My friend and I were sharing a cab to mid-town in NYC. I muttered something about how nice it would be to stay in one of the fancy hotels we were driving by. He said, in all seriousness “you could” and gave me his pointed stare that said a million more words than he would actually utter.
We’d had enough long, drunken conversations at our downtown bar for me to understood what he was saying. I was outgoing, in my early 30s, had a master’s degree, people found me funny. My hair was still red, my body attractive enough to waltz down to the Meatpacking District perusing the crowd until I met a sweet Wall Street Banker who would buy me a multi-million dollar penthouse.
I’d never have to worry again.
I even toyed with the idea of being an escort - not the kind that has sex because as you know by now, I'm particular about the partner - but the kind that went out with a rich business man for an evening as his “cultured date.”
Women that could hold intelligent conversations and still serve as arm candy were hot commodities in Manhattan, teeming with wealthy businessmen who require presentable evening companions.
I could make bank by just conversing.
Of course, in the end, I couldn’t do it. Damn fucking morals. I would have been so good at it too.
I popped the taxi door open and gave my friend a steely stare while I retorted, “Where’s the challenge in that?” He gave a small smile because he knew that was going to be my response as I slammed the door and headed into Grand Central.
When you don’t come from money and you’re a woman, you’re VERY aware of what your options in life are.
It would have been easy. I had the connections, the right personality, the work ethic. I could have risen up through corporate America. I could have married rich.
I know my privileged Jewish ass could have had a completely different life.
To not end up in my parents downstairs, cash-poor, sick, and trying to survive “in the system.”
I’m sure many have wondered why - when given the choice - I take the more difficult road.
In my defense, I did try a couple of times to be a regular person! Find a 9-to-5 job and a 9-to-5 guy. I really did.
I’ve told you before, though. Every time I’ve tried to get off this strange path of mine, something happens to plop me back on it.
Regular has and never will be my destiny.
Let’s face it: I don't fit into *regular* anyway.
My wildness, my thorns, my mouth. Sometimes I wonder if trying to stuff my true self into what society said I should be is what made me sick.
Most of my “safe” options required playing by a certain set of rules. Keeping my mouth shut about certain things.
I might be bossy, bitchy, impatient, codependent, loud, irritating, self-involved, neurotic, short-tempered with a sharp tongue.
But I will not fucking lie. I will not pretend. I will not bullshit.
This is one of the reasons kids and teenagers like and trust me.
They can always smell a fraud.
It just sucks that our society doesn’t reward women who are brave enough to go their own way.
No, we end up begging for disability. Fighting to stay alive in a system that does not reward the road less traveled.
I look back on that healthy, able-bodied woman launching her career in New York City and think: if you could do it all over again, what would you do?
Would you play it safe?
Or, would you do the same all over again? Even knowing all the pain you’d end up suffering? But that you’d also be in a position to help….
Blue pill? Or red pill? (For those non-Matrix fans, blue pill keeps you asleep and red pill makes you aware.)
Always the red pill.
Always the more difficult road.
It’s just how I’m hard-wired.
I mean, what’s the point of this life if it’s all about comfort, giving myself what I want, when I want it, all the time?
As Emma Gonzalez said about the adults "mine, mine, mine."
American culture, so…indulgent.
In order to let go of the past, I have to stop wondering if I would change it.
For however long I’m still here, I’m going to make it count. And I don’t mean money or followers.
I mean REALLY MAKE *IT* COUNT.
Help as many people as I can while I can. That will make me happy on my deathbed. That’s a number I’d be proud of counting at end of life.
That's a challenge I'll take.
Yeah. I can accept my life decisions knowing that’s the number I’ll be thinking about when things go south.
Now. If only everyone else thought about that number too…imagine the world we could live in….