I stood at front of the conference room, ready to bring this company to life. Charles was explaining what this move meant for the company and letting everyone know that it didn’t mean that staff changes were going to leave anyone who supported change as a good thing, jobless.
“The changes that are coming mean great things for Hawthorne-Kinney. We are going to be expected to spread our wings. Brian Kinney will be here to help show how to apply your talents to advertising, and one of our own will be on hand to give direction on applying what we do in graphics to a new medium in art. Justin Taylor has been our go-to when it required more than a computer, but he also let me know which of you had the ability to work with both mediums and you, along with Justin, will be part of the new department that works with the new branch we are opening in Pittsburgh. There will be opportunities for advancement with the opening of the first branch in Pittsburgh, but not for people resistant to the changes that are coming. Brian and I both want the family atmosphere that we’ve always had at Hawthorne to extend to our new family in Pittsburgh and Hawthorne-Kinney. So please do me the honor of showing Brian that we welcome the changes he and I see as a brilliant future for all of you and our new extended family.” Charles nodded to me, it was my turn.
“I believe in change. Without change, your futures will stagnate. I understand that staying in the same place you’ve been comfortable gives us all the feeling of safety, but safety doesn’t offer growth. Growth is what a company needs in order to continue to survive the changing world we live in. I’ve been able to see what you each contribute to a company that has an impressive record. Charles and I want to see a future where this company goes global for offering more than graphics, and that’s where all of you come in. I might sell the companies on an idea, but without visuals, we won’t win a campaign. Your jobs are not to wait for an assignment to show us that you want the campaign. No one will be pigeon-holed in the role you’ve always been in. When a campaign is won, I want to see you fight for your place to bring the vision you see it going in, we don’t want a campaign to lose because we only thought of one way to sell the product, clients welcome any change that will increase market share, don’t be afraid to butt heads when you see a better way. You will have an entire art department that have worked solely in Advertising, they will gladly welcome fresh ideas. With all the changes, you are now open to opportunities to help bring Hawthorne-Kinney into the future. I want this team to show my team why Hawthorne is the leader in Graphics in this industry. If there are any questions, feel free to approach me and I will make sure there is no mistaking what I see as your role in our new company. This isn’t something I play at, when I want something, I fight to see it happen. I won’t be here just for something to do, or as if my interest is only until something new comes along to take my interest. Like anyone, I believe in staying the course and giving everything I am to what’s important to me. It’s something I learned from a man who never let anything stop him from doing what he wanted.” I tell them, looking at Justin.
I walked around, being introduced to people I hadn’t had a chance to do more than pass by. Justin had left the room to take a call and I finally got away to see what was going on. He hung up smiling, so it had to be good. I walked over and pulled him to me.
“What?” I asked.
“My mom’s boyfriend called to ask for my permission to marry her.” He tells smiling.
“When did Jen get a boyfriend?” I asked.
“She dated a lot for a while. I wasn’t thrilled with who she seemed to want to stick around, but he finally just had it out with me and showed me that for him it was about loving my mom, not a number. He’s a bit younger than her.” He tells me.
“So he asked you if he could marry your mom?” I ask him.
“He asked both Molly and me, he loves us. It’s nice after other things.” He tells me.
“Craig isn’t worth the time it takes to mourn his loss. He’ll always be the loser for trying to turn you into something you couldn’t be for him.” I tell him.
“I don’t really have time to worry about Craig, Hannah fills the place he used to be.” He tells me, trying to convince himself.
I take him to his office and shut the door. I never really shared with Justin anything beyond what he could glean from being near me. I could pretend that I didn’t want my family to be more than they were, no matter how much it seemed that I didn’t care.
“You know a little about my father, and mother. Even with all the abuse and neglect I suffered at their hands, it didn’t make me hate them. They were my parents, I wanted what everyone wants, to know they want us. I know I made it seem like you needed to let it go, but I didn’t want you to have to constantly hope for something you might never get from Craig. It’s a painful lesson I wanted to protect you from. It was hard to watch you want the father you grew up with, when he drew the line at accepting you for the man you are. Deb was wrong to think that somehow death would change the fact that my father hated me for being everything he could never be for lack of trying, there was no reason I needed Jack to be more than a sperm donor. It’s nothing either of us did, it’s on them for not realizing what they missed by not loving us the way we both love our children.” I tell him.
“I don’t have any illusions about my father, but like you said, it’s hard not to wish things were different. I let him be someone in the background of my life. Tucker didn’t try to be my father, but a friend, with no strings attached to it. Even if it didn’t work out with my mom, he saw us staying in touch and made sure Molly and I knew he would always be there for us. After what happened with Lindsay, Tucker made me see that his friendship wasn’t dependent on his relationship with my mom. Other than Emmett and Daphne, I had a hard time opening my world to other people. I hated myself for letting her do that to me.” He tells me.
