Despite being in a bar that I imagined could very well exist in Hell, I was cold and I was wet and I was happy.
It was pouring rain in North Philly and I was celebrating with a few friends my recent breakdown/break-up. There is such comfort in surrounding yourself with people who are as well acquainted with rock bottom as you are. Because on the roller coaster of life—you go up, you go down and occasionally a migrating goose explodes on your supermodel face. (Search “Fabio” and “Apollo’s Chariot 1999 Accident” for clarity.)
I was both on the verge of graduating from college and on the fence as to whether to move to California or stay in Philadelphia. The idea of leaving everything was as exciting as it was terrifying.
Amongst the high-fives and karaoke high-notes, my phone buzzed and, being the curious cat that I am, I checked the email that came in around midnight–
Please get back to me ASAP. Your mother and I need to know when you’re coming back and if you want to see your brother’s game. Continental Airlines has great prices to New York, 300.00 Round Trip. Can you leave Thursday afternoon or does it have to be Friday? Just give me feedback via text/email or call me Sunday night.
A few aspects of this email jumped out at me–
1. “Hey Sweetie”.
2. I don’t have a brother.
3. My Dad’s name is not Doug.
Then, my eyes lit up in Disney-esque excitement. I funneled the rest of my drink, wiped my lip on my sleeve and put a dollar on the bar-–it was time to get serious.
Once outside, underneath a busted umbrella, I masterfully composed this email–
Funny story, this is actually a different Alex Guttman. What are the chances!? Not a very popular name, maybe we’re distantly related?? Sorry about that.
-The Other Alex Guttman
Confidently, I send the email and stare at my phone, as if it’ll reply immediately. My mind starts wandering–or should I say stumbling, after all those gin and tonics.
This other Alex Guttman has to be around my age right?? She (and I know it’s a she because of the “Sweetie”) is leaving her parents in the dark about what she’s doing. They’re talking about cheap flights. Definitely not an adult. What if she’s the same age as me? We have lived our whole lives with the exact same name! We already have so much in common!
And suddenly, my phone buzzes that long buzz that means only one thing–An email–
Wow, interesting. What part of the country are you in we are in C
That was it. “…we are in C”. What the hell does that mean, Doug!? Cincinnati? Costa Rica? Can’t-write-an-email-town, USA??? He left me hanging. Like a man on the gallows who just wants to know the truth. Under a streetlight, shadowed by my umbrella and near one of those trees that smell like semen–-I stood, feeling completely out of place.
I looked straight up at the rain and thought about how farmers have to take their turkeys inside when it rains, because they’ll just stare at the sky, mouths’ agape and drown themselves.
The phone buzzes. My eyes flash open and I spit out a mouthful of rainwater–
Hit the button too quick…we are in California. Anyway sorry about the email.
California. Doug, you are my guardian angel.
No worries, I live in Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia but I’m actually moving to LA at the end of the month!
And it was decided. Right then and there.
Two weeks later and three years ago I moved to Los Angeles. I haven’t been able to get in contact with Doug since. Everything happens for a reason.