Sometimes you work late as I sweep the floors of your building. You put in long hours and everyone looks up to you; you’re such a wonderful boss to so many. If that’s not enough, you never look down on me, smiling as you push the elevator button, a kind word, a friendly gesture, a wonderful human being.
From the office building, down to the street, you dart off in your Mercedes, going home to your big house, your wonderful husband, your earned life. I sweep, I sweep away the dirt, the dust, the mess left behind. I polish, I clean, I make it presentable for tomorrow. Day after day, I’m here.
Being teenagers seems so long ago. You remember, you remember those years of pep rallies, assemblies, classes we didn’t want to take. You were there, so many years ago but I still remember, I remember the prom; you were so beautiful, so shy, so self conscious that you didn’t fit in. I remember our first kiss, I still remember our last. We were an item, you were my girlfriend. Everyone said we looked good together, except, except my parents.
“You know, Son,” my mother would say, “She’s from the other side of the tracks.” Her un-retractable correctness–we had money, a house, the things that made us popular.
You had your mom, a little brother, and a single-wide trailer. It embarrassed my mother, her son, a Tennyson, dating a poor girl–but we loved each other and love is a powerful thing.
I never told my mother that the girl from the other side of the tracks had more honor than anyone I’d ever met. I should have, but I don’t know if she would have listened. I never told my mother how I chased you and not the other way around, but I don’t know that she would have listened.
Mother pushed me to break up, and sent me away to college, far away, to secure a fate of losing you. She lied to you when you called, telling you she didn’t know where I was, how she thought I’d perhaps gone on a date. She got her wish, we broke up, you said it was for the best and I agreed, hurt but agreed.
College took its toll, I partied hard, I studied little; I wasted a lot. Four years of college turned into the five-year plan, then the six, then I just left, unfinished, burnt out, came home to a dying father and a mother waiting for her treasured son to be somebody. All the while, you went to community school, night school, online school, dedicated your life to leaving the trailer, to helping your mother, to being someone, and you became someone. I’m so proud of you.
When I sweep the last office, your office, I turn out the lights and lock up, always wondering, “What if…”