Callie leaned back in her chair and threw her hands to the ceiling. "Praise the Lord!" she shouted, giggling as diners around them turned to stare.
As Lila progressed through her thirties, she often wondered if she'd made the right decision, but she knew she was indeed better off alone than married to a man she didn't love. (For the record, Steve got married six months later to a girl he had known forever, the daughter of his parents' best friends. She gave up her job immediately and they moved to Englewood, New Jersey, where she is president of the local Hadassah chapter and mother to their three adorable children. Lila still feels lucky to have escaped.)
Two years ago Lila's company moved to Norwalk, Connecticut, and although she tried the reverse commute for a while she found herself sitting on the train and fantasizing about a little house, a garden of her own, sitting on a porch and sunning herself with a glass of wine and a cat curled up on her lap.
She was tired of New York, she realized. She had heard it said that once you were tired of New York, you were tired of life, but she knew that wasn't true. She just wanted a different kind of life, a move away from the rat race, from the dating scene that had gotten so much harder as she'd grown older.
JDate or match.com, it didn't much matter, it was always awful. Nobody ever looked like his picture, and actual romances were few and far between. It was time for a fresh start, somewhere she could be happy, just Lila and her cat.
She found a little Victorian cottage in Rowayton, almost on the water, in need of serious renovation, and while it took a good year to feel settled, to find her feet, to find her friends—a hard task when surrounded by married couples and children—she also found a peace that had been missing from her life in the city.
And then, last year, she met Ed. She heard him first, on his mobile phone in the Starbucks at the bottom of Greenwich Avenue, and it irritated her beyond belief, because she was firmly of the opinion that you need to take your phone calls outside so as not to disturb other people. She tried to ignore it, but he was having an argument with his wife—although as the conversation escalated it became clear she was an ex—and she was accusing him of not returning her son's clothes, and he was attempting to tell her he had bought the child's clothes himself and always made a point of returning hers.
It could have been interesting, if it hadn't become quite so loud.
"Excuse me?" She turned around, frowning, now hugely irritated.
"As interesting as it is to hear about the three Ralph Lauren polo shirts you swear aren't at your house, and the Merrell sandals, I'd much rather read my New York Times in peace. Would you mind taking the conversation outside?"
To be honest, Lila was gearing up for a fight. She quite wanted him to be rude back because she needed to let off some steam and found a good fight was sometimes all it took to put her in a really good mood.
The man's face fell. "I'm so sorry," he said, looking distraught and immediately standing up and heading outside. "I'm just . . .mortified. I'm so sorry to have disturbed you." "It's okay." Now it was her turn to be embarrassed. "Don't worry about it. Just keep it down." She buried herself in her paper, and looked up ten minutes later to find the same man standing in front of her, clearing his throat.