1990 was the year that put me on the map. I may not have had a lot of direction, and made more than a few wrong turns, but I was on my way! The Internet was also coming of age, no more than a telex jumble of Nexus bulletin boards and elementary codes, which like me, would in time, end up on the right page. I had a laptop, a 286 pony brick, about 2” thick, that had less memory than a $.99 thumb drive does today, but it was still a status symbol, along with my matching cell phone, weighing about a pound, with a monthly bill of close to $1,000. All in all, I was at the top of my game, and it was confirmed the day I laid down several hundred dollar bills to buy a leather Atlas briefcase, one that could carry everything.
Growing up, my father also had a briefcase, but it was old, and only stored papers he needed to work on the Police Department budget. I remember that time of year vividly, since he would set up an additional TV Tray next to his chair. There was also a huge, antiquated adding machine balanced precariously in the center, and like the briefcase, only used for this purpose…returned to his office as soon as possible.
It was best to avoid the living room during those days, because between broken pencils, groans and looks over his Walter Cronkite style glasses, the mood was a ring of gray frustration, and needed no verbal explanation as to the power he possessed. Be that as it may, it was still business, because even as a Police Chief, my Dad was powerful and in control, and it fascinated me. You see, I grew up in a world where woman didn’t work outside the home and corporations had yet to expand into the New World Order.
However, much to my chagrin I wasn’t cop material, I was a girl after all, and only men were cops. But, as I neared graduation, I still had thoughts of traveling to Boston and becoming a lawyer. The law will forever be in my blood, so along with Perry Mason, Ironside and Hawaii 5-O, that was a possible port in my future storm of adulthood. Nevertheless, before such dreams could happen, life gave me my first turn, and instead of becoming a cop, I married one. The year after graduation I became a professional wife, and mother, with diaper bag in lieu of briefcase.
Many years later, after a few jobs, several marital separations and a divorce, I was like the Internet, on the verge of a new frontier, unsure where life was pointing me. Looking back, I still see my three young daughters, reflecting the woman I was becoming. They dressed up and walked in my high heels, used plastic cell phones and sticky note pads, and carried pink briefcases with their names in the corner. I may not have given them pretend stoves and kitchen sets like I loved at their age, but I taught them the same values, along with a reality check, which adulthood could deposit at any bank.
My Atlas briefcase was a treasure chest to me. It held my secrets and my work, and holding onto the handle when I walked into the office, it held the future. I was a professional, I was taken seriously, and even if it was only in my little world, I was in control and knew what I was doing. There is no greater feeling, and it beamed from my face, reflected in my daughters and took me to places I never saw coming. If you ask me, a case will forever be made for self-esteem and appreciation, because regardless what you do, they are the only tools needed for true potential.
The world has since settled around me, like confetti from a party I once attended, and instead of a sleek black sports car, it is memories that drive me. Still, along with a desire to do my best, that is what colors the writing I offer into the world, upwards of four hundred pages a book, sprinkled with characters I’ve created, encountered or might have been. Now, the Atlas holds my notes and manuscripts, as they wait to develop into something bigger, and more professional, bound for the future… a far cry from business briefs, budgets or spreadsheets. In many ways though, it still has a lock on my daily life, keeping together who I am, and all that might be.
In the back of comic books I read as a child, there was an ad for Charles Atlas, showing strength and power, similar to the statue balancing the world. I think it was also a subliminal message, causing me to reach for the stars as an adult…a lot like a hotdog you crave at the drive-in, once the cartoon condiments dance across the coming attractions screen. Life may be called a buffet, but it is actually the snack bar that ultimately drives us into who we will be. Simply put, we’ll all experience small bite employment positions, only later developing an acquired taste for a profession, and if we’re lucky, we’ll be allowed to sit at the big corporate table, breaking and making bread.
As with my own life, briefcases evolved, and became a Filofax, Date Runner, Palm Pilot or Blackberry. However, their contents never changed, because authority and knowledge are aphrodisiacs of power, and once tasted are forever craved, regardless how brief we experienced the moment, or how many notes we forgot to take.