“I can’t wait to meet him.” I tell him.
“He wants to propose to Mom with Molly, Hannah, and me there. He even said to bring you.” He tells me.
“I want that someday soon.” I tell him.
“You told me it’s good to want things.” He tells me.
I went to tell Alex he was wrong about me. He didn’t know Brian the way I did, and wouldn’t understand anything about me and Brian. He was sitting at Woody’s talking to the bartender when I walked in. I sat down next to him and heard the sigh, but he didn’t get to be the only one who talked.
“Michael, is there some reason you keep following me around? It's not going to win you any popularity contests by being around me.” He tells me.
“You seem to think you know anything about me or Brian, I was just here to straighten out the bullshit you came up with.” I tell him.
“Michael, I normally wouldn’t have said it so bluntly, but with you, subtle doesn’t work. Of course I’m not sure being blunt does either, since you now feel the need to bother me.” He tells me.
“You made it sound like I sat around waiting for Brian.” I tell him.
“If not Brian, what are you still waiting for, you’re almost forty and your life hasn’t changed in any way from when you were young.” He tells me.
“I own my own business and have had relationships. I didn’t care what anyone thought of who I wanted.” I tell him.
“Michael, you only left because Brian didn’t offer to take you with him. I doubt anyone would have been able to stand in the way if Brian had told you he wanted you with him.” He tells me.
“You're wrong, I wanted David.” I tell him.
“Then why didn’t it work Michael? You barely left and were already back here doing everything you already did before you left.” He tells me.
“David expected too much, and I got tired of feeling like he saw me as the little woman to pat on the head. I wanted someone who shared the way I thought things should be.” I tell him.
“Then you want to be in the shadows watching other people. It’s all you had before and I guess it worked for you.” He tells me, turning to his drink.
“I have a life.” I argued.
“Then why are sitting here trying to convince me and yourself of it. Go show me you really do have something beyond your wish that Brian would stand on the platform dancing with you for the rest of his life.” He tells me, taking his drink to a table.
“You didn’t even give me credit for opening my own store.” I tell him following him.
“Good Job, Michael. I would think you were old enough not to need a pat on the head, but I won’t deny you if that’s what it takes for you to find someone else to talk to.” He tells me.
“You can sit around talking to Lindsay, but not me?” I ask.
“Michael, nothing about you is anything new to the world of psychology. Everything about you is an example of selfishness.” He tells me.
“I looked out for my friends and always made sure they knew when they screwed up.” I tell him.
“That’s really caring of you. Michael, if you want to continue therapy then make an appointment with another doctor. I know too much about you to be able to let you cry on my shoulder because you screw up.” He tells me, waving me away when another guy sits down. “Michael I’m not asking you, go find someone who has time to listen to your fantasy.” He told me, when I stood there.
I left Woody’s wondering why anyone would listen to Alex. I needed to go find out about Ma thinking she should be dating.
I sat at a cafe waiting for an old friend in the art business. She had contacts everywhere and liked to show off that she knew everyone in the business. Natasha air kissed my cheeks and sat down, ordering tea and wrinkling her nose at my coffee.
“How have you been, I heard you’ve been staying with Lynette.” She said with a smirk.
“I wanted time to decide my next big move.” I tell her.
“I heard from a friend that there might be an opening at a gallery here. It’s not New York, but then your time to shine just never really came did it?” She asks me.
“I wanted to devote myself to my child, I hate how everyone we know can barely remember their children. Although things are looking up, my friend Justin Taylor is going to have his first show. I’ll have to invite you when everything is finalized with it.” I tell her.
“Where have I heard that name, hold on, are you talking about the show in Chicago?” She asks me.
I smile and get up, I’m done here. “Thanks, I was hoping you knew.” I tell her.
“I thought we were going to have lunch and talk about old times?” She asks.
“Call Lynette, since you both love to put me down together.” I tell her, not caring anymore about this bullshit.
I called Lynette and told her that I wanted to get a way for awhile, it should give her and her pool boy privacy to screw without her husband finding out. She just asked how much I needed and told me to get out of her house and not to come back after that.
I had one more person to visit, someone who I owed for fucking up my life. I got to my old home, deciding that this would be a good time for Mel to find out how I feel about what she did to me. She opened the door and I shoved her back and walked in.
“What the fuck do you think you're doing?” She asks me.
“I want my box.” I tell her.
“I gave it to the person who didn’t deserve what you did to him.” She tells me.
“They belong to me not him, it was my fucking life!” I screamed, charging at her, but was stopped when someone grabbed me from behind.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Ted asks, getting in front of Mel.
“Nothing, because that’s all Mel ever was to me, nothing!” I yell, ripping the hands off me from the person holding me. I left, not caring if I ever see Mel again.