Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The Tides That Shift So Suddenly


A whole lot has changed in five months. 

I'm not even referring to the election, though I would be remiss not to take this moment to address the on-the-fence equivocators who so kindly informed me that "life goes on" no matter which side wins: life didn't "go on" for the people who died in the Republican coup attempt on January 6. Nor for the half-million who perished in the pandemic. Nor for the hundreds of families permanently destroyed by acts of incalculable cruelty carried out on our southern border on the order of a failed one-termer who does not dignify being named. Remember when armed traitors were prowling the halls of Congress, hunting the Speaker of the House and the Vice President of the United States with the express intention of summarily executing them? 

I sure do. I remember it because I was one of many progressives who cautioned, for years, that the anti-democratic rhetoric being espoused by the one-termer was calculated--and likely--to provoke political violence if left unchecked. None of you wanted to listen. I hope you carry the weight of that smugness, of that determined and intentional ignorance, every day. I hope you know what nearly happened in this country and I hope you know that, on however infinitesimal a level, you played some part in it by refusing to see what was in front of your face and by disbelieving the people who shouted unheeded warnings again and again and again. 

But I digress. And the failed one-termer deserves no more of our time or attention, does he?

Things have a way, once it seems they're fixed in place, of shifting rapidly beneath you, and I can't tell if that's effort or luck or some serendipitous combination of the two, but I sure am grateful. I was in a rut. A rut of many facets, some old and some new, but all converging to make me feel as though I was stuck. Wanting to leave the village system but unable to break out. Looking for a partner but coming up blank. Aware of my gender identity but too scared to act on it (and, by implication, consigning myself to a half-life wherein I saw my true self but never moved towards her). And then it broke.

The breaking came in phases, of course, and each one of them had in common my decision to push, unrelentingly and without apology, until something moved. 

"The Bible says You give us the desires of our hearts," I prayed during one especially fraught night in October. "And that You don't put on us more than we can take. Well I've hit my limit. I'm done. I am tired of asking You for the same things over and over again and getting absolutely nothing. If You won't help me, then I'll find help elsewhere."

If my threatening the good Lord above to go outright pagan doesn't illustrate the level of exhaustion under which I was operating then nothing really can, and to say that I was at my wits' end would be to sanitize the situation considerably. I was lonely. Tired. Unfulfilled. Purposeless. And just not willing to do it anymore.  We Christians are told to trust meekly in "the plan," believing--often despite significant circumstantial evidence to the contrary--that God has our best interests at heart and that He will enact them if only we have the patience and fidelity to accept that He'll give us what we need. 

You know, I tried that. But The Plan seemed to entail me spending a whole lot of time miserable and isolated while the rest of the world danced in sunshine far, far away. So I decided it was time for a new plan, God willing or, well, not. 

One of the first rungs popped in January. 

Teachers operate on year-long contracts that are issued each spring in advance of the following school year, and as this particular district sends them out criminally early--within weeks of the New Year, whereas other localities don't send theirs until March or April--I knew pretty quickly that I'd not been extended an offer to return for the Fall '21 term. When my repeated good-faith questions about what exactly had happened and if I needed to improve somehow were met with conflicting--that is, dishonest--answers, I mentally moved on. Made some calls. Did some interviews. Viaborea wound up hiring me back after all, no explanation given--and then seemed shocked and shaken to learn I'd pursued employment elsewhere. 

"Are you not coming back next year?" asked Mr. Coin, my principal. He'd shuttled me into an empty classroom and looked harried. "I just got a call from HR in Iceport asking about you."

"Oh," I responded, trying to hide both my surprise and my delight. "I mean, I didn't know if I had a contract yet with you guys, so I did sit for an interview. But I didn't think anything of it when I didn't hear from them for a little bit."

"Well, you know we'd love to have you back."

You know what they say, Boss Man: play stupid games--win stupid prizes. You should've loved to have me back on January 1.

The fate of that position, Iceport being the competitive place that it is, remains uncertain, but a handful of very complimentary phone calls with those involved in the hiring process has left me optimistic. I'll learn within the coming weeks if there's a spot for me in the city. 

"And we can be roomies!" Miss Violet, a teacher friend from Point Goldlace, crowed into the telephone when I apprised her of the newest developments. "Boo, this is going to be fun!"

Another rung popped in October, or at least began to, and the thing that nudged it upward was--of all things--an instant message.

I honestly don't remember what I said. I was on a subreddit, not even a proper dating site, so whatever missive I typed out to the cute guy with the wavy hair and the kind eyes was surely a banal compliment--"Sweet t-shirt, bro!"--but pleasantries yielded quickly to deeper conversations that betrayed a startling level of commonality. 

"You know, I really enjoy talking to you," he messaged one day. 

"Talking to me would sure be easier if you had my phone number," I playfully pushed back.

Within a week, tops, I was aware of something that I found disconcerting because I am not, ever, the person who lets their emotions carry them away or who jumps into relationships.

"Black Dress Girl," I told one of my best friends from back in the Lower 48. "I think I might have just met my husband."

