While being a writer is fabulous, it doesn't quite pay the bills yet. Surely someday when I'm sitting pretty on the New York Times bestseller list, I will consider being a full time writer / stay at home mom. (A girl can dream!) I will balance play dates with book tours, birthday parties with talk show appearances, and my tall, gorgeous, successful-in-his-own-right husband and our adorable children with my growing fan base of dedicated readers. I'll have a peaceful little writer's corner decorated in shabby chic where my tea and books will be stacked on shelves and inspirational quotes will line the walls.
Until then, I work in an office.
I love my day job. I really do. I'm the luckiest girl in the whole world because I truly believe that what I do matters. I make a difference in the lives of children without having to return to teaching in an underfunded classroom. I get to write programs for a fantastic organization who appreciates me and supports me in every way they can. The best / worst part? I work with all women.
*Note: this is a slight exaggeration. The IT guy, the security guy, and the custodian are men. Other than them, it's an estrogen fest.
When I first took the job, my mother warned me: "You'll never find a husband working at that office!" Well I wasn't going to find a husband being a pre-school teacher either, and this office doesn't require me to wipe anyone else's nose, so it's definitely an upgrade. Also, I don't come home smelling like apple juice and sandbox while wiping the paint off my shirt, scrubbing the glue out of my hair, and picking the PlayDough out of my shoes. Like I said, upgrade.
I've been in my office for a year now, but I'll never forget my first day there. I was hired at the same time as another woman, so we took the tour and did all our paperwork together. Over our "welcome lunch" she told me she was fortysomething and married with two kids. I shared that I was thirtysomething and divorced / single. (I never know if divorce upsets people, so that's my wait-and-see tidbit of information.) She immediately made it her mission to find me a husband. A good husband. One with a job and a house and benefits who wanted children and would provide the life I deserve so I could stay home with my babies and bake cookies and enjoy being a wife and mother. Where do I sign up?
I should also mention that this Colleague is Sicilian. As such, she's a pint-sized pushy little thing who always gets her way. If you want a job done, give it to her. She'll tackle any problem, overcome any obstacle, and she'll do it before the deadline and offer you a bowl of pasta when she's through. Basically, we became instant friends.
Colleague assured me that we would find me a husband through her grandmother, the matchmaker. When a ninety-six year old Sicilian woman who speaks no English offers to set you up with your future husband without even having met you, you say yes. Why? Because I was terrified of saying no!
A few days went by and I teased Colleague about "My Future Husband" which she replied to in all seriousness "Nona is on it. She already thinks she has a great man for you!" A few more weeks go by and I tease her again that I haven't met My Future Husband yet. "Don't worry, Kimberly, Nona is very excited to introduce you to him. She's an expert at this. It's love. Give it time." We continue with the Nona-matchmaker-Future Husband joke for months until one day Colleague comes into the office and says her Nona is sick. Three days later, she is gone.
I go to Nona's funeral, not because I ever met her, but because Colleague is more than a colleague. She has become my closest friend and teammate. The office sent flowers, but I still felt it was important that someone be there in person. As soon as I walked in, Colleague grabbed me and said "Oh my goodness, you just missed him!" I looked at her rather stunned by this greeting and replied, "Honey, I missed who???" "The man! The man Nona was going to set you up with! He was here and he's so handsome. He came with his dad and they were both so kind and I wanted to introduce you but they left right before you got here. You probably passed him in the parking lot. I can't believe you just missed him!"
The woman just lost her grandmother and despite all her grief, she is still trying to find me a husband. You can see why I love her? "The best way to honor Nona's memory would be to fix you up with him. She would have wanted that. Can I give him your number? Please say you'll go out with him. I can hear the wedding bells now!"
Matchmaking from beyond the grave? Sure. Why not? Weirder things have happened.
Colleague introduced me to her father, who greeted me with the same enthusiastic / slightly disappointed embrace. He's so grateful I came to his mother's funeral while also being upset that I just missed meeting My Future Husband. My Future Husband is the son of Colleague's father's business partner. Matchmaking suddenly sounds like playing a game of Six Degrees of Separation, but it's been forever since I went on a decent date, so that's a game I'm willing to play. Colleague's Father writes my number down to give to his business partner to give to his son, and after a few appraising looks up and down of me, confirms to Colleague that he approves of this match. "Nona would be so happy," he concludes with a half smile before walking away to greet more grieving Sicilian funeral attendees. I wonder how many of them will walk out with the name of their soon-to-be spouse?