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Missing You

May 30, 2008 | Category: In My Life

They would sit around the table, in tan pants and button-downs. And they would tell me about the plan. And argue about the plan. And I would sit, serenely. Listening. Bending, when need be. And ultimately, nodding. Saying "Yes, this is what we will do. It will be done. You will do your part." And they would, ultimately, nod and say "Yes. Despite all my arguments, despite my enthusiasm one way or another, I agree."

Then we would shuffle in a bundle out the door. Chit chat and empty coffee cups. Maybe head on down to the bar for a drink or over to that Chinese place. I would tug my Citibank card from my wallet, the one with no limit, to pay.

Or sometimes a vendor would, waggling his fingers at me to say he had the tab. No worries.

At the front door, home, I would kick off my heels. One, then the other. Never pantyhose or nylons. I would drop my laptop bag with a soft thud. Scoop my hair up into a scrunchie.

By the time I hit my office, she'd be fading. The senior staffer with the flashing eyes and serious agenda.

And I wouldn't miss her.

I'd be glad to be back in the light-filled enclave, with cables and phones. Able to get actual work done, away from the cubicle canyons with people popping up their heads over the half-height foam core walls. Like Meercats and Prairie Dogs- "Just one sec, Elizabeth?" they'd call.

Those seconds would snowball into hours. Every. Time.

I'd see an unfamiliar me in their eyes. A decision maker. Curved and female and maybe a little wise, but never soft. And taller, in those black pumps.

I wouldn't miss her the next day, when I'd be back in yoga pants and a ponytail.

I'd obsess on what my son had been doing while I was away. On what tragedies were smashing and crashing at home. On the little details I could never quite push out of my mind about the real estate taxes and cupcakes for the party.

One day, you know, I just quit. Like a Merry-Go-Round ride, I held on to the pole and pushed out my leg off the base. Finding just the right moment to leap. Springing into the air as the carousel spins away from under me. Landing a little wobbly on solid ground.

Still spinning a little.

And then finding my way.

The seasons have come and gone since I leaped. And now I am back there, in a tiny way. Interviewing a senior staffer for an article.

"Oh," he chuckles as we traced our lineages to find some history in common. A telecom we both worked at, long long ago. "Oh, I bet you don't miss that!"

I laugh.

And never tell him that I do. Sometimes with a yearning that makes me wobble on steady ground.

There are no perfect paths, just roads taken. And sometimes I miss the me that walked the other one. I miss her curled hair and lipsticked lips. I miss the way people stopped to talk. I miss the way she sat, actively listening. Deciding things that stay decided.

I never missed her then. But now, sometimes, I do.

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Tagged: Corporate, Mommy, Life
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We always think one thing or the other will make us happy - I know I think this way - but the truth is, nothing will *make* us happy. We need to get happy from the inside out, and that's what's so scary and tough.

Posted by: Monica C. on June 4, 2008 06:25 PM

Right there with you, missing the heels, the lipstick, the put together outfit, and the sense of fulfillment that comes with a job well done. On the other side of the coin, my kids are happy, healthy, and secure. My mother continues to remind me that women can have it "all", just not at the same time.

Posted by: Hexe on June 4, 2008 06:31 AM

Alice, Liz....

Thanks. When you write from the heart, it's hard to know if anyone will read it and understand...

Posted by: Elizabeth on May 30, 2008 10:34 AM

Amen to that. Nicely said.

Posted by: Liz on May 30, 2008 10:17 AM

"There are no perfect paths, just roads taken."

I'm so sorry that you're feeling this kind of longing, too, but so thankful that you can put it into words far better than I can. Thank you for sharing this; even though the histories that we get wistful over are different, it's amazingly helpful to hear about other people experiencing the same kinds of things.

Our cultures don't often give us much room to simultaneously miss the past while accepting it as finished - I'm waiting for it to get easier with more practice.

Posted by: alice on May 30, 2008 09:00 AM