Happy Belated Birthday

Cityscape by Joan Mitchell
Cityscape by Joan Mitchell
A recent email to a friend in London who works in publishing. Always supportive of my writing, she reads long updates from time to time. We share our plans (or attempts to make them), and updates from the work front. She was one of the first people I spoke to when I lost my job and this email picks up from there.

From: Betty

To: —–

Date: May 21, 2017


Hey —–,

When I started this email I was in Heathrow, waiting for a plane to Barcelona where Tom and I met our friends for what was supposed to be a “I’ve finally quit my job”/my friend completing her Master’s in Social Work trip, but now only the latter reason applies. But as with any trips you can throw in a ton of sort-of-but-barely-relevant reasons:

“My 31st birthday!” “Our engagement!” “I’m not a homeless bum, despite having just been let go again!”

My actual birthday was spent in Orange County and perfectly tuned to the new 31-year old me. My parents and I had home-cooked crab with my grandpa. At 92, he hasn’t got much of an appetite but for some reason loves crab and can barely stop himself from eating more than he’s comfortable with. My parents buy live crabs from a Chinese grocer and steam them right under our noses. It always makes me uncomfortable, seeing my dad push the anxious crabs down into the large hissing pot…but once I crack in I always feel sorry for the people who’ve only ever had crabs out of tins.

Life outside the cul-de-sac has been moving forward a little too quickly. Not just the wedding planning (hope you guys are willing to take the little tyke to Taiwan next spring!), but work as well.

Yes! I’m working! Consistently, I might add, as a freelance copywriter. I have two regular, well-paying clients and a handful of semi-regular clients, most of whom found me after ending frustrated contracts with cheaper but less efficient writers who, one of my clients told me, just “don’t get it.”

Do I “get it?” I’d like to think so. There’s not much I do get about corporate America but I sure can help you put whatever I do get into words.

Is this what I want to do long-term? I don’t know, but it’s not a bad set-up. I am making decent money, have good relationships with my clients and, from my two last jobs, have learned the value of over-communicating. Also, here, in my “wheelhouse,” I have no problem being proactive, as managers love to say when describing their dream minion.

Freelancing is more appealing now too, as Tom and I think (mostly in circles), about next steps. Staying in New York? Dunno. Moving to Australia? Maybe. LA? More likely, but…who knows? Now with the wedding and a potential kid of our own not too far away, it seems like freelancing, if done well and right, can be a difficult but rewarding balancing act for someone like me.

As to what you said about wanting to achieve more, I am in the same boat. And we both know I’m not talking about copywriting. I finally grasp, however thinly, what it means to roll-with-it. I’ve spent most of the past 20 years battling anxiety about too many things. School, dropping out of school, finding a job, applying to graduate school, dating, graduation, working, getting fired, job-hunting, getting engaged? WHEN? What’s the timeline? What’s the plan??

Yet in the months before Tom proposed, it occurred to me that I was more ambitious than I ever gave myself credit for and that it probably was okay to not be engaged even though I thought it was about time for a long time, that I should apply my mental energies questioning how I could improve my writing rather than when Tom would ask and what kind of ring I wanted.

Though now a lot of mental energy is spent on wedding planning. I am sorry to say, all we have is the location and approximate time. London would have been an awesome destination wedding, but when I brought it up to my parents my dad’s immediate reaction was, “But who’s going to pick us up from the airport?” It wasn’t going to be worth the headache.

As for children, I’m sorry I totally jumped the gun and assumed boy for you guys…but yes! You do give off a boy vibe! At least for the first one. I can definitely see you with a daughter, but I’d be pretty surprised if you popped out a girl for the first.

You blink and they’re there. And then you’re a mother with a baby. Then a toddler. And then whoa, you’re rounding fifty and wondering why maybe your kid is great at tennis but cannot for the life of them write a decent paragraph. No? Is that just me?

Just kidding. I’m not worried about your kids (or too much yet, about my own non-existent ones). Yours will certainly be readers. And if not readers, than mathematicians/physicist/or whatever it is that —– does (no, he does not need to explain it to me, again). And if not that, then excellent break-dancers. Or a combination of all three.

Anyway. I miss you too. Besos from Spain! And a wistful wave from Heathrow on our way back! Trust me: I am ALWAYS planning to MOVE to London in my head…and if our plans stay open enough, who knows, it might happen and we can take our kids picnicking in Hyde Park and window shopping in Mayfair and summering in La Costa Brava, where we are now. It is cheap and gorgeous. Makes Cinque Terre look like a crowded, over-priced backwater. Well, that might be a bit harsh. But yes, #goals!

Here’s to seeing you guys sooner rather than later.


*Feature image from The Art Institute of Chicago shared for educational and noncommercial purpose. (c) The Estate of Joan Mitchell 

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