“So how are you doing?” Kathy asked as she swiveled her chair my way.
“I’m good,” I tried to sound honest as I took a seat on the sofa in her office. “I just wanted to update you on some things going on in my life.”
“I’m pregnant,” I said firmly, “and I wanted to tell you before you found out from anyone else.”
“Is Patrick the father?” she asked. I nodded a “yes” and a thin smile emerged on her face. “Are you in love with him?”
“And is he your best friend?”
“Well, congratulations sweetie!” she blessed happily as she stood up to give me a warm hug. “You will love being a mother. It is just the most precious and joyful experience for any woman to have.” With that, my lower lip started to tremble and I so didn’t want to cry in front of my boss’ boss but I couldn’t help it. Tears flowed like water coming out of a dam on my face and Kathy handed me a box of tissue paper.
“It’s okay to feel emotional right now. This is a very special time in your life,” she tried to comfort.
“I know. So Patrick and I are planning on getting married soon,” I volunteered the information. “There’s just a lot going on right now.” I knew there were a lot of hormonal things going on in my body, too but the uncontrollable crying was still from feeling so uncertain about everything. About the baby, about Patrick, about life.
“You know what, Missy? 24 years ago, I was in the very same position as you. I was very young, working, and got myself pregnant with a man I was dating. My father was so upset that he wanted me to get an abortion. My mother, on the other hand, was the only person who told me if I wanted to, I could just have the baby. She said ‘Kathy, you can have the baby no matter what anyone else says or thinks.’ That was all I needed to hear and I chose to have my baby. Well, I married the father anyway and had two more kids with him,” she shared with me. Kathy reached for a picture of a beautiful brunette on her desk and showed it to me. “This is Caroline, the baby I had when I was 22. And she is my everything, my heart…” Kathy’s eyes welled up looking at her daughter’s picture and I cried some more. “See, you’re making me all emotional, too,” she joked. You can just have the baby, Missy.
“I just…I don’t know. I feel so guilty. Like, I have this little being inside of me and I don’t feel anything for it yet. I don’t feel like it’s real and I don’t love it or anything,” I confessed about my baby. My “It.”
“And that’s perfectly fine, Missy. You have a long road ahead before you meet this little one and things will turn around for you,” Kathy encouraged me. “So is the word out yet in the office? Can we all officially congratulate you two?”
“Um…we are slowly getting the word out. It’s sort of hard to hide when I’m feeling so sick all the time. Oh, and another thing—am I still on track for getting promoted to the writing position?” Ah, yes. I remembered now why I needed to talk to Kathy in the first place.
“Yep,” she answered with no hesitation. “Just keep up your good work and we will figure out what this means for you when you take off for maternity leave. We have a lot of ground to cover before then so don’t worry about it too much now.” She stood up again to give me another hug before I left our meeting. Like telling the HR director (my godmother), I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders after disclosing my baby news to the head of my department and was relieved that at least my pregnancy didn’t seem like it would get in the way of my corporate career.
* * *
Corporate life…it’s funny how I ended up in the very place I vowed I would never find myself working no matter how dire my circumstances are. I’ve always hoped to be able to liken myself one day to some variation of a tortured artist, opting for a hedonistic lifestyle confined in a live-work loft in Downtown Los Angeles and pondering over red wine the bleak and twisted fate of the human condition.
And I managed to be sort of that person for a while; right after I’d graduated from college, I spent the first couple of months self-indulging in my writing and photography, leaving my apartment only at nights to work closing shifts at a local coffee house. My boyfriend at the time was an equally yoked daydreamer, telling me on certain days he was going to write the next Oscar-worthy screenplay and on other occasions claiming he’d somehow make the big leagues in baseball. He didn’t even have a laptop and his baseball bat was collecting dust in his childhood home.
When I received a call from my godmother one Thursday afternoon in July about a temporary position at her company, I agreed to move an hour across town for the job only because it gave me an easy out from a relationship heading nowhere a mile a minute. I didn’t leave my old life in search of a career or love; I left simply because I was too polite to break up with somebody.
I started my assignment the following Wednesday, cold-calling clients to promote a conference we were putting on, and the day after that, I met Patrick.
My godmother Kristine and I were in the break room grabbing our mid-morning cup of coffee when Patrick quickly poked his head in to see if there were any snacks lying around. I almost wouldn’t have even noticed him had not Kristine deliberately introduce us over our piping hot mugs.
“Oh Patrick, did you meet my goddaughter Missy? She just started working this week for the marketing department,” Kristine said. “Missy, this is Patrick. He works in sales.” Patrick and I exchanged quick and forced “hello’s” and he returned to scavenging the cupboards for leftover food.
“Well, nice to meet you,” I tried to be nice and Patrick left soon after, saying “Seems like everyone at the company is brought onboard by someone they know” as he walked out the door. I didn’t think much of Patrick—decked out in his gray V-neck sweater and dark-washed jeans—except he was by far the rudest person I have met at the company so far. While the other employees at least feigned interest in where I came from and what I was doing at work, Patrick couldn’t even spend a full minute in a room with me.
“He’s the VP of Sales’ nephew, which was what he meant by that comment. He came to California from New York just to work here,” Kristine explained.
“That’s cool,” I replied, and with not much more to say I added, “He seems like the only person here around my age.”
Kristine’s face went white and she couldn’t hide the frown that was forming on her face as she pursed her lips tightly together.
“He’s not someone for you to make friends with,” she warned sternly.
“Why?” I wasn’t planning on going out of my way to be friends with Patrick but I was still curious what was so “wrong” with him.
* * *
I managed to avoid crossing paths with Patrick for the next couple of weeks since we worked at opposite ends of the office. I had already completely forgotten about him when I yelled for someone to hold the elevator downstairs in the lobby so I could catch a lift to the seventh floor. I scrambled in past the closing doors, looked up at the only other person inside, and “Oh…hi. It’s Patrick…right?”
To be continued...