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Imagine Me, Minus the Sex Worker

I saw myself again today.
Or the me that I would have been. Had I had the perfect family. Had I had not been Cleo.
Sitting across from me was this lovely looking women, she wore her hair just as I like to wear it, bright red not strawberry natural red, but like channel lipstick red.
Her eyes are just like mine, a light shade of green that seems to go a deeper shade when her mood is elevated. She is however much thinner than me, she seems to take better care of herself, just like I did, when I was a single gal. I have met her twice now, and every time we meet I see myself in her. Her passion for scarves, the way she nervously ties up her hair and constantly pushes the errant strands behind her right ear. She has a habit of starting to speak and then, when she has everyone’s attention, she says “oh what was I going to say”. All with her upper lip pulling to a half smile, emphasising her question and pleading for an answer for her lost thought. I do exactly the same thing.
It turns out that we both speak Dutch, because we both come from a Dutch background. But her English is so well formed, like someone one who had one too many elocution lessons. Her mind is sharper and more succinct than mine. She has spent an eternity honing her craft. While I languished in survival mode. I am intimidated by her knowledge of all things worldly; she quotes Ullysies, Salman Rushdie and Oppenheimer. While I on the other hand failed to finish Satanic Verses, because my brain could not comprehend the prose.
She talks of her wonderful life being a child of the Globe, calling, home to Spain, London, and now Sydney. Out loud she ponders her next destination, having no child or family allegiances, the world is her oyster as they say.
She is currently squatting on a friend’s couch, while she tries to find “just the right rental that her ego will allow her to live in”. I’m immediately shocked that she doesn’t own her own property. I have to remind myself that not everyone saved as tenaciously as me, or had the same earning capacity as me. She is me minus the sex-work. The me I would have become had I lived right and flown straight.
She talks of her tireless work; eight separate contract jobs tutoring English, grading university thesis’s and exams. I have to sip my white wine, just listening to her lot makes me parched. In contradiction, I work at will, thanks to my savings, my investments and my husband. Once again; all thanks to those years on my back.
She talks of being childless but holds a special affinity for her plants. Jibbing that she shares breakfast with them every morning and talks to them in French lovingly. “These are my children that I tend to lovingly and watch them grow and thrive”. She tells me.
Who would I be without my Poppy? I have no doubt I would have found a focus for my love and tenderness, perhaps a dog or two. But once again, a dog is out of the question if you live in a renter’s world. So an aquarium perhaps. I never had to consider my life without Poppy, but now talking with Allegra I can.
She has a laissez faire attitude to life…. “oh the right property will present itself in time”. I can not contemplate such a mindset. I need constants, predictability, security, assurances and stability, for without these you are vulnerable to the unknown. And the unknown is rife with danger. Is she not aware of that? No she is the me free of the ugly narrative, she knows no fear.
Who between us is happier? Would I be her if I could swap?

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