Standing in his casual professional attire, Ken picked up his phone to message Shannon. “What should he say? How could he present such a big topic via a WhatsApp message?Did he want to type or record an audio,” his uncertainty froze him.
He felt so naked and weak, his body felt transparent, as though people could see into his pulsing heart and expanding lungs. A small part of him still clung to the sensation of betrayal, like a bath in honey, it dripped from his body in oozing plops. However, he knew it was his ego, the armor of pride he had donned when he was twelve. The racing emotions held him in place. It had taken Jessie almost a year to be let in behind the fortress walls he had built around himself.
He slid the phone into his pocket. He couldn’t do it! Looking down at the notepad, he grabbed it with quick force, wanting to go back behind his thick protective skin. He slid the notepad in behind his laptop, hidden, yet he knew very intimately what rested upon the page. As he let the paper go, his eyes did not miss the simple three letter word, “dad.”
“Shit,” he screamed inside to himself. “I have to message Shannon, I promised,” his soul would not let him cheat himself. The time had come, for the next line on that page was, “Having a baby. How could he ever become a dad himself, without facing this skeleton in his closet,” his thoughts soothed the beast inside, inviting him to find peace. The clock ticked loudly, he knew he had to go.
“Hi Shannon, I know it’s been a long time, but I was hoping that we could talk soon. I am in Hong Kong presently, so I wondered if maybe tonight 9:00 or 10:00pm my time, 5:00 – 6:00am your time, we could connect briefly. Everything is good, so don’t worry, just sorting through some life stuff that I wish to get your perspective on. Love you,” he typed as quickly as possible.
Zipping up his briefcase he placed the phone in his pocket again after hitting send. He was surprised by the sudden wave of lightness that rushed through his being. There was this internal knowing that answers were forthcoming and he looked forward to the opportunity to learn something new. He chuckled quietly as he closed the hotel door, for little butterflies of nervousness floated around his insides. “What will it be like to look into my dad’s eyes after so long,” he quietly questioned himself. Delighted that in place of the angry hurt, he felt curiosity tugging at his heart strings.
On the way to the office, he recorded a message to Jessie, letting his expanding gratitude and love guide his words. It was intoxicating to chop away at his defensive walls, like releasing a balloon into the sky, a smile slid across his face as he welcomed the exhilaration and fresh enthusiasm he felt for life.
The morning zoomed past as they strategized on how to expand the company into new regions. They were a small team, especially in the US, only three of them, and if truth be told, really only Ken, for Sharon was useless and Rita was the cement that kept it all in place.
John agreed that it was time to hire another person, someone who was a strong marketer, yet also had experience in the agricultural arena and knew how to juggle many balls at one time. Ken was relieved to have this support and to also be heard with regard to Sharon’s poor performance. Thankfully black and white results can help to navigate the touchy feely challenges when family employees are involved.
Breaking for lunch they headed out to enjoy some authentic Chinese street food. Ken looked forward to enjoying some Jiaozi, Chinese dumplings, they were one of his favorites. He kept trying to make them at home, but, could never quite get it right.
“I really want to have a person located in South Africa, a small central office with one or two people. I think that we have just scratched the surface with our potential to export speciality crops out of there,” shared John in between bites of Pai gu nian gao, a pork chop with rice cakes.
Ken was startled by his immediate internal response to this discussion. “Me, pick me,” jumped up and down inside him. Taking a bite, so he could excuse himself from speaking, he processed his reaction. He almost laughed out loud as he recalled the magazines last words, “Since your heart and soul are open and awake, perhaps, some of the answers you seek will flow in from other places, people and experiences.”
Taking a breath he asked, “Are you wanting the people in this office to be from South Africa?” Keeping his eyes intently on his his boss, he waited, surprised by his childlike finger crossing under the table.
John quietly thought for a few moments, extending the anticipatory silence. “You know, I haven’t really thought that far. I guess I’m open. It’s all about finding the right person,” he responded, noticing the glint in Ken’s eyes. He documented this discovery for later exploration. He really liked Ken and valued him immensely as someone he trusted and knew presented the company with great integrity.
Annika and Jabulani arrived promptly at 2:00pm, they had spent the morning at some of the Chinese producers, learning more about how You Xin worked in relationship to producers. Ken was very excited to meet these two again, especially Annika, for he had genuinely enjoyed their conversation about the wineries last night. Despite himself Ken found it difficult to stay on topic, he wanted to ask them more about South Africa, to investigate at great length the winery scene and chit chat to get a feel for what it was like to live there.
“Ken, what do you think,” John asked, jolting Ken out of his reverie.
“I’m sorry, I was processing some of the previous conversation, thus sadly did not catch the last comments,” he replied with honesty, while embarrassed redness rose to his cheeks.
“I was mentioning to them that I’m exploring the idea of having an office in Cape Town. Checking in to verify if my assessment of the potential seems accurate,” John responded, noticing again Ken’s special intrigue with this part of the world.
“I personally think it is a great idea, however, I must admit that I have not researched thoroughly the diversity of producers. I am definitely looking forward to visiting next month to experience the country and all it has to offer,” he joyfully exuded, not even trying to hide his extreme curiosity about the area.
“I have an idea,” John offered, “do you two have plans tonight? If you don’t, maybe we could meet for drinks and appetizers to visit in a relaxed atmosphere before you head back tomorrow. We can finish signing this paperwork and then meet up again around 5:30pm, if that works for you.”
To be continued… 40