“You know if you had just fucked me over sideways, that would have been fine. But you’re hurting my daughter by doing this. How dare you just toss me aside a week before my health insurance kicked in!” I yell at him. “Don’t you have a damn heart?”
But from the way Ross calmly picks up his phone and asks his assistant, Meredith, to come in the room as if I need to be escorted out, I can see he doesn’t have a heart at all.
Meredith has never liked me and the last thing I need is her gloating, so I hightail it out of his office before she can get a glimpse of my red and distraught face. I quickly gather my purse from my cubby in the staffroom, grateful for once that while I was the company’s visual stylist for the past three months, I never had a desk of my own. What a pain that would be to clean out.
I don’t even say goodbye to Priscilla, the buyer whom I’d become somewhat close with, or Tabby, the regional merchandiser, someone whose job I hoped to have one day. I’m just too ashamed to tell them what just happened and I feel worse when I suspect maybe they knew all along.
When I first got the job for the popular yoga clothing chain, Rusk, I thought I’d finally made it. I’d spent enough time taking two steps forward and one step backward. The city doesn’t always make it easy on you, no matter what industry you’re in. And fashion is definitely one of the more challenging ones.
I went to college with Stephanie at the Art Institute in downtown San Francisco, connecting with her after being decades apart. I grew up near Steph in Petaluma, a town north of the city, and I knew her in grade school until my parents got divorced and I moved with my mom to the Pacific Heights in San Francisco to live with her terribly rich new husband. Long story short, after spending high school with the rich kids – and being one of the rich kids – I enrolled myself in college, wanting to do something with my passion for fashion. After all, the garments I designed and made in my spare time, ones with screen-printed graphics and kooky phrases, would never grant me an income or a career. They were good but not “that good” (as my ex-stepfather had pointed out). So, I thought a career in fashion merchandising would be the next best thing.
And it was. I mean, school was amazing. I finally felt in my element, surrounded by people who understood my passion, who “got” me. But finding jobs after school wasn’t so easy. And even though I managed to snag a few internships in some pretty important places (Banana Republic being one of them), I struggled to find a job that was related to my field and paid enough to give Ava everything she needed.
That’s usually what it came down to, my daughter. Her arrival was a curveball to my perfectly crafted life but I took it in stride, determined to love her. And I do, with all my heart. I never regretted keeping her for a second. But it was Phil, my baby daddy’s leaving that really undid me. And after that, everything just kind of kept falling apart. Me and Ava against the world.
One day, though, while I was still with Phil, I thought my prayers had been answered. I had gotten a job at an online jewelry store as the copywriter and buyer. It was actually pretty amazing. The pay was excellent and all signs pointed to a long and promising career. But online retail is a cutthroat and fickle industry, so after a couple of years the site went bankrupt. I was out of a job. Then I was out of a boyfriend. Then my mother cheated on her new husband and, thanks to the indemnity clause, I was out of any extra financial support as I bounced around the city from a nice apartment to a so-so studio to a run-down in the sketchy Tenderloin district trying to find work again in the industry.
Finally, after a yearlong maternity leave stint as a sales clerk in the Nordstrom shoe department (not at all what I wanted to do but it paid the bills), I came across the position at Rusk. I thought I found something that would kindle my passion while providing the financial support I wanted for Ava. It’s not that she asked for anything, but I wanted to be able to give her whatever she desired. I’d do anything for her including working my ass off just so she could have all of life’s opportunities.