Friday, March 8, 2013

The Key

Remember the job I told you about in September, the one I said was too small for my soul? Well, I never left it but I will be exiting the cage as I was pink-slipped yesterday, along with almost 3000 others. It will be a long goodbye too, just to make it really special - we were told it will take a few months. I've been there nearly twenty years and it's going to hurt. Today a younger co-worker suddenly blurted out "I'm going to miss you", with bright glassy eyes. Our stages in life will prevent us from continuing our friendship beyond our workplace. That's just the way it is and we both know it. I was touched when she softly and endearingly thanked me for inspiring her. I know she meant that I, as the elder of our party, showed her the way in some approximation. I like to imagine that someday in the future, when she is the age I am today, she might remember me well.

I have been thinking about the women who have led the way before me, in whose footsteps I try to tentatively place my own. There is Mom, of course, my grandmothers, some of the muses I have written about here and some yet to be written. But I also turn to literature and books for my life guides. I found one last year in Mrs. Delany, as presented to me by Molly Peacock in her delightful book, "The Paper Garden, An Artist (Begins her Life's Work) at 72", and now I am finding one in Mrs. Diana Vreeland, the great visionary stylist and editor. Both women reinvented themselves, most remarkably in their 70's, an age when women are usually considered to be too old for new beginnings. Mrs. Delany entered one of her most creative periods by scissoring her famous "mosaiks" at 72, and Mrs. Vreeland began working as the Metropolitan Museum of Art's historical costume curator at 70. Their art is still considered timeless, beautiful, and important.

I've called this post The Key because yesterday, the day the ax fell, I was entering a friend's office building to collect her for dinner. Just beyond the glass door, I noticed something glint on the floor of the lobby. As I leaned over, I saw that it was a silver key. Not an ordinary key, but a gorgeous oversized decorative one with black onyx stones and diamante. It's special looking as though it would fit the keyhole of a child's playhouse or a secret garden door. And since I found it in a large empty office lobby, I pocketed it, rightly or wrongly and it will stay with me now.  If one believes in signs of the universe, perhaps it is meant as a message to me, it so obviously shouts KEY.  As to what it will open, I'm not yet sure.

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