Saturday, December 22, 2012

Playing Pretend

We are in Manhattan for a few days. Thanks to the deep-pocket connections of my mother-in-law we have been hooked up with a spacious 3 bedroom penthouse in midtown, with an unbelievable view of the Chrysler building.  Tonight after a long day of toy stores, candy stores, and Christmas lights our family was walking back to our building.  The kids were tired and grouchy and we still had several blocks to go when we passed a drug store. I needed to pick up a few things that I had forgotten.  It was getting late and the sun had gone down hours earlier.  Scott asked if I wanted him to wait while I ran inside.  “Wait!” I thought, “This is like a get out of jail free card. Of course I don’t want you to wait. I would relish in a little alone time.”  He and the kids went ahead and after my shopping was completed I was back on the street, alone.  Well, not exactly alone. The streets were busy and I was soon swallowed up in the throng of business suits and skirts. It was then that my fantasy began.  I pretended I was one of them.  That’s right, you see I didn’t get married my senior year of college or start teaching after my undergraduate degree. I didn’t have my first baby at 26 and two more to follow. No, I came to New York. I went to Columbia Law School, where I finished first in my class and was immediately snatched up by JP Morgan as a young fresh tax attorney.  Granted, I worked long days that all began with an early morning trip to the gym and a bagel at my desk, but I was being compensated nicely. Especially, since I saved the company $386 million last year with my extensive knowledge of tax loopholes.  I would come home to my posh apartment every evening after a dinner with friends and be greeted by my warm-hearted door man named Felix. He would always ask me the same question, “How was your day beautiful?”  To which I would merely respond with a blush, because despite my rock hard Pilates body and my exorbitant salary I was still very humble.  So, humble that I was going to slip Felix a thousand bucks on Christmas Eve as a gesture of gratitude for his phenomenal job at opening my door.  It was in the midst of this extravagant slip from reality that I found myself face to face with the actual doorman of our borrowed apartment.  His warm-hearted greeting sounded a little gruff, when he exclaimed-“Mam, where do you think you’re going?”  My reply was interrupted by the peal of laughter around the corner.  The sounds were unmistakably my children.  I said, “I belong with them.”  And I was right, I did belong with them.  We piled onto the elevator together.  My two year old was crying because she was cold and wanted her blanket. My six year old was convinced that he was “literally dying of thirst.” While, my eight year old was rapid firing questions at me like a professional auctioneer.  About this time I caught a glimpse of myself in the elevator mirror. My reflection didn’t exactly reflect the rock-hard Pilates body in a pencil skirt and stilettos that I had been imagining. In fact, my mascara was smeared under my eyes. I had chocolate on my neck and I was wearing a pair of jeans from Costco. Yet, as our little family began ascending in the elevator, somewhere between the 16th and 27th floor, I had an epiphany.  My bonus from Mr. Morgan would come and go, even my Jimmy Choo’s and Fendi bag would wear out, but this was forever.  I had made the right decision 13.5 years ago, not that I ever really doubted that. This was more than happiness. This was joy. This was real. This was eternal. This was my reality and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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