Twenty or Nothin'

I stood in front of the train tracks and watched the cat-sized rat sniff its way around the rails. It didn't exactly set the scene for a playful daydream, but I was feeling pretty euphoric that evening.  It was as though my favorite city read my mind because a guy across the tracks began to play, "When I Fall in Love" on his saxophone. Only in New York. I thought about my husband and daughter and began to wonder what it would be like when we had a second baby. I smiled at the thought of having a round belly again. No announcements here, folks. You just have to give it to life; its good at keeping you on your toes. It hasn't been an easy year without my mother, yet somehow I was still standing and still pretty damn happy with my little family of three. I quickly got in the mood for some Justin Timberlake. Because, when I get happy—I get dance happy.

I reached into my purse for my iPhone so I could jam out to my boyfriend when something caught my eye. There was a twenty dollar bill blowing in the breeze of the last passing subway train. I swear a twenty dollar bill never looked so graceful. It looked like the leaf in the movie Forrest Gump.  I couldn't help but think that I should let it float its way to a homeless person who needed it or someone who was having a bad day. It looked too beautiful to pick up.  There was a poetry to this scene. It wasn't meant for me. Surely someone in need of a true pick-me-up would find it. It was then that the next subway train pulled up,  pushing the twenty to the ground. I looked one last time at the bill before I started my stride toward the train. 

It was then that a girl crossed my path, picked up the twenty and entered the train in one fluid motion. The doors shut behind her like a curtain finalizing the first act of a play. Had a guy not been trying to rip the subway doors open to get in, I would have been standing outside the train, watching my ride home leave the station. I was in utter shock.  She didn't look homeless. She didn't look needy. Her well-manicured fingers weren't meant to hold that money.  Her Marc Jacobs handbag wasn't meant to house it. Her highlighted hair wouldn't need it to pay for the next trip to the salon. I could see her in the next subway car, sitting pretty with her Michael Kors boots on display. Those were not the boots of an owner who needed that twenty!

"See, that's an opportunist. Carpe Diem," my husband said to me later that night. 

"But it was meant for someone who needed it," I insisted.

"Nope, it was meant for whoever got to it first. Welcome to New York, kid," my husband said pinching my cheek. 

The doorbell rang, our dinner was there.

"I've got it tonight, babe. I went to the ATM," I said shuffling through my bag, "I have a twenty. HAD a twen...." I paused mid sentence.....

Could it be? I emptied my person, wallet and coat. 

The twenty I had gotten out of the ATM before I went underground was on its way back to Sassy pants land with that Prada-coat-wearing woman! That was my twenty on the subway track blowing in the breeze. It must have fallen out when I reached in for my iPhone. Oh fate, you fickle bitch.

My husband laughed for the better part of an hour while I imagined my money being spent on a twenty dollar bottle of high-end shampoo. The truth is, I wasn't being fair. I mean, after all I was wearing my Burberry boots and coat that my mother had given me a few Christmases prior, but still, we were good people that worked hard for our money. Ok, so maybe this girl was also a good person who earned an honest dollar and maybe just maybe that twenty brightened her day. 

Then I began to think, if life is really about seizing the day then maybe I should have picked up that twenty and handed it to a homeless person. If my intention was for someone needy to have that money, then I should have made sure it got to them.  I always thought that things should be left to fate, but the truth is more than anything else this year I have learned that sometimes fate is what you make it. Sometimes you have to give it a little nudge. You can wish and pray beyond all hope that something will turn up sunny, but if you don't go out and dare to break through the clouds you'll just end up in the shade.  Damn it, I hate when Mike is right.

So when New Years came around I made a promise to myself that I would live proactively. I wouldn't just wish upon stars and pray for health and happiness for my family and friends, but I would make steps to make that possible. Eat better. Get more sleep. Work out more. Pray more. Love more. The truth is, I couldn't love the people in my life anymore than I already do. But now I know with everything that I have been through and with every breath in me that I have to cherish every interaction with each of them. I would learn from them, cheer for all of their accomplishments and exchange life lessons with each of them as we embrace this crazy world together. 

And so, my little Madison, together we take on a new year and it's going to be an amazing one. It's like MeMa always said, in order to get what you want you have to "cut the crap and stop the whining, because life only gives you what you order." So to this, Mom, how about this year and for many to come let's have some amazing health and happiness with a plenty of twenty dollar bills. Hey, it can't hurt to put this in writing. 






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