Up the Ladder!Christopher Johnson

Up The Ladder!


*** Introduction ***
*** Chapter 1 ***
*** Chapter 2 ***
*** Chapter 3 ***


  They say the road to success isn’t the same for everyone. Mine was definitely filled with twist and turns, ups and downs, knots over knots, it was crazy! But looking back at it, I wouldn’t really change anything. It made me who I am and I could not be any prouder of where I am today. But saying that, I don’t think I’ll ever stop “reaching for the stars”. Until I breath my last breath on this earth, I know I will keep trying, I will keep pushing to be the best I can be.

  Let me take you back to the beginning of my story. I’m Christopher Derek Johnson and my story starts in New York. I was born on 15th July 1939 to Richard Johnson and Emily Smith. And before my parents did so, they were “blessed” with a daughter, my older sister, Caitlyn Johnson, who was 5 years older than I was. I’ll explain the punctuations on the word “blessed” later on.

  Growing up I was a very inquisitive child. I was interested in almost anything and everything. I used to ask a lot of questions, but, the only problem was, there wasn’t anything that seemed to interest me in my school book. Hence, I wasn’t the smartest kid when it came to my academics. My family wasn’t extremely happy about it, especially my father. You see, I was interested in the things that they didn’t teach in book at the time, and one such thing that caught my interest the most, was interior designing. I was thrilled with it. I used to bring home small decorative vases, wall arts and what not to design our home. Mother didn’t seem to mind the extra “homely touches” around the house. But father, on the other hand, wasn’t very thrilled about it.

  He believed decorating houses were for the women and as men, we were supposed to do something more masculine to earn money. He also believed that decorating houses wasn’t a job that was worth paying for. If I wanted to decorate the house, he’d rather I bring a wife home than waste my time embarrassing him. He was a very strict man and he tried very hard to discipline me and make me drop out of these “habits” and mother wouldn’t stop him either. The only encouragement and support I had was from Nana, my grandmother.

  Being father’s mother, Nana would constantly argue about the matter. She always let me decorate her room and she absolutely loved it. She was the only one supportive of my dreams in my household. Not even my sister seemed to support my views. This is because she was always “daddy’s girl”. My father often referred to Caitlyn as the “son I always wanted”. Of course this drove me jealous and I guess it’s one of the reasons I had a rebellious phase as a teenager.

  It was during my years at high school that I lost my dear Nana. I had no one on my side anymore and father was just constantly breathing down my neck. We used to argue very often about my treatment at home but he was convinced that I was only put there to embarrass him. At the age of 18, I left home. I left behind my family and walked out of the door. Father never showed emotions so I don’t think he was bothered and mother never said anything either. I was clearly not welcomed anymore, so I left. But little did I know, this was only the beginning of my journey.

Chapter 1

  Leaving home was never the easiest decision for me. Physically, I had no roof over my head and I had to constantly worry about putting food on the table. But, mentally, I experienced peace. I was free at last to finally do what I wanted to do and I was determined to do it, no matter what came along the way. I was ready for all the harsh conditions that were to be thrown at my face.

  I had some pocket money saved up, mostly from Nana, which was enough to get myself a place to stay. It wasn’t the most lavish apartment, in fact it only had the basic living requirements. I rested on my first day at my “new home”. As I woke up the next day I walked out full of hope and life, but only came back disappointed as I couldn’t find anything I liked to do to earn money. I had to change my mentality, I knew I couldn’t just have a giant leap and be successful overnight, I had to work, and that too very hard. I needed to start small.

  I woke up the next day and searched for jobs high and low. In a few days I started to deliver newspapers on the doorsteps of my neighbors. It was hard at first. I had to carry big bundles and walk from door to door to deliver them. I started off with only a few houses and then from there I started to deliver for blocks and blocks. I was determined to earn as much as I could. Delivering newspapers were only a part time job, I mean, no one would want papers in the evening’s right?
 So I tried my hand on another job, shoe polishing! I would stand on the side of the streets of New York and polish shoes of men who wanted it. Juggling these two jobs it wore me out. It was hard for someone who had never worked as hard but I wasn’t going to give up. Later on, I managed to earn enough money to buy a bicycle so I could deliver papers more efficiently. It took me a few months but I was proud of my achievements.

