There are those periods in any lifetime, comprised of hours, days, weeks, or sometimes longer, that lead you to question much of what’s come before. Have you ever noticed that? … for WHAM!, there you are, minding your own business, and suddenly, unexpectedly, this or that happens. And it’s at that point you come to question: Is this my life? Really?
I have a love-hate relationship with these interludes, for as good as they typically turn out, when I’m in the midst of it all, feelings of loss, ambiguity, confusion and pain are frequent visitors. Happily, a sense of excitement and wonderment can be part of it as well. It can be tragic. As well as magic.
Here’s what’s going on right now.
I met a woman online a short time ago. When she sent me a brief note of introduction, and I went to read her profile, I thought: amazing. We met for coffee the first time, and afterwards I wrote her a follow-up email, using that word; when she wrote back she said, yes, our connection for a first meeting was amazing.
After having lunch together for a second date, she discovered this blog. She apparently read quite a few entries and her emailed comments to me included:
… you have shared your personal history, dreams, joys, challenges, disappointments and vulnerabilities. Your words can so resonate that one moment I find myself laughing out loud, the next deeply moved to tears … [and] this is beginning to create a heart connection that is both surprising and much welcomed. As I tried to convey in my online profile, in addition to intellectual and physical compatibility, I’m looking for deep mutual closeness based on emotional intimacy, conscious communication, psychological awareness and spiritual alignment …
All told, we got together five times in two weeks. During the last date, a hike along a local trail, we, for the first time, held hands. At the conclusion of our time outdoors, we went back to her place for a while, at which point she indicated that our relationship would not be going any further. “I cannot give my heart to a man whose heart is in Oregon,” she stated.
Holy crap, I said to myself. And here I thought things were going so well.
But, during those two weeks we spent together, I had taken a quick trip to Portland for a job interview. I had had phone and Skype interviews before she sent me that first note. When I was up there on campus, I know I performed well and that the selection committee liked me. The president of the college, an old friend of mine, called me after the formal process was over to express her support. It seemed I was on a trajectory for a job offer. Of course, I didn’t keep this a secret, as the possibility of my departure was a very big deal. Still, the relationship seemed to be progressing normally, especially as evidenced by the “heart-connection” email. You know, and the whole hand-holding thing that very morning.
However, even before the outcome of the job process was clear, she called it quits, severing the possibility of any romantic relationship, though leaving open the prospect of “friendship.” I passed on that option.
Then, as anticipated, the very next evening, I did receive the job offer (by email, minus any details such as salary). When, after three more days, the terms were clarified, it seemed apparent this was not the place for me. While they said they wanted me, their budget was apparently not flexible enough to back up that claim. And other issues seem to be forbidden topics of conversation as well (e.g., vacation days). All in all: it was very strange and uncomfortable.
You know, it wasn’t that long ago I believed I’d do anything for a ticket back to Oregon. Interestingly, that has turned out not to be the case. I respectfully declined their offer, with only modest hesitation.
And, the truth is, I feel great with this decision. I live in beautiful, sunny, scenic Marin County, California, just ten miles from the Golden Gate. My interview trip to Portland, while a professional success, entailed surviving 40-degree weather and constant rain. It was dismal.
I am coming to realize that I feel at home in the Bay Area. It now seems likely that while I wasn’t paying attention, I was becoming a Californian.
But I was rejected for being an Oregonian.
Apparently, both the person and the college wanted to be just friends. Without the benefit of actual benefits, however.
Dear Universe: honestly. You really kill me sometimes!
Now he lives in the islands, fishes the pilins
And drinks his green label each day
Writing his memoirs, losin’ his hearin’
But he don’t care what most people say.
Through eighty-six years of perpetual motion
If he likes you he’ll smile and he’ll say
“Jimmy, some of it’s magic, some of it’s tragic
But I had a good life all the way.”