Their Other Lives

When you were wee, what exactly did you think that your parent(s) did in their respective workplaces? Did not the world of office and/or manufacturing seem so brimming with wonderful possibilities and privileges, such that whole days might be spent getting to play with extra special paper clips with huge (!!) black clamps?? Were you not enthralled with the idea of getting to decorate your cube or office with personal memorabilia, i.e. Cathy cartoons, pictures of your children?

When visiting my parents' in their workplaces, I was struck by the way that people regarded my parents. My mother's co-workers were so transparent about their admiration for my mother. They saw her doing her bidness, which she obviously did very well. But I somehow understood why they thought she was so remarkable. I somehow knew that they only saw my mother through a limited scope. And I was able to reduce this scope to the simple fact that they saw her wearing make-up and nylons every day. Surely they did not know my mother, I thought. Because they never saw her sans make-up. And I did. So, I, therefore, knew her better. And even though I found her somewhat remarkable because she knew how to write straight on fabric with puffy paint, I probably just knew that she wasn't all that. Brat.

My father's workplace was an eerie place, so I thought. We generally visited his office on weekends, when the empty desks were filled with the ghosts that played with the mug full of pens marked LAW OFFICE and the ghosts that guarded the special notary press whose purpose was never satisfiably explained to me, and the lack of explanation threatened to make my six year-old head explode. There were a few opportunities to parley with my father's partners, and I was often interested in how old these partners seemed. You think of your parents as a certain age, no? That age always seemed to be much younger when compared to my father's avuncular colleagues, who treated him like a young, beloved pup. This was important for me to see, I think, since in my mind, my father had only recently begun writing with the LAW OFFICE pens, when he realized that the feather and inkwell were quickly becoming obsolete.

I wonder if my parents visited me in my workplace now if they'd be proud, if my co-workers would fawn over me like my mothers did her, or speak affectionately of me like I was their young cocker spaniel. I hope they'd be proud of my desktop memorabilia, and the fact that I never ever go into work on the weekends.