  One day as I was polishing shoes of a regular customer, who seemed to be, a rich man, he bent down and said “Boy, do you know how to drive?” “Sure” I replied. I had some practice with my father’s car at home so I knew my way behind the wheel. “I’ve got a cab at home and I need someone to drive it and earn me money” he said “I’m too busy for that. You think you can manage it? I’ll pay you a good percentage of the sales”. “Yes, thank you” I replied almost instantly.
 I grabbed the opportunity to make some extra cash. The man handed over his address and asked me to meet him the next day. Of course by then, I still hadn’t got my driving license but I wasn’t going to let him know that. I accepted his offer and showed up the next day at his doorstep and began my duty. It is only a few months later that I got my driving license!

  The cab driver gig seemed to pay me far more than my other jobs did. Being a cab driver was time consuming so I had to let go of my shoe polishing business. But I was still comfortable with what I was earning.

  On January 1959, at the age of 20, my friends, who I met as a cab driver, and I came forth with the idea of investing on an interior designing consultation firm. It was only the 4 of us and we would be giving consultations to whoever was looking to decorate their interiors. We all had a mutual interest and were working towards a common goal, hence, I thought it was a splendid idea to work together. But I assure you, it wasn’t sunshine and rainbows all the way. We were a group of cab drivers! We lacked experience in the field and we faced a lot of backlash for not being educated as we were all drop outs. But we didn’t let the resistance get to us. We pushed forth and we were consulted by a few customers.

  It took us almost 3 years to get to a proper stage that we could consider as satisfactory. We were beginning to get more and more customers for consultations and people seemed to notice that the designs that we were suggesting were unique and they seemed to enjoy it. We were beginning to earn quite a rapidly from it and all the hardships we had spent so far didn’t seem in vain. It is during this time that I met Olivia Henderson. She was the daughter of one of my clients. A very regular client that too. I had previously worked for Mr. Henderson on a few projects but when he invited me over to his house as he was looking for idea to redecorate, I couldn’t stop myself from noticing his daughter.

  Of course. Mr. Henderson was my client and I wouldn’t want to violate any codes that were established between us, but Olivia and I had an undeniable connection. As does any romance, we started off as friends and developed feelings for each other from there onwards. And when it was finally time to confess our relationship to her father, he wasn’t very thrilled as he was always doubtful about me not having a family. But as Mr. Henderson and I had worked very closely quite often, he knew my character and my personality, so with a little bit of convincing Mr. Henderson finally gave us his blessing.

  On October 20th 1964, at the age of 25, Olivia and I were married. Of course, I didn’t invite my family as I didn’t want to bother them; they wouldn’t have come even if I did invite them, I was sure of it. So I went ahead with my plans. We had a small intimate wedding and Olivia and I moved in to my then, livable size apartment.
 From that point, things only seemed to get better for me. It was as if Olivia was my lucky charm. Sales were pouring in for our frim and we were working day and night to keep it that way. Life was finally beginning to look up for me, and that too, just in time for our new baby.

Chapter 2

  On August 14th 1966, at the age of 27, Olivia and I welcomed our baby girl, Amelia Johnson, into this world. It was on this day that I vowed to be the father than I wish I had to my children. They deserved the guidance and encouragement in their life regardless of how crazy there passion is and that was exactly what I wanted to give them, and above all, a loving and caring family.

  Though my intensions for my growing family were very pure and innocent, I was still constantly and heavily involved in my business. I didn’t have a lot of time to spend with my family, at least not as much time as I used to have. I was busy building an empire and following my passion.
 I was happy that I was reaching a point of stability in my life as of right then, at that moment, I wasn’t the only one at stake, I had a family to afford for. By February 1975, at the age of 36, I was on top of the game. I had conquered a save a happy position in the interior designing market place, along with my business partners, and I was living my best life. Well, at least for a very brief moment in time.

  On July 1976, at the age of 37 and 5 years after the birth of our second child, our son, Anthony Johnson, Olivia decides to file for divorce. She claimed that she was not happy in our marriage as she didn’t feel like I was trying to connect with the family and I was too busy wrapped up in my own world of money and fame. For months I tried to convince her, I tried to make her understand that I was only trying to afford a lifestyle that I only dreamt of in my childhood for our children and her, but she wasn’t convinced. She was determined to get out of the marriage as she couldn’t suffer anymore. Undoubtedly. The decision left me shattered.

