Accounting for Time

Once Ben and I broke up and went our separate ways, things got tough. I could no longer afford the townhome we were living in so I moved to a dinky one bedroom in the same complex. It seemed like, overnight, my coworkers got mad at me. You see, we worked together, all of us. Me, Ben and the baby’s father, Michael. (names?)Yes. It WAS awkward.

It was also the first time I’d ever experienced social backlash.

I had been doing pretty well at the company, a small biomedical firm in the southern suburbs.  Was promoted from receptionist to Marketing Assistant, and felt I was making some really good money for my age. But as soon as Ben and I broke up, things changed.

I felt like the bad guy for dumping Ben, and was treated like it – in no uncertain terms. My day care bill increased, Callum’s father stopped paying child support (verbal agreement), and – as a result, I had to take him to court.  I couldn’t afford to take him to court, so, I had to appeal to public assistance. Public assistance told me that I made too much money for legal aid, and maybe I should quit my job and go on AFDC. They would certainly be able to help.

So I did.

Looking back, it seemed that my boyfriends changed when my job did, and vice versa.  With Phil, I had been working in Property Management. Ben was the bio company, Kelly was the envelope company; I dated Doug while working in computer retail sales – both were short-lived relationships.  I was working at a local radio station when I met Greg – he was at a local TV station.

You know when I think about it, the only thing that remained the same was the job description. Oh sure, the title was different for each company, but basically, all I did was administrative support. Well, and some type of accounting.

It was like I couldn’t get away from it.

It seemed I was always being handed special projects. Forecasting, or material requirement planning or job costing – and always with the same line.

“Hey, you’re a smart girl, can you help me out with a special project?”

And the work would pile on.

Sometimes I was given training. (It was always a new thing, I always learned something new. Read: lots of mistakes.) Sometimes I wasn’t given training.

But everything I did, was under the direction of my boss. Well, whoever my boss was at the time.

Tweak this here, add this there. 

I hate accounting, I can barely balance my own checkbook. 

Maybe I developed a reputation – I’m not sure. But I guess, perception IS everything .

I later found out that my son’s father had quit sending money, because he knew that I had just gotten back from vacation, (he took the boy), and also saw that I had a new dress for some work occasion or another.  I didn’t feel the need to explain that my mother had purchased the dress, AND the plane ticket.

So fuck me, right?

That year, all of us girls headed to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to cheer on my little sister at an annual dance competition.

We had met some interesting folks dancing at a beach club, and they invited us back to their house to party. Of course we went. Me, my sister, Georgia and her friend, Tina.

To be honest, Georgie and Tina could always drink me under the table.  And it seemed that night, as soon as we arrived at the house, I was looking for a bed to pass out in.  After 10 years of drinking, I was starting to figure out my limits.  I do think I got sick, because I remember being exceptionally embarrassed the next day.

But from what I can remember, there was much game playing – charades and improvisation. Music and drinking and cavorting.  All quite innocent.

But you know, I was also seriously enjoying the bed sheets I was wrapped up in.  In the wee hours of morning, I happened to glance over and noticed someone was sleeping next to me.

I think I passed out again.  I can’t remember. I can’t remember if we got naked.

Twenty years is a long time…

The next morning, I heard a baby; and found myself gingerly walking downstairs to the kitchen.  Some folks were sitting at the table, waking up, and my bed mate was feeding his baby girl.

Baby. Girl.

I remember enjoying the sun, and thinking, this is what I want. A life. A house, a family. A husband. I wondered where the baby’s mother was. Whitney, the dad – told me that she had passed away in childbirth.

The other folks were getting up to go, and one gent asked if I wanted to come along.

“Where are you going?”

“We’re going to take some video shots of the beach.”

“Oh, cool, but…  I need to find those girls, and get them back to the hotel.”  I wanted to stay.

“Your sister is so fun,” one girl said, “she has the best stories.”

“Oh, Lord,” I mumbled.

I glanced over at the guy she was kind of hanging out with the night before, he was nodding and smiling.

“We like the stories.”

I laughed and he told me his name was Josh.  Then I asked if we could all keep in touch, or maybe they laughed and asked if we could all keep in touch – I can’t remember that detail.

But I remember our long-distance phone conversations.

Chatting with Whitney first, then later Josh…

Josh had quite the imagination, genius really.

Something to behold.

It still is.

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