Road Movie: Chapter 23

“So the benefits of living in Los Angeles. Good food, good weather, a lot of pretty sights to photograph. Downsides, driving will be a bitch and everyone in the city thinks that they’re too good to hire a professional photographer.” Dakota listed. “New York, kind of out of the question. There’s no point in my parents buying a car, and honestly, it’s too grimy of a city. It would have been better if I was younger, but I’m not.” She looked at the prospects of living in Manhattan, but found herself disappointed. “And then we have San Francisco. Expensive real estate. Even worse than New York or LA. But then the lifestyle, it’s very European-influenced and laid back. It’s a definite change of pace from here.” She sighed. “And then we have Seattle. It’s beautiful, maybe too cold and rainy for my liking, but the lifestyle is very similar to San Francisco, and the real estate doesn’t suck, price-wise.” It was tough. Each city had pros and cons, and listing them off did not help make this decision any easier.

Looking at her calendar, Dakota sighed. She was almost done with her time at Hillary Jenkins. Tomorrow would be her last day. Time flew by, but she knew that she closed this door at the right time. Turning back to her computer, the brunette growled. It was hard for her to make her decision on which city she was going to move to. Each one had something to offer, and it made this choice difficult. In a lot of ways, she felt like she was trapping herself again. “No, you can’t think like that!” She growled. “Alright, let’s ignore these four cities, and just think about what you want to live in.” She reminded herself. “Okay, so I want the place to be clean. New York and Los Angeles, good bye.” She crossed the two off her list right away. “I want the place to be nice, the overall vibe to be relaxed.” She sat there, thinking harder. It was not a decision she could take lightly, but she needed to know what she wanted to the last detail before she relocated. “I think that this city would be perfect for me.” She finally decided, clicking on the apartment listings.

It was settled. Her lease on the new apartment started in a week. This would be her final week in Chicago. Looking around, she was very sad. The apartment she had shared with Phillip, she had finished packing away everything, including the bed. She was going to call the moving company sometime next week to help her re-settle in her new city. The only people who knew where she was going were her parents. The brunette decided to keep it a secret for the moment. She wanted to first settle in and really soak in the culture of the place she would be calling her new home. And then she could start advertising that she was living there, both professionally and on a personal basis. That seemed like a fair thing to do for herself.

Going to work, it felt bittersweet, as would most partings. This would be the second time she would be leaving the Hillary Jenkins family. The moment she stepped out of the elevator, Dakota was bombarded with confetti, streamers, and balloons. “SURPRISE!” Everyone shouted, although the brunette had a gut feeling that this was going to happen. “Act surprised, fool!” Frida screamed. “Ahhhh!” Dakota poorly feigned her enthusiasm while Virginia and Maria laughed. “We’re seriously going to miss you, though!” Everyone went in and gave her a hug. Even though she was leaving, Dakota knew that there would always be a place in this company for her. Frida even said it herself. But still, why was she crying? And why did this feel so final?

“We got you a goodbye present!” Maria grabbed a large book. It was filled with pictures of Dakota with all of her clients, the various projects she had a part of, and at the very end, a picture of the entire marketing team, with everyone writing something for the brunette. “We seriously are going to miss you!” Virginia hugged the brunette tightly, as if to never let her go. “The office is going to be a lot less funny without you, for sure.” Justin sighed. “Hey, what’s that supposed to mean, you motherfucker?!” Frida glared at her oldest sales executive. “Well, Dakota’s just clumsy in a very entertaining way.” He chuckled. “Remember when she gave you full-fat cream in your drink?” The male manager looked at Friday, who was not terribly entertained remembering that moment. “Okay, lactose farts aside, we need to take another photo.” Virginia grabbed out her polaroid camera. “Notice how we left the front page blank. That’s where this picture is going.” Maria pointed out in the picture book. “Aw, you guys!” Dakota was still very touched by the entire notion of her goodbye party. “Okay, on a count of three, say Frida!” Justin laughed. “Three, two, one, Frida!” “Shut the fuck up, bitches!” The camera went off. The shot included Dakota and Maria laughing, Virginia rolling her eyes at Frida’s remark, and Frida screaming at Justin. It was a perfect summarization of Dakota’s time in Hillary Jenkins.

“We’ll miss you, Dakota!” Maria and Virginia cried. The three were at dinner together with Monique, It was their last girls night out as a quarter together. “You better message us every day. We’ll let you know if Justin does something stupid, which is like always.” Maria reassured the brunette. “I’ll send you daily Friday quotes. I know you’ll love those.” Virginia chuckled. “I’ll just keep sharing photos with you in the DropBox.” Monique smiled. These three helped the brunette immensely with getting through her depression. It was because of them that she could now go into the next chapter of her life, unafraid of what’s to come.

Going home for what felt like the last time, Dakota could feel herself fighting back the tears. She felt too sentimental for her own good. “No, no. Sentimentalism is just unearned happiness.” She recited from an episode of some show she watched on Bravo the other day. It was a very true statement, however. This was not the last time she was going to see these people. She knew that, deep down. Besides, Maria was going to hire her for the wedding, and everyone would definitely be there for that. Smiling to herself, Dakota put the scrapbook in the last open box, before taping it shut. It would be a good first thing to see when she unpacks in her new apartment across the country. Stacking the box on top of several others, she looked around. She gave the moving company her keys already, so they know what to do with her stuff. For the next week, she was planning to sleep in her old room at Naperville, since Phillip’s funeral was coming up soon as well. And then after his funeral, she would be off to the next chapter of her life. It still felt surreal that she was doing this. Some people might call her crazy for throwing away her career. But to Dakota, it was more crazy to stay in a job or environment that made her unhappy. Happiness should come before anything else, in her ideal world.

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