I sit at a table for two by myself in a Starbucks in Houston, Texas. I down my double shot of expresso and walk over to have some lunch at Madeline's, my favorite spot for french onion soup. I slurp my soup and eat my salad head down reading a memoir called With or Without You. It's Saturday, but I have a brief due on Monday so I have to go into the office. Then, there's the Gala for the Arts benefit tonight.
I made partner and I live in a sparkling modern penthouse in midtown Houston. I drive a Jaguar. This is the life I always dreamed of while going to school and waiting tables. This is what the years of struggle were all about. But, why do I feel so empty?
It could be because I am all alone. I have friends here in Houston, and three black cats, but my family is in Southern California. Dad died some years ago and I barely had time to fly home for the funeral. For the next couple of years, I worked through the grief and sadness, working eighty hours a week at times. I was a human robot, a legal machine.
My sisters call me every week but I am abrupt with them. Mom is still alive but she lives with my twin sister Jackie in Palm Springs.
I thought I would be married by now, with kids and all that, but when Adrian got into UCSF dental school three years ago, I didn't follow.
Taking the California Bar seemed tiring. Our more than a decade together fell away and we drifted apart and finally broke up. I think about Adrian often. I see his thick black hair and hazel brown eyes in my mind's eye and think about the way he had of always making me feel safe and secure. Some things pass you by. You should grab those moments because if you don't, they are gone forever and it's as if you live in an alternate universe of your very own creation.
I leave Starbucks and walk through the outdoor shopping area by Rice University. I can buy whatever I want, but what I want can't be bought. I look at the sparkly dresses in the expensive boutiques but know nothing will fit. It's Lane Bryant or the plus size department at Macy's.
I walk into Lane Bryant. "Can I help you find anything?" a plus size redhead asks me in a perky Southern twang. "No, I'm just browsing," I reply walking out of the store. I don't want to shop at the fat girl store anymore. Tears blur my eyes. I don't want this lonely workaholic existence. I step off the curb and trip in my expensive Manalos that fat girls should not wear and my head hits the pavement.
I wake up in a comfy king size bed. Adrian snores beside me. Our two shih tzus Frodo and Chewbaca lay on the bed, one on each side of me. I walk downstairs and make myself a cup of coffee. Framed punk rock posters adorn the walls. There is a pile of concert tickets to be used. The house is huge and decorated like I always wanted my house to be, a mix of eclectic and modern. I see my deputy public defender card on the coffee table along with a poster announcing my live nonfiction reading.
We don't have kids, that did pass us by, but we have a mother in law in our downstairs bedroom and my mom visits often as do my sisters and I have weekly meet ups with my best friends from high school Tracy and Melinda. Adrian and I hang out in the jacuzzi most nights listening to the Cure and The Smiths watching the stars.
Is this really my life? Did I really make it here. Yes, it is.
The other life was just a bad dream.