She'd Finally ArrivedShe’d had enough. Jeanine sank to the un-sheeted mattress, propping herself against the wall with an amalgamation of pillows and garbage bags full of clean clothes. She contemplated the disarray of boxes in front of her half-unpacked, stacked haphazardly.
On the bureau, a collection of candleholders crowded around a stack of slim volumes of poetry. A plush-toy of a penguin in a shower cap leaned precariously over the edge.
I should get up, she thought to herself. But her aching muscles disagreed. And really, there was no rush. She had all of tomorrow to unpack and organize her possessions. She needed a break she'd been hauling her belongings up three flights of stairs all day. Ryan and Sheila had helped, of course, and even taken care of returning the truck. But after they dropped off the U-Haul, they got to go home to their nice, clean apartment.
Not so for Jeanine. It was just her and her jumbled possessionsat least until the new roommate arrived on Wednesday. She rolled onto her side, propped herself up with one hand, and unbuttoned her jeans with the other. Shrugging off her T-shirt, she scooted to the edge of the bed and wriggled out of her jeans, leaning to wrap her hands around her ankles for a moment before stepping out of them.
She stopped for a moment before a full-length mirror which leaned haphazardly between cardboard boxes and the window. Brown hair with a tint of red, graceful collarbone and shoulders. The ubiquitous pouch of her belly between wide hips, the worn cotton underwear. Jeanine sighed, raised her hands above her head. Not bad for a woman of 30, she thought, noting the suggestion of ribs above a smooth stomach, the ample (but not too ample) breasts underneath the ragged cotton bra. She turned, unhooking the bra at the back as she studied her smooth white back, the rise of her buttocks "ghetto booty," her friends used to tease herand the graceful line of her legs. The slim ankles and the bare feet coated in black soot. Ugh. Time for a hot bath.
"It’s the only body I have, so I might at well learn to love it," she said aloud, and headed to the bathroom.
The June air clasped her like a warm hand as she leaned over the tub. Jeanine was still getting used to the fits and starts of weather that characterized a Boston summer. One day, steaming and hot, the next cool and cloudy. But still, she loved that she’d found this ample apartment in Cambridge on a quiet back street, only a few moments from Central Square and the pulse of the city.
She settled back in the steaming water with a groan. She had a sense of having arrived, after so many years of movement from place to place. After all those years of genteel poverty, the adjunct professorships in cold Midwestern towns, after so many endless faculty functions full of ass-kissers and sycophants, after uncounted hours in dusty libraries, after stack after stack of uninspired papers written by surly freshman, she’d finally arrived. Harvard English professor, tenure track. From here, her future spread before her like a sunlit street.
There was a patch of earth downstairs all ready for digging, an empty office with her name on it a few miles away on the Harvard campus, and a city surrounding her, pulsing with life and waiting to be discovered.