02. The Peter Pan Syndrome

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NATHAN JUNG LAUGHED as he sat down at the small, quaint café. "Wait, what?" He asked as he took a sip of his iced coffee. "She was watering her plants?"

Theo nodded, drinking his coffee. "Yep, she was just watering her plants at eleven p.m. God, and she was wearing a hat! I-I don't understand why she would want to water her plants when the sun wasn't even up or-or the fact that she wore a hat when it was so dark."

"Bro, she's weird," Nathan said, chewing on his straw. His eyes brightened as he snapped his fingers. "4D!"

"What?" Theo asked with confusion lacing his voice. "4D?"

"Yeah, 4D. Dude, she has what we Koreans call a 4D personality." Nathan exclaimed as he nodded.

"Care to explain what that means?"

"I was getting to that." Nathan snapped as he smiled. "4D is basically a Korean slang for when we describe someone who's quirky and weird and someone who'd, I dunno water her plants when it's eleven p.m. at night."

Theo slowly nodded as he looked at the table. "Okay, so how is that supposed to help me?"

"I don't know, I just wanted to tell you that your neighbor has a 4D personality. What other crazy things has she done since the last time I saw you?"

"Well, that happened the night I moved in. The next day, I actually went out and introduced myself to my neighbors. The house on the right of me is empty, which isn't a surprise. But the guy down the street is pretty cool, there's a grandma who lives a few houses down from me, and there's also this young couple, too."

"So you basically have no one to talk to."

"Pretty much," Theo admitted with a frown. "But anyways, I met my neighbors and when I knocked on her door, she didn't answer at all. But the weird thing is I kept hearing noises in the house, so she probably just ignored me, right?"

"Sounds about right," Nathan said, leaning back with his arms folded across his chest. "Anything else odd?"

"Yeah, and then the next day after that when the mailman knocked on her door, she seriously just stuck out her hand and reached for her mail. Just her hand, dude. She didn't even bother to look where she was grabbing. The mailman had to put her mail in her hands for her because she obviously couldn't see."

"Man, she's pretty weird." Nathan made a face, trying to decode her behaviors. "Well, like I mentioned before, she has a 4D personality. You're just going to have to deal with it because that's just the way she is. Why are you so interested in her, anyway? The girl doesn't like you, so what? You don't always have to be friends with your neighbors. Me? I've been living in my apartment for two and half years and I still don't know the people living on the same floor as me nor do I want to know."

"That's messed up." Theo commented, taking a long sip of his coffee, obviously shooting his friend a I'm-totally-judging-you-look.

"What? I just don't feel the desire to get to know my surrounding peers. I'm not here to make friends, Theo, I'm here to just survive in this cruel world - every man for himself."

"You're messed up, you know that?" Theo asked, getting up.

"It's a Korean mentality but hey don't judge me, you're the one who's obsessing over some girl who obviously doesn't want to know you," Nathan said, walking out of the café with Theo.

"Touché," Theo raised his eyebrows, nodding approvingly. "Yeah, I guess you're right. I'm being creepy for just watching her every move."

"You now noticed?"

"Yeah, I have better things to worry about, like finding a new job," Theo stated solemnly. "My search for a new job is completely fruitless."

"Bro, calm down, you're not dying," Nathan said, waving his friend's sadness away. "I actually saw this clinic near your neighborhood on my way here and it's looking for a new receptionist."

"Are you saying I should work as a receptionist at a clinic for the rest of my life?" Theo asked, his face darkening at the thought of his sad fate.

"No, of course not! I'm telling you to work there for the time being until you find an actual job. You need to make some income in order to pay for food and your rent, don't you?"

"Yeah, I guess you're right. Oh, man, I really need to get my act together."

"Damn right you do. Get over your neighbor and start planning for your next job."

"Have you found a job yet?"

"No, not yet. It's hard to get employed nowadays! I'm just lucky my tutoring job is really working out for me."

"Well, that's because you're Asian."

"It's true – right when you put on flyers and newspapers that you're an Asian graduate from UCLA who majored in math – all the Asian parents call me. I've been applying to middle school job positions so far but, I haven't heard back yet."

"Well, at least you have places to apply to. I majored in Psychology and I'm a graduate from UCLA but the first job I land is at some IT company. Now, I'm unemployed and I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing with my life." Theo revealed, drowning in his sorrows and sighs. "My life is a mess ... man, how did I manage to lose my job and the love of my life all in the same week?"

Nathan sighed, coming to a stop as he turned to face his friend. He placed a hand over Theo's shoulder and squeezed it for comfort. "Abby was obviously not the girl you were supposed to spend the rest of your life with and that customer service job at that IT company was definitely not your calling." He said, grinning. "Don't you see? This is where your life will change – for the better. Have you ever thought about going back to school to become a psychiatrist? Apply for that job at the clinic and just see how the job is over there and maybe you might want to get a sudden urge to go back to school to finish your education. But if you don't get the urge to go back to school, then so be it. You'll be earning some money and you'll still have time to think about what you really want to do."

Theo took a long look at his friend as he drew out a long breath. "When did life get so hard? Life wasn't this difficult back in middle school."

Nathan laughed, throwing his arm around Theo's neck as they walked forward. "Those were the glory days! Life got hard when we decided to grow up and be adults." He said, shaking his head.

"It sucks being adults."

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WHEN THEO ARRIVED home, he lingered in front of his fence as he cast a long look towards the girl's house. There was the slightest dim light peeking out through the curtains but other than that, it looked quite dead. He sighed and walked into his house.

"I need to get my shit together." He stated firmly, staring down at the sad mattress on the floor of his bedroom. Just as he sat down on his mattress with his back against the wall, his phone began to ring. Theo looked down at the caller ID and frowned when he saw the name. Hesitating to pick up or not, he finally did. "Hey, mom." He answered with a sigh. "Yeah, I'm doing good ... how are you? Oh, that's great." He faked a small laugh, rubbing his eyes. "No, I'm just tired ... I, uh, I came back from work." He lied followed by a sigh as he heard his mom's scream of joy. "Yeah, it's just this job at a clinic, it's nothing much. Uh, mom, I better get going. Take care," Just after twenty seconds, Theo hung up the phone with a heavy heart as he stared down at his phone. "I need to grow up and find a job." He concluded, licking his dry lips as he pulled out his laptop.

+ + +

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