  Olivia didn’t take too long to finalize the divorce and drive away leaving me alone with my helpless motherless children. I remember I drank and cried heavily that night. I had always made it a norm to never drink in front of my children as I didn’t want to, even accidentally, utter a word that might cause them distress but that night, I had to make myself an exception as I needed alcohol to nurse my wounds and wallow in my sorrow.

  Bringing up two young children were never easy, especially when you’re out running a business and trying to balance work and home life. I left my children with nannies very often as I went out to work, but I made sure I visited al of their events, rather it be birthdays, concerts or even parent teacher meetings, and I wouldn’t miss any. I tried to be there “Super Dad” but I did fail at time, especially during their rebellious teenage years.

  I wouldn’t say I was completely successful at being the best dad for them, but watching them grow and becoming the people that they are today have made my filled so much with joy. My little girl Amelia was the first to get married and a few years later, my pride, my son, Anthony get married, both to very successful people while they too became very accomplished individuals themselves. I always tried my very best to represent both parents for them after Olivia left and watching them grow up to be as successful as they are, I couldn’t be any prouder of myself. If I had to name the milestones in my life, I’m sure this will be right at the top of the list.

Chapter 3

  After my dear children left me to start their life with their families, I was quite alone. They visited me often along with their grandchildren by, as an aging man with a steady business to run I was begging to miss a very prominent aspect of my life, love. I was very lonely and I wished I had someone to come home to after work, or even talk to about my day, you know, the smaller things in life. But I never made the effort to go out and find myself this missing piece on my puzzle, but if it were to come knocking at my day, I would welcome it with open arms.

  During the spring of 1993, when I was 54, as I sat at a restaurant waiting for my meal, I hear a very angry lady behind my seat, yelling on the phone. She was going on and on about something in, what I figured, was Spanish perhaps. I wasn’t very disturbed by it but I wondered who the lady behind the voice might be. I heard her put her phone down and get up from her seat.

  She walked past my table in such a hurry that she dropped my cutlery and knocked my menu off my table. Startled, she bent down and tried to help me pick it up. “Ayi, sorry señor!” she exclaimed. “No worries” I replied as I looked up at her. You know how they talk about love at first sight in movies and how they write book on books making you believe in that? Believe me when I say, it is real. I never believed in such things before this very moment in my life. I shifted my gaze towards her face as I saw the most amazing women I had ever set eyes on.

   She was a young, black hired Spanish girl, who seemed to be around her mid-30s and she had a figure like an actress and a face more beautiful than the great Mona Lisa herself. She was mesmerizing! She looked back at me as I stared at her in the most award manner and she smiled slightly. “Bye” she said almost as if she could hear everything that was playing in my head. “Grazie” I replied. It made her laugh even more as she walked out. “Idiot!” I thought to myself as I realized what I had just said.

  When I went home that night I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I had to see her again. I visited that same restaurant the following few days but wasn’t lucky enough to catch a glimpse of her. But after a few tries, my prayers had been answered and we met again. It was as if fate had pushed us towards each other. I denied it at the very begging but, as we kept meeting more and more often I began to notice that she too may have felt what I did. And I was right.

  A few months later, a romance bloomed between us. Who would have though Christopher Johnson would find true love at the age of 57 and that too in a 30 year old lady?
This beautiful lady, named Mariana, and I began to meet more and more often. She was very open with herself and she did let me know all her struggles as she too had been looking for something more permanent. It turns out that Mariana has just gotten off a divorce with her ex-husband and gotten complete custody of her daughter with him. I didn’t mind any of this, but as soon as I told my children, things started rambling on. They were convinced that Mariana was after my money rather that “true love”.
 I assured them it wasn’t and I even insisted on us getting married. Anthony was completely against it as he thought I was in no age to do so, but Amelia on the other had was reluctant just because Mariana was younger than her. It took them some convincing, but they finally agreed to it. And on December 2001, Mariana and I tied the knot and she moved in, with her daughter, and now, my step daughter. I loved her constantly and I never let her feel that she was any less than my own. And it seemed that I finally got the family I wanted.
 Life wasn’t the most conventional of things for me but, like I mentioned before, I wouldn’t have done it any different if I was given the chance to do it all over again.