A Taste of Pearl

By: Arianne Richmonde

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Park Avenue is broken into a patchwork of glimmering colors, the streets a slick, shining wet as rain makes mirrors of the red and green of the traffic lights. I am mesmerized by the windscreen wipers of the taxi cab washing away the deluge of a sudden summer downpour that has taken the city by surprise.

I love New York City in the summer rain, a relief from the muggy air. But today it threatens to make me late for my appointment. I always aim to arrive early because, by nature I’m disorganized, so I need time on my side. I ask the driver if he can go any faster, if he can pull a miraculous short-cut out of the bag, but no, he and I are both aware that that’s impossible. The traffic is lugging, straining; all we can do is be patient, all I can do is calm myself, take a breath and remember that work is not the be-all and end-all of my existence. So what if I’m late? Does it really matter in the big scheme of things, in the giant picture of life?

Life – that’s something to mull over. I wish work wasn’t so important to me, but I cling on to it like a piece of driftwood in a stormy ocean. Work is all I seem to have right now. I’ve just turned forty, I’m divorced, single – I live alone and don’t have a child. Work is my lifeboat.

I sit back into the scuffed seat of the cab and look through the notes on my iPad.

The conference will be packed, my boss has assured me. Replete with an international crowd from all corners of the globe. It’s the biggest I.T convention of the year and I know I won’t fit in. Nerdsville here I come. I know very little about this world, and the only reason I have been summoned to go is to see if I can connect with two of the people who will be speaking today. They are a brother and sister from France who have made a small fortune, seemingly overnight, not unlike Facebook computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur, Mark Zuckerberg. This duo is young, too. She’s the business and he’s the brains, apparently. They started a social network company, HookedUp, a sort of Twitter cum social dating interaction which, although not so popular in France, went pandemic here in the U.S. Everyone has joined, even married couples, even me – which is really saying something as dating is a game I play badly; I’ve had no luck and I’ve all but given up.

My company, Haslit Films, wants to do a documentary about this pair of siblings. Not so easy. They are very private and rarely do interviews. They don’t go to openings or parties. They don’t do Red Carpet. There was a big piece about them in the New York Times, but other than that they are a bit of a mystery. He, Alexandre Chevalier, is twenty-four and she, Sophie Dumas, is ten years older, his half sister from a previous marriage. They share the same father. This much I know. But I can find only one photo of him on the internet and he’s wearing a hoodie, his face practically masked – he looks like a typical college student. His sister stands beside him, her hair in a neat chignon – looking formidable, poised. HookedUp is going from strength to strength. Rumor has it they are looking to sell or go public but nobody can be sure. All this, I need to find out.

I stare out the cab window and sigh with relief as the traffic speeds up. I think about all the millions out there trying to find a mate, trying to get ‘hooked up’ – and smile to myself. When was the last time? Two years ago? It was a rebound disaster waiting to happen, or rather, I was the rebound waiting…hoping to find love again. I hadn’t expected my divorce to knock me sideways the way it did. I didn’t even love him anymore. It was mutual. There was nobody else involved, we just drifted apart. We had gotten to the point where we couldn’t even watch each other eat. Yet when those papers came through, the ink hardly dry, I cried myself to sleep for weeks. If Saul and I had had a child, at least that would have given me some sort of purpose, a perspective – but there I was, a two-time miscarriage vessel, empty, null and void – my sell-by date looming.

It’s funny how others see you, though. So many of my friends were envious of my life. They still are. ‘So glamorous,’ they purr. ‘So free’. No homework to deal with, no snotty nose to wipe, no husband’s dirty socks to pick off the floor. Instead, a fabulous, well paid job with a fabulous, successful film company making top-notch documentaries, meeting fascinating people…and yet. Yet what? What excuse did I have, do I have to feel unfulfilled?