The Perfect Life
His ability to always pick the right team, from sports in primary school, to super bowl football games with his friends, from the best books to help develop his interests and even the perfect girl to date for senior prom, his intuition was always right and it led to a perfect marriage, the perfect family and the perfect life.
So this year, for new years resolution, he vowed for some unusual and exciting new endeavors that might expand his perfect world. He wanted to be surprised and maybe, in his subconscious, he wanted a bit of a challenge, although those exact thoughts did not come into his head, deep down he wanted to be thrust into a place where he could be challenged. He lacked the unexpected, he lacked anxiety and worry and perhaps he’d grown too comfortable.
Andrew fell into real estate almost on queue as the prices of land and property were reasonable and at the time when he finished writing the exam for his license. He’d found the best firm to work for and in the last ten years he’s managed to be their best sales person. Because he was doing so well, Andrew decided to go out on his own as he’d witnessed his company growing richer and they had hired on more agents. He thought he could better on his own, and increase his income by not having to share his incentives with the agency.
The influx of new agents in his area made the business a tad more competitive but this too was not much of a problem for Andrew as he was so well known in the area and he’d made good contacts throughout the years. People knew him and they trusted him.
Andrew also flourished in the stock trade and because he did his research he felt confident that his choices were golden, so he was surprised to find out that on January fourth 2019, after he’d asked for a more unusual life, his broker called to tell him that a number of his stocks had plummeted and he’d taken a ten thousand dollar loss, so far.
“Who knew these stocks would have done so poorly,” his agent sighed over the phone. “Acorda therapeutics may go bankrupt,” he said, “and the Dean foods Co also is looking poorly. You usually know which ones will do best Andrew, maybe you could send me your thoughts later, for me to reassign some assets. I’m honestly flabbergasted, as you’ve never picked any losers. This is a first for you I believe.”
It was true, Andrew had never had a loss when it came to stocks, and though surprised, he was not overly concerned, his portfolio was expansive and he knew stocks went up and down, but this much in a single day was indeed staggering even to Andrew. His ability was so prophetic that his agent usually bought the same stocks, and he had done well over the years just watching and mimicking his best client.
On January 10th, Andrew picked the wrong lane on the freeway and ended up in a crash with a pick up truck whose driver, decided at the last second to pick that same lane, thus his Tesla ended up losing the debate as to which one had the right of way. Also, the cop on scene took one look at the rusted out 1995 Ford on its last ride and decided it was a no fault situation and that each party had to look after his own expenses.
Well, that was certainly unfortunate thought Andrew, now forced to a mere Lexus. The cost to refurbish his car was going to be expensive and a lengthy process he feared. He had yet not sold a property this week, but this is not unusual as January was a quiet month for real estate and this month for some reason his clients were all having financial difficulties and not readily committing to any investment ideas.
It was the first time in ten years that Andrew had picked the wrong team to win the super bowl in February, but then Kansas City was not exactly a favorite and the 49ers were just not playing well. This was just another unforeseen development, and although Andrew is not in the least superstitious, it did fracture his psyche just a little.
By March he had still not sold any real estate, though property prices were still going up and there was plenty for sale, he’d never experienced such a dry spell. His wife, Sandra, who’d been a teacher for the past ten years enrolled in the principle course, thereby taking her away to attend classes in Kingston, which meant he would have to pick up the extra chores at home. He’d never cooked much as Sandra was a magician in the kitchen and he thought about hiring a cook but really he didn’t like having strangers in his home so he began looking on line to find interesting meals for his growing kids.
Trips to the grocery store were a dread for Andrew but he knew he could do this and his first meal was spaghetti and meatballs. After what felt like a week, he presented his pasta, complete with homemade meatballs, garlic bread and Caesar salad, a simple but nourishing meal. He was extremely disappointed when his children pointed out that the noodles were over cooked. Melissa his eldest didn’t eat anything while Nicholas, ate a few meatballs and most of the garlic bread. With no “thanks Dad,” or, “way to go Dad,” he concluded that he’d taken Sandra for granted all these years.
In late March when real estate gets more robust, Andrew had still not sold a single property and his self-esteem was becoming less sparkling. He decided to entertain meditation and even indoctrinated yoga into his daily practices to try to instigate a positive feeling in his day, but found that the latest news about the corona virus invading all countries dampened his attempts to remain up beat.
It was about April 15thwhen Andrew fell ill with extreme headaches, cough, fever, aches and pains everywhere, the exact symptoms of covid 19. He was amazed that he became infected and he wondered if the continued stress recently had brought his immune defenses down. His wife and children miraculously did not have any problems despite them living in the same home. For an entire week, he felt unwell and didn’t really surface until two weeks later.
While running his usual five kilometer run, in mid May, he’d veered off into a woods that had a great path but he did not consider that the rocks would be that slippery, and after a few dramatic acrobatic moves he was not able to prevent himself from careening down the rather steep embankment that unfortunately for Andrew, spilled onto more boulders. As he was falling Andrew thought to himself, “This is going to hurt.”
Fortunately for Andrew he landed on his butt, preventing any head injury but his left fibula and tibia were both fractured meaning a cast for at least six weeks.
