My life had quickly turned into processing ocean water samples every day.

Lauren was becoming more and more friendly with me, and I reciprocated. It was nice that she knew some of the same people I knew, so in part, in made me feel like I knew her already. A part of me felt like she probably needed a friend too, because she was from Arizona.

We had started carpooling together which was about an hour drive there and back. Taking her car one day, and then my car the next day. We talked about her pets a lot and her foster dog that she was taking care of. She had 3 dogs and 2 cats of her own on top of fostering. I liked how she fostered animals I thought it was admirable.

On Tuesday mornings she’d have a state truck and we would have to pick up a process water at a local police station before we drove to work. Every week, a local clam dealer left us a sample of his tank water that he kept his clams in to make sure his water remained sterile.

The police station was in a huge historic building that sat at the top of a hill in the small city next to where Lauren and I lived. The building also doubled as a courthouse for small civil cases, and was also where you processed your passports. We had a couple small fridges in the back under a stairwell along with some other random equipment for samplers. Lauren had left her samples from her run there the night before too.

After a couple of weeks of carpooling she invited me to a yoga class with her at our local YMCA. I was excited because I had been wanting to try a yoga class for a while and had never actually been to one. Her husband went too and I was excited to be getting to know new people and moving on with my life. We quickly began to talk about a lot of different things on our rides in together. We talked about our pasts and some things we had in common. She seemed great, fun and caring. She would always ask me how I was doing in the way a grandmother would ask her small grandson how he was.

But something was happening inside me right from the very beginning.

When she asked me if I wanted to carpool  with her, I remember thinking shit I am going to have to be friends with this girl. I am going to be stuck with her. I had an excited feeling for maybe a second, but that soon gave way to a more of a dreadful feeling. I started noticing Lauren could be so overbearing, she was almost intrusive with her inquisitive nature, always asking me a million questions and follow up questions to how I answered questions from her. I reassured myself that she was just interested in getting to know me. After NDX, I needed constant reassurances. She is nice, I would tell myself. She’s nice, relax.

I had been so hurt by the girls at my previous job that I thought that I was just being paranoid and over-reacting.  I told Margaret at my weekly session about Lauren and how I had started doing yoga with her and how I was excited about that. But I noted that I was scared I would be shunned at this lab again. Margaret reassured me that I was still just getting over my experience back at NDX and we tried to dive deeper into that.

Work and therapy continued. As did carpooling with Lauren. We would laugh the whole way into work and we became close fast.

I started being trained with Angela for her lab. I learned I’d be helping her out on Mondays because we never really had anything going on on Mondays and Angela had a lot she could catch up on while I ran her samples.

I quickly noticed that Lauren was friends with about everyone in the lab. This concerned me, but she was so nice, that it made sense.

Lauren ended up showing me a walking trail next to the lab. It was down a private dirt road that went all the way down to a nice sitting spot on the rocks by the ocean. We would go down there together to get away from the lab. We talked about everything from books to traveling. I remember one time we were talking about traveling and where she had been and where I had been. She seemed really interested to find out where I wanted to travel and what I wanted to do with my life that I immediately trusted her as one of the good ones.

After we sat on the rocks, she brought me to where one of her friends, Phil, worked. He worked in a big building off to the left of the main building that had a garage attached to it. I learned he was the head of maintenance in the building and his white hair and big belly showed both his experience and his age. He seemed nice as Lauren was introducing him to me in his modest office right off of the garage. I saw pictures of his daughter propped up around his desk with other odds and ends. I felt awkward and wanted to leave, but maintained my friendly attitude until it was time to go. It felt weird and I felt like Lauren was forcing me to meet all these people.

Phil would pop by the lab every now and again. He was always nice and asking us what kind of trouble we were getting into. He’d always look at me and say that I was the real trouble maker and it made me laugh and feel special in a way of being noticed for my incorruptibility. It was nice. Youstis, who worked for Phil, would come in too and say that he hadn’t heard this much laughing in the lab since another person had left. Lauren decidedly agreed like she had been in a sahara desert and laughter was the water. It made me feel good that I was responsible for the laughter and the good vibes finally coming from the lab.

I remember wanting a friend so badly so that I could begin to feel  a bit more at ease at my new job and I had found one in Lauren.

I wanted to do my very best and work hard to make sure that I was accepted at my new job. I really wanted to make it work and summed up my last experience as a fluke and just because of one bitchy girl.

© Nicole Poirier

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