to be permanently processed in perpetuity through Sulli’s plain life. They inevitably produce a heavy sigh or give goosebumps even on hot summer days.

They were collected over years of failing spectacularly. Life laughing at her, making her the punchline again. Leaving her with a quote memorized by her membrane. Reminding her to get back up one more time. Bloody lipped, swollen eyes, broken heart. Sullivan stupidly got back up and lived another day in the ring.

However in life’s all too familiar quirky sense of humor, the words still inspire Sulli to get out of bed to this day. It was Monday morning. It was for sure Monday morning because it felt that certain Monday feeling. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, they didn’t have a feeling. Sulli couldn’t tell them apart from each other, but Mondays, they rang clear as a bell. They came charging in after the weekends and were cold even on summer days. She could always tell when it was Monday. She often wished they wouldn’t exist anymore but then guessed Tuesdays would just become Mondays.

She woke up at 4am on this Monday morning, ready for a meeting that didn’t start until 9am. For the first time in twenty-five years, she would potentially be making plans for her future.

She was meeting with a woman who ran a program that was free for anyone who graduated in Pennsylvania. Some how Sullivan managed to squeak by with at least a high honors high school diploma. Thanks Beth. As she sat with her headphones on she thought of some of the quotes she’s heard throughout the years, the years of loss, the years of pain, all the years that seemed so wasted. But maybe they weren’t, maybe they were all just very slow learning lessons.

She felt it happening again and started thinking back to when she was twenty-five. Thirteen years ago. Life was, is, complicated. Sullivan got lost in the music of her headphones and her eyes started to glaze over, just as Maggie Rogers sang ‘Fallingwater’, through her earbuds.

Thirteen years ago she was a very young, very stupid, very green, and still, bartending in the Northside. Sulli started working two and three jobs, addicted to work and alcohol. She was struck with insomnia and depression. What seemed like a good solution at the time was working and drinking so much that exhaustion would take over and she wouldn’t have time to think and over think. She started a new part time job on the east side of town. It was swanky, sexy, lush, popular, and lured her away from the comfy beer and shot bar over in Northside. She stepped into this new world with high hopes and a clean slate, cutting hours back at Verdetto’s.

There was the undeniable fact that Sullivan had also become boy crazy in her late twenties. She remembered fondly, sometimes, being boy ludicrous. It had been some years and she was finally getting over Jake. Sullivan started to notice all the different shapes, sizes, and sexiness of all the men that just, caught her attention.

As if she were the main character in a young adult novel she found the fondness of an Executive Chef in this swanky high end new restaurant. Places like this had titles like, Executive Chef, Sous Chef, there was no such title of line cook. Executive Chef Ethan Entrist was tall, had a great smile, and made these incredibly delicious Butternut Squash Manicottis. Red Velvet Cakes, Kobe Beef Sliders, sensuality oozed from him and onto the plates he created. Executive Chef Ethan electrified and enlivened Sullivan’s emerald eyes.

She ended up spending more time in the kitchen than behind the bar. The nightclub and dinner crowd didn’t come in until late in this expensive part of town. And she arrived at work at three, sometimes earlier, for her own agenda.

It wasn’t long before she and Ethan were bringing heat into the walk in cooler.

It was about three months in, working two jobs, hot weekends spent with Chef Ethan. Awake all hours of the night, they went for drinks, dinners, dancing. Then Sullivan, as fast as she fell into love, she fell into hate. Chef Ethan dropped a bomb in between his amorous appeal and midnight moves. Casually without thought he mentioned his wife. And the uppercut in the ring caught Sulli in the chin. Married?! When? How? Why?!

That same day Sullivan was crushed with the truth, the bitter, biting truth that tasted nothing like Butternut Squash Manicotti’s, she punched Ethan in the gut. He left a Red Velvet Cake on the edge of the bar, an apology Sullivan supposed. There’s not a cake in the world that would make Sullivan forget a marriage, another woman, a lifetime promise, a huge commitment. She threw it in the garbage and walked out the back door of the swanky high end nightclub/restaurant.

The illusion of a better life, a beautiful life on the other side of town, far from the neighborhood with the highway through the middle, was shattered. She thought of the book her mother read to her when she was young, ‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very bad Day’. They have bad days, even in Australia. Sullivan laughed to herself at the book from her youth. She had become Alexander.

She went back to hardscrabble farm, the safety of Straub’s beer and Fish and her far simpler home. Picked up a part time job in Mount Washington, her home turf, a simple beer and shot bar on Shiloh Street. If Ethan left her with anything besides bitterness it was this one quote that has stuck with her thirteen years later.

‘The days are long, but the years are short.’ He said with his slick, cute, selfish, talented self.

Sullivan snapped out of her memory. It was time to go. Ethan was right. The days are long and the years are short. Time to go, plan, prepare, live.

Sullivan put down her headphones and put on her boxing gloves. It was, Monday morning after all.

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