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Cynthia-Not-Emily

It was 7:00 a.m. I was on the return miles back to my house — and my first cup of coffee.

The morning was cool, air sweet, and sky clear. Not many walkers were out yet — several runners had flown past and the lone cyclist whooshed past with furious intent to get in an early morning ride.

I heard the walker behind me long before she caught up to me. Tall blonde, ponytail bouncing under her baseball cap. Long legs in capris — a daring choice for this 40 degree morning.

As she passed, we smiled pleasantly. I was zapped with memory of a very sweet, tall blonde marketing assistant that I once knew in New York City. Expensive suits, color and highlights every few weeks, blinding white teeth, and an easy smile that warmed your heart. Most of us were kind, but distant, recognizing her work-for-a-few-years-before-you-marry-exceptionally-well track rather than our own earn your MBA and work hard and smart to make our own lives.

Thirty years on, this could be her, in another life and identity and the barest suggestion that gravity was going to bless her with jowls and deep wrinkles. Too much sun, possibly. Too much good life for a girl born into the right family at the right time with the right connections to land her in a job way over her head where management agonized over how to keep her insulated from the real business and yet keep her happy, engaged, and feeling like she made a contribution.

I called after her, “By any chance, are you Emily?” I had no idea what I’d say if she said yes.

“Cynthia,” she called back. “This town is filled with tall blondes.” She laughed at the daily confusion of one blonde for another and waved over her shoulder. Minutes later, she was a distant blur.

I wish that she were Emily. I look forward to seeing Cynthia some other morning and hope that we talk.

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