It was a cool October day in the city, as I walked down the sidewalk, I noticed a few leaves dancing on the ground in the wind. It was starting to change seasons and I was ready for the fall. The streets were busy with yellows cabs, people on bikes, food carts, the usual hustle for New York City.
I was exhausted after the long summer. I had been working my butt off, so many extra hours, and long nights. Trying to work my way up the corporate ladder, but never feeling like I was getting anywhere. Sometimes I wonder if all this time spent, pleasing other people was worth it. Did any of it matter?
I got stuck in this corporate rut a few years back. I was a few years out of college trying to make my own path, do my own thing. Two failed startups later, I needed to get serious about making money. I fell back on my degree and entered the corporate world. I worked for a large Public Relations firm in the center of the city. I loved most of my co-workers, and speaking of co-workers, I was meeting my favorite one right now.
“Leah. I’m right behind you, slow down.” I shouted up the busy street. We were meeting for coffee around the corner to catch up. She stopped in her tracks and turned around to greet me, once I was within hugging distance. She grabbed me tight and gave me a huge hug.
“Brooke, you look beautiful, how are you? Ready to catch up?” The excitement in her voice to see me made me instantly wake me up. We were both stuck working on separate projects at work and hadn’t gotten to hang out in weeks.
“I have been good, tired you know. Busy, overworked, the usual. Let’s get inside and catch up.”
Leah and I opened the café door and made our way in to join the line of patrons. I loved this café. It was our go-to spot for years to unwind and relax. It had that cozy feeling, like being at home, with a fire crackling and popping in the corner, warm vintage light bulbs strung across the ceiling. The vintage barn wood on the walls made me remember the summers we used to spend at my aunt’s cabin in upstate NY.
“What would you like?” asked the clerk at the register.
My friend butted in before I could speak. “We will both have a cup of mocha with whipped cream, and I am paying for both.”
“Thanks, girl you’re so sweet, I will get it next time.” While she was paying I went over to find us a table in the corner, where we could stay awhile.
We would always decompress here after work and gossip about the girls that we couldn’t stand in our department. Before I knew it, Leah was setting our cups down on the table and settling into her comfy chair.
“So, did your group get their project done? I heard that Kathy was slowing things down and you guys almost didn’t meet your deadline,” she questioned.
“Yes, but barely. I hate when I get stuck on a project with her. She steals everybody’s ideas, complains and is so unorganized. I told Mark that if he puts me in her group again, I will walk out.”
“You said that?” she asked with shock.
“Yes, but of course I wouldn’t leave. I have worked too hard there to leave now. I just get so frustrated sometimes, this daily grind is getting old. I feel like everything is moving so fast and I can’t stop and enjoy things. Sometimes I just want to slow down a little, relax, and smell the roses, you know?
“I hear you girl. Corporate life is not what I wanted either, but you got to work to pay the bills. Too bad we can’t find a rich man to take care of us,” Leah joked.
We both laughed. “You know that’s not my thing. I don’t need a man to take care of me.”
Leah replied quickly, “I know girl. You are too independent to ask for help or let alone have a man pay your way. But don’t you ever just want to feel taken care of, with no stress?”
“Sometimes. But I would rather us be a team, instead of the man having control over everything. After Christian, I will never date a high society, NY businessman again. I felt so trapped, like a prisoner, I didn’t have my say in anything. I feel like all the guys in this town are the same, all looking for their trophy.”
She started to interrupt me and grabbed my arm quickly. “Check out that guy by the drink stand. I want some of that.”
I slowly turned in my chair and glanced in that direction. He was nice looking, perfectly tailored suit, slick haircut and a tight butt that looked great in those pants. But after my year romance with Christian, I didn’t want to entertain the idea of anymore businessman types.
“Yeah…he is alright, just not the right time,” I said with a big smile while I nodded my head.
“So, you do think he is cute,” she teased.
Deep inside I felt a warm hunger for a man’s touch. But I stopped thinking about it before I got too carried away. “We are not here to pick up guys, come on tell me what’s up with you?” I asked.
“Same old stuff. Oh, wait did I tell you what I overheard in the bathroom the other day at work?”
Before I could reply, I felt a vibration in my purse, so I grabbed my phone. I didn’t recognize the number but something told me I should answer it. I slide my finger slowly across the screen, somewhat hesitant, to answer the call.
The voice on the other end was deep. “Is this Brooke Williams? I am Larry Conrad with Conrad Brothers Law firm.”
I was a little confused by what I heard, why is law firm asking for me, but I quickly replied, “Yes, this is she.”
“I am calling about your aunt that passed away over the summer. We need to meet with you regarding her Will. Are you able to meet at our office tomorrow morning? We are at 68th Street and Madison Ave. Suite 15B.”
As I noted down the address, I didn’t even think to check my schedule. “Yes, I will be there, see you in the morning.” The caller said they would have more details for me tomorrow and then hung up the phone.
Leah was staring at me this whole time, probably wondering what all that was about.
“That was strange. It was a law firm, they want me to come in tomorrow regarding my aunt’s will.”
“Really,” she whispered with intrigue, “I wonder if your aunt left you a ton of money.”
“No, my aunt wasn’t rich, she was a simple lady. She always said not to get carried away with all this material stuff in life.”
I explained to her that my aunt Margaret was always telling me to slow down my lifestyle, don’t work to death to support stuff I didn’t need, don’t get caught up in the hoopla. Sometimes, when things would get so hectic I often wondered if she was right.
At that point, it was getting late. The two of us said our goodbyes and we walked in different directions to get home.