Sandra was beginning to worry about her husband, something she rarely experienced before and now with him in crutches she felt more needed and important to him. She was also the major earner in their family now, as he was unable to sell a property so far this year. She could see that they needed to cut down on their usual spending habits. Oddly, this did not bother either Sandra or their children as much as it did Andrew, who held memberships to the prestigious golf courses in the area for entertaining potential clients, season tickets to theaters and sports events, all of which were closed anyway due to the virus but a necessity according to Andrew.
June was a welcome month as the virus seemed to be waning and Andrew would have his cast removed soon, he was already moving well without crutches and he knew that this was the month he’d make a come back in real estate. Although the face of real estate had changed with the corona virus most of his colleagues had been doing very well, and the deals were going above asking price which meant a good profit indeed, if one could sell a property. It seemed by his absence in the arena of sales, he’d become less competent. It did not occur to Andrew that he’d asked for just this sort of situation, when he was celebrating the arrival of 2020.
In July, Andrew finally managed to sell a property, so to celebrate he took the family to a cottage on a lake but after a hike, he promptly came down with poison ivy. Again, he was the only one to pick it up luckily, but it meant steroid creams and he was advised against swimming, which was a bit of hardship as the muggy weather and no air conditioner meant a rather sweaty time for the duration.
August 15, Andrew sold another property and he managed to stay afloat financially, but much of his profit went toward the refurbishing of the Tesla. Although he was walking a few kilometers, three times a week and his leg was healed, he had managed to gain 15 pounds and now none of his wardrobe was comfortable, and he would often wear track pants for the entire day. Sandra however had never looked better, and she worried that Andrew was letting himself go. For the first time, since their marriage 15 years earlier, they were beginning to show signs of distress.
September brought more rules for children returning to school, and masks were a staple. Both of his children were a bit claustrophobic and though Andrew went to speak to the principle he did not manage to free them of this ritual. Melissa actually passed out in the classroom after feeling somewhat short of breath and Nicolas, was taken to the principles office because he took his mask off from time to time. It was heart breaking for Andrew to see his children begin to hate school.
Synonymous with October was Halloween, Andrew’s favourite month of the year. He always decorated the entire house both indoors and out, and spent hours on the family theme costumes. They had been the Flinstone’s, Alice in Wonderland, Star Trek and Star Wars characters, even the Wizzard of Oz. They were always a team, but this year with the lack of social gatherings, Halloween was basically cancelled. It threw a dark cloud on the month and even though Andrew sold yet another property, he was looking at barley making enough money to keep the family going, and if it were not for Sandra’s income he’d be in a pickle.
Bu November, housing usually became less brisk and even though this was an extraordinary year for real estate, you’d never know it going by Andrew’s bank statement. Most of his competitors had bumper years in terms of profits. Andrew found some solace in Jack, Jack Daniels that is. This too was short lived mainly because the cost of alcohol was a bit extravagant and it was giving him major headaches. This little slide made him reconsider his situation.
Had he lost the zest required to be an excellent salesman, had he lost his sparkle, his talent, was this no longer his thrill?
Andrew sold his Tesla and now a used volks-wagon, Jetta, sat in the driveway. Christmas was definitely going to be a drag as well, and with no extra funds he was beginning to get depressed. Andrew and Sandra had planned a family trip to Disney land this winter break but because of the corona and the extreme lack of cash this was not going to happen. Sandra was not worried about the kyboshed trip as she had a much better idea.
“Why don’t we go into a homeless shelter and feed others this year,” she began, “you know, serve them food and sing carols with them. I’ve always wanted to do that. And maybe, if we have enough cash we could supply a poorer family with food and little gifts for their children. We could teach our kids the gift of giving instead. What do you think Andrew?”
Andrew seemed to be considering his wife’s ideas, when he suddenly began to weep.
“Oh my, Andrew, I’m sorry, I guess you don’t like that idea,” Sandra said, almost in tears herself.
“No, no its not that, its just that I had those exact thoughts many years ago, and now listening to you voice them, has made me sad that I’d never acted on it before. For the first time I’m beginning to see just how selfish I’ve been over the years. How quickly time has passed by, and how silly I was for not seeing the important things that makes a life so precious.”
The beginning of December brought a great deal of snow, and Andrew was outside shoveling not only his own driveway but the driveways of older couples in the neighborhood. He’d had a few sales this month and his self-esteem was slowly returning but more than anything he was enjoying a closer relationship with his wife and children as they found plenty to be grateful for.
This was indeed a different kind of Christmas as the four of them dished out turkey and stuffing for vagrants and the disabled. They donned masks, which the kids had gotten used to, and served a meal as their guests sat in separated seating, but they were able to feed a few people and send a message of sharing.
Later they dropped off gifts to a few homes as well as enough food for a decent dinner and returned to their own home feeling fulfilled and although they had a tree, there were no gifts under it this year.
Sandra and Andrew drew the kids near them and told them that the remaining funds they had this Christmas went to feed others and also a family in Africa now had a few chickens and a goat.
It surprised Andrew to see how this affected the children. They took turns telling their parents how this was indeed the best Christmas they’d ever had and once again, tears sprung into Andrew’s eyes.
“Life, is such a great teacher,” he said as he gathered his wife and kids in for a group hug, “ such a great teacher!”