I sat in my elegantly furnished living room, which had been featured in the local paper’s design section some months past, and realized that my life had come down to possessions — to what I owned, to what I wanted, and most of all to what I didn’t yet have. The latter being the most important.
I’d spent the morning in the English Country inspired living room seated for the last two hours at the antique secretary I’d purchased in New York while on a business trip with Sam. It was one of several business trips we’d taken together before letting the world in on our love affair.
I remember walking down Times Square after midnight with Sam’s big strong arms wrapped around me, looking up at all the neon lights, knowing for the first time in my life I was truly happy with what I had. This thing with Sam was enough.
I was happy. And it surprised me, because I’d started the affair as a means to an end, not out of love or even lust, but as a way of getting what I needed – things. The more costly the thing, the better I felt about myself. Dating Sam, I reasoned could get me lots of things. Things I hadn’t been able to get for myself.
You have to understand, at the age of thirty, I found myself all washed up in the modeling business. I was up against Beverly Johnson and Iman. Once those dark beauties hit the Paris and Milan runways, it was all over for us light-skinned colored girls. Imagine being told you’re not black enough! I was forced to find work elsewhere.
The job I took at WKXR was my first ever secretarial job. Sam, as it turned out was a gentle easy going boss. Whenever, I’d make a mistake, he gently pointed out the correct way of getting the job done. He never raised his voice with me. I thought he was like that with everyone. A real pushover. Until one day this reporter named Taylor blew a story. Taylor had gotten just about everything wrong concerning the story – dates, times, people names, etc., and the story went to air as written. Sam was furious. His usual quiet demeanor was replaced by a red faced screaming brut. I sat outside his office at my desk and couldn’t help but hear every single word. By the time the scolding was over, I felt like running cold water over my ears.
“Friendship is one thing but business is another. Cuddle your friends, but handle your business”, he’d say.
That’s what I was doing now, in my English country room, going over the station’s books, trying to decide who to keep and who to let go, if our fan base deserted us. I didn’t see that happening, but with David at the helm, and my being the new owner, of WKXR, we were a Black TV station in a White dominated world. Rather than bring in a White General Manager, I’d done as Sam had said, and had put business before friendship, but few if any would see it that way. I knew Sam had trained David in every aspect of running WKXR. David had it in him to succeed, Sam had said so many times.
That aside, what I was really doing, was trying to keep my mind off what day it was. It was Thanksgiving Day and outside everything was covered with a thick layer of ice crusted snow. The kind of snow that crunches under your feet as you walk.
Inside, the silence of the big Victorian house echoed my own inner loneliness.
Last year this time the house was filled with people and good cheer. Sam had used the holiday as an excuse to hold a mini reunion He’d invited all the kids, employees from the station, his college alumni members, and friends from the old neighborhood.
Mrs. Oliver, our housekeeper, and I had planned and prepared a sumptuous feast. There was an assortment of hor d’ourves, with the main course consisting of rack of lamb, beef wellington, garlic green beans and duchess potatoes. Fresh fruit compote, cheesecake, pumpkin and sweet potato pies were served for desert. The champagne and wine flowed freely. There was music, dancing, laughter and the tinkling of fine crystal.
How very different Thanksgiving is tonight. There is no laughter, no music, and no champagne toasts. I am alone.