Her community college graduation was a minor ceremony to Kitty, yet all of her friends were there to cheer her on. As a college senior at a university, Kitty wanted to walk at her graduation but felt she'd look a fool because no one was there to share the moment with her. Every attempt to re-spark a social life in Chicago seemed to work against her. The single interaction she had outside of school was at her internship for an economy hotel in the city. She mostly shadowed the manager, only when he was behind he'd allow her to act as his assistant. Ironically he thought she enjoyed her work when she was with guests, in actuality Kitty was just glad to talk to anyone, even if it was a person making unrealistic demands or complaining about the amenities. The situation resulted in Kitty being hired as a junior concierge directly out of school. She was proud of her career path now that she followed through with it. Too bad her personal life was awash.
Although her job could be transferred to anywhere she pleased, for the most part, she chose Chicago as her place of residence. The home that she rented was a proper single room in a highrise close enough to allow her to walk to work. Still, she had fallen out of contact with her former school mates and at times she missed Marnie. Writing to Pam did not fill her need for companionship as she often had to omit details of her personal life to avoid making Pam frustrated. Kitty was so lonely in fact, she was reprimanded for taking on too many shifts at work. To fill her time Kitty tended to take up side hobbies like crafting and yoga classes. Kitty also learned as much about etiquette and refinement as she could in order to be a better employee. She had never known how rough she was until her etiquette coach pointed to her hacking into a steak in the mirror of a formal dining room during a lesson. Kitty also put her paychecks into her appearance, something she decided on her own as she did not want to repeat her dating mistake of attracting layabouts and moochers perpetually. For all of the positive things going for her, Kitty was never contented with any of her success. There was always the next thing she was too focused on to enjoy the fruits of her labor in the present. Her new project would be to upgrade from the three-star hotel she was currently working at to a four-star hotel and so on. Her goal would require her to also learn at least one other language, plus to continue to learn the intricacies of the hospitality industry. For Kitty the task of forging her hopes into achievements kept the sadness away from her consciousness superficially, it simply wasn't always enough to banish it completely.
Like many nights this one being no different, it was quiet when Kitty was walking to her apartment from work. Her feet were throbbing from being in her patent leather black high heels all day and her tightly tied bun was making her scalp numb. Kitty always tried to look as professional as she could when she was out in the city. She had a secret fear that a guest would bump into her and complain to her hirer ups if she were not composed. She still had that brisk walk about her as she went along as she did in her younger years. Only now she did not have her head down or her shoulders slumped. These days her face was looking straight ahead and her shoulders were pulled back to emphasize the height she didn't have.
Trying to make her way home quickly to rest on her thrift store pastel green sofa before a re-run of Project Runway came on, Kitty passed a pale man slightly older than her outside of a restaurant. She paid no mind to him, but he called to her anyway saying, "wait what's your hurry, you almost knocked right into me." Kitty stopped to address him fearing he could be a guest even though she knew she was nowhere near him when she passed by, "Pardon me, sir. I'm truly sorry, I apologize." The man laughed a little at Kitty's over-eager response to his initiated dialog. He jogged in front of her. "Kitty, I like that. Your name is really Kitty?" Kitty looked down at her unbuttoned trenchcoat, realizing he was reading her name tag. "Yes, it is. It's not short for anything, my parents were just free-spirited. Well good evening sir." She continued on. "Wait you didn't get my name." He said as she tried to pass. "How rude of me, whom do I have the pleasure of speaking with?" Kitty was using her best work voice as she spoke. "My name is Gavin, Gavin Alton." He lifted his chin up as he said it. "It was lovely to have met you, Mr. Alton. Good evening to you sir." Kitty tried to begin her beeline for her home once more when Gavin went on "You don't have to call me 'sir'. Just 'Gavin'." Kitty blinked wondering if he was ever going to catch on that she was merely being polite. "I'll be sure to remember that Gavin, can I help you with anything?" She was trying to end the conversation as gently as she could without making a bad impression. "No, I'm trying to figure you out." Kitty felt like she had put enough effort into Mr. Alton. "Not to be too brief, but I am on my way to an engagement if you'll excuse me please." Kitty walked off after, mentally rehashing if she had been too abrupt with him in an anxiety spiral that haunted her all the rest of the night.
The next day on her shift, she had the task of reworking the housekeeping schedule as two maids had switched their holiday availability and another had quit with no notice. She had submitted the changes to her boss for approval before going home on her usual route. The night was chilly with a full moon that shown on her as she took each step. Once more outside of the same restaurant, Mr. Gavin Alton was standing alone. Kitty noticed him this time because he was facing the sidewalk and wearing a similar grey suit as he had the night before. Knowing he was staring at her as she passed by, Kitty greeted him saying "Hello, Mr. Alton." He walked with her "Hello, Kitty. How was your day? Are you off to another 'engagement'?" She tried to think of a way to put him off of his interest in her, but also to avoid burning a bridge in case he complained to her work. "Not tonight. I'm on my way home." She wished she hadn't told him where she was going. She didn't want him to follow her into her building. "I see. You know I waited for you tonight. I want to ask you out on a date." Kitty thought to herself that she did want to see someone who at least looked like they had a job. Gavin was not her type though, he had a wiry frame and apparently thought it was normal to pick women up on the street. Realistically though, she hadn't dated anyone since a few one-night stands after she graduated the year before. She didn't like it but he was her only opportunity in a long time for a partner. She tried to seem more interested than she was, and replied: "I have time for coffee this weekend." Gavin suggested the coffee shop by Buckingham Fountain, a place Kitty knew well. They parted ways after exchanging numbers. She made it home in time to watch her rerun.
Hopping off of the train to Millennium Park, Kitty hoped that she hadn't made a bad decision. She tugged at her twofer dress and cardigan as she approached the coffee shop in nervous energy. Gavin was already there when she arrived. He looked like a productive person. She disagreed with his hair cut not being short enough, but he was not distasteful by social standards. On their date, Kitty learned that he went to Northwestern University and now works at a corporate bank in the investing department. Kitty glossed over her dodgy family history but did admit that she went to a community college before finishing with a degree in hospitality management at Roosevelt University. He joked that she must see all kinds of ridiculous things in her line of work, which she didn't know was an insult or not. They walked around for much of the afternoon until she was tired and made the excuse that she had to give her fictitious cat ear medicine. Gavin offered to drive her home, but she declined saying that she was planning to pick up some things at the grocery store on the way. He leaned in for a kiss, which Kitty returned with a peck back. She wanted to like him, but there was no chemistry for her toward him. As for Gavin, he called her twice before she got home and left a message on her voicemail to make plans for their next date.
That night Kitty laid in bed alone, wondering if she should get an actual cat so as not to have to make up a story to kill off her made-up pet if things continued on between her and Gavin. She thought that there must be something wrong with her to blow off a seemingly good catch like he was. She worried he might be another Stafford. It was odd to her that she thought of Stafford so much even though he had been out of her life for years now. Kitty dipped to her inner conspiracy theorist by questioning if Gavin was hiding some terrible secret like being married or a criminal of some kind. Before she fell asleep that night she had two separate thoughts, one being that she could be alone for the rest of her life if she keeps being picky and the other being that to date this man was to settle until someone better came around if they ever did. In the morning Kitty saw Gavin's phone number in her missed calls and pushed dial.