White Chocolate Mocha
Ultimately, it was the white chocolate mocha that was my downfall.
Since I had gotten to the building early, I stopped by the coffee shop in lobby. But the line was so long that by the time I actually got my drink, I had about five minutes to chug it down before heading towards the elevators.
I really should have known better than to rapidly consume a drink that rich. My stomach was already churning from nerves and the massive amounts of sugar only unsettled it further. Maybe if I hadn’t indulged my coffee habit, I wouldn’t have started to feel nauseous in the midst of the interview with one of the most prestigious architecture firms in New York. And maybe I wouldn’t have then proceeded to empty the contents of my stomach into the interviewer’s trash can.
Surprisingly enough, I didn’t get the job.
“You don’t know that for sure,” my older sister, Shreya, always the optimist, reassured me on the phone as I tucked my feet beneath me and sank into the couch with a much needed glass of chilled white wine, despite the fact that it was currently one in the afternoon.
“Oh, I know. It was catastrophic,” I nodded for my own benefit, turning up the melodrama. “I’m talking like blood spilled no survivors catastrophic.”
I could practically hear her eyes rolling. Twenty-five years of being my sister still hadn’t accustomed her to my propensity for dramatics. “Oh, come on, Divs. You gotta think positive. Maybe they understood because it happens all the time.”
I highly doubted that. Though, the partner with whom I had interviewed hadn’t immediately asked me to leave after I’d filled her trash can with my vomit. She’d simply asked her assistant to come take it away and then allowed me to continue. Which was incredibly sweet of her, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get over that level of embarrassment, especially since it happened in front of someone who would be my future boss. I couldn’t work for someone I’d never be able to look in the eyes.
“That actually wasn’t the worst part,” I admitted, leaning back against the arm of the couch and taking another gulp of wine. Amazingly enough, my demonstration of my upchuck reflex hadn’t been the most unsettling part of the entire interaction.
“What are you talking about?” Shreya sounded skeptical, which was understandable considering everything I’d just told her.
“Well,” I sighed, preparing myself to weave a tragic tale. “She asked me why I wanted to be an architect and I had no idea how to answer.”
“That’s bullshit,” she replied. “You’ve known exactly what you’ve wanted since mom and dad give you that Lego set for your sixth birthday.”
Technically, she was right. I’d set my mind to being an architect at a young age and every educational moment which followed was working towards that goal. I’d breezed through undergraduate and graduate school and had been ready to take my place at the firm I’d dreamed about working at for years and one interview question had derailed everything.
But what if my focus had been the problem? What if channeling all of my energy into one thing for the majority of my lifetime had caused me to miss the bigger picture? What if choking during this interview was a sign that my life was meant to go in a different direction?
I believed in fate. I believed that everything happened for a reason. And right now, the events of the past few hours were indicating that I had somehow gotten sidetracked and that there was something bigger in store for me than working at a prestigious architecture firm.
“I think, maybe, I just need some time to regroup,” I said slowly, hoping she would understand. Being the older of us meant that Shreya was more inclined to be protective, a side of her I absolutely adored and appreciated now, though when we were kids, it annoyed the hell out of me.
There was a pause as she considered this option, the silence finally being filled by a soft sigh. “You know what would make you feel better? Some retail therapy. Want to meet me after work and we can go shopping and get some dinner?”
I wasn’t sure that would be particularly helpful, especially considering that Shreya’s form of shopping meant going to stores way out of our price range and staring at the products. But I figured that getting out of the house was probably a good idea, so I agreed, and six hours later, we were wandering through the racks at Iliana’s, my sister’s favorite boutique.
Shreya made a beeline for the wall of handbags at the back of the store and I stayed at the front, by the cash register, fiddling with the display of bracelets to keep from wandering over to the table of pristinely folded scarves. I already had a collection of the accessory that well exceeded my needs and I knew that if I so much as touched one, I wouldn’t be able to resist buying it.
My fingers trailed over the charms dangling from the various bracelets, admiring the delicate silver before my gaze shifted downwards to take in the other objects in my immediate surroundings. A box full of rings, a display full of earrings, some keychains, and a pile of business cards.
“Red Balloon,” I muttered, reading off the name on the card.
“It’s a nanny agency.”
I looked up to see the salesgirl approaching from the sundress section of the store and noticed her metal nameplate read ‘Janie’. “I’ve never heard of it.”
Not that I had some vast knowledge of nanny agencies in general.
She shrugged, tapping her chipping French manicure against the countertop. “Do you have kids?”
“Nope,” I shook my head.
“Then I guess that makes sense,” she laughed, her posture relaxing a bit more. “Also, I think they cater to a very specific clientele.”
It took me a moment to understand the implication behind her words, but I nodded when the light went off. “The rich and powerful. Gotcha.”
“Yep,” She leaned forward against the countertop as though she wanted to let me in on a secret. “Between you and me, though, I think it would be a pretty sweet gig.”
“What?” I lifted my eyebrows in surprise. “Being a nanny?”
“Yeah,” she nodded eagerly. “Think about it. You’re pretty much getting paid to hang out in mansions and penthouse suites all day.”
“While you take care of kids…,” I pointed out, thinking she didn’t seem to be taking in the bigger picture here.
“Well, yeah,” she replied with a shrug. “But I still think it would be worth it.”
It was an interesting thought, and one which I mulled over as I slipped the business card into a side pocket of my purse and shot Janie a smile before wandering into the back of the store to find Shreya. The truth was that I knew absolutely nothing about taking care of children. But on the other hand, there were plenty of courses I could take and certifications I could get to remedy that situation.
“What do you think?” I asked Shreya as we stepped out onto the street half an hour later, pulling the card from my purse and handing it to her. “It’s for a nanny agency.”
She furrowed her eyebrows in confusion as she read the information on the card and looked up at me. “What do you need a nanny for?”
“I don’t,” I laughed, “But I’m thinking about applying to be a nanny for them.”
Her eyebrows now lifted in surprise. “Really? What do you know about being a nanny?”
“Nothing,” I admitted. “But I like kids and I can learn all the technical stuff.”
She looked skeptical as she handed me back the card. “Yeah, I’m sure they’re just waiting to hire someone who’s child rearing philosophy is ‘I’m just gonna wing it’.”
That was fair. “I know it sounds crazy, but I think it might be good for me, you know? At the very least, it’ll be a way for me to earn some money while I figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life.”
“Can’t you just wait tables like a normal person?” she asked as we came to a stop on the street corner.
“I could,” I nodded, watching the light intently, willing it to change. “But this sounds like so much more fun.”
She still didn’t look convinced, pressing her hand to my arm to urge me across the street when the light changed. “I don’t know, Divs…”
I understood her hesitation, but the more I considered the idea, the more I started to like it, and by the time we’d reached the other side of the street, I had made up my mind. “I’m gonna do it. Besides, what have I got to lose?”