Anthos, this man who's introduced so much possibility into my life so quickly, is thirty-two years old (his birthday is four days after mine, a fact that will prove insufferably adorable if we wind up together in the long term), and that may account for the cautious approach towards our dynamic that he was happy to share with me. Both of us were aware of the high level of compatibility we shared. Both of us knew the implications such compatibility could have. And both of us chose to take it slow. 

We talked remotely for five months, at one point consciously skipping out on meeting during the Christmas holidays, before he got on a plane to Alaska in the second week of March. I was off school for spring break and his job was remote, so we AirBnb-ed it for a week and decided to see how things went. 

The result: a resounding okay. 

"I don't feel those fireworks for you," I told him during one of our frequent conversations of refreshing insight and candor. "I mean, I like you. A lot. I just don't think those fireworks are something I feel."

"I don't feel them for you, either," he said. "But I've been in relationships where I did feel the fireworks, and I can tell you: it doesn't last. That ends really quickly, and then you're left with the person and whether you can deal with them."

I check a lot of boxes for him. He checks a lot of boxes for me. We have similar life goals and similar ideas about what a relationship should be. 

"You know what my favorite part of this week has been?" I queried him towards the end of our stay. 


There had been plenty of romantic or at least romantic-comedy moments, from the stunning drive down the Seaside Highway to the afternoon spent at a resort to the moose-evasion we'd had to pull in the neighborhood where we'd rented a place. But any of those instances would make too much sense.

"We were getting ready to go somewhere and I was still in the bathroom doing my hair, so I called out to ask you to start the car. And then I realized, 'Oh, my God. There's someone to start the car. I don't have to do everything on my own.'"

He crooned with laughter as the words hit home, his eyes glittering knowingly. 

"My favorite part was cleaning the kitchen," he confessed. "You were just like, 'You do this and I'll do this.' We just really tackled that as a team. Neither one trying to avoid helping. We went after it together."

I'd unloaded the dishwasher and he'd gathered the trash. It was magical. 

We decided ahead of time that we'd talk at the end of the week and decide whether we wanted to proceed with a formal relationship. We did. So when on Sunday, March 21, I drove Anthos to the airport, we parted as boyfriends. This relationship is not perfect and there are certainly obstacles to making it work, but we've both reached the same conclusion: that we'll overcome those barriers if we decide that doing so is worth it. That creates decisions to be made, but not to be made right now. I'm flying to his West Coast city next month and we're taking it from there. Step by step. Self-assessing along the way. 

And it's a good thing we're being so flexible, because just last week the universe dropped another bomb on me: a year after my interview was indefinitely postponed because of Covid, International Organization reached out to say that they're resuming the hiring process and want me to come to Marble City this summer. 

"It seems like for the longest time I had nothing going on," I told my father by telephone not long after. "And don't get me wrong: I'd rather have too many opportunities than not enough. But it's a lot to juggle."

"That's how it goes, though," he said. "One week there's nothing and then the next you have five job offers. When it rains--"

"I know. It pours."


Ed said...

Since gay society has constantly fought against being lumped into one category and painted with broad paint strokes, I'm surprised that you are so eager to paint everyone else with opposing views in such broad paint strokes. You refer to it as a "Republican coup" though the majority of Republicans opposed it. So because people who call themselves Republicans committed a crime, we must condemn all of them with one broad stroke? Does that mean we can call all Democrats bombing terrorists for the sins of the leftist Weather Underground or label all Democrats as murders for the sins of the Symbionese Liberation Army? I'm not condoning what happened on the capital. It was a sickening event. But I thinking labeling such things as an action of the few is extremely divisive and serves no good purpose other than to make the person who wrote is seem no better than the people they are howling against.

While I definitely agree the previous president did a horrible job at handling the Covid epidemic, pinning a half million lives on him is an outright exaggeration of the truth and makes me question anything you attempt to argue if you are willing to stoop that low to make a point. There has been 60,000 Covid deaths since Biden took office and there will be more due to this latest surge. Biden hasn't magically stopped the virus. Yes I'm sure Biden might have lessened the amount had he been president the entire time but judging by the 2.8 million people who have died around the globe, many in countries that have done far stricter lock down measures than Biden has, people were going to die regardless of who was president.

I didn't vote for Trump and I dislike him with a passion. But I find it extremely hypocritical to align yourself with someone pledging national unity and then go out of your way to say political divisive things.

kylie said...

Oh wow! I hope the romance works out for you, what you describe is what I imagined I would have, real but lovely.
And a potential new job!

You're right, trusting "the plan" is tough and sometimes seems like there is no plan but I have found out that things can turn in a day, in fact they usually do.....and now you have valuable experience of that for the next challenging period

Jeff said...

There are a lot of the Psalms, which are essentially prayers, in which the Psalmist cries out in anger to God and God doesn't destroy the Psalmist. Psalm 22 is probably the best example. So I think it can be okay to be angry with God and to be even demanding with God. When God wanted to destroy the Hebrew people in the wilderness, Moses even challenged God as to how it would look to everyone else. What I'm saying, we can be honest to God, even if that means we challenge God. In a way, such action shows faith in God. I hope that makes sense.

Bob said...

Wise words from our friend Jeff. God is big enough to handle our anger.

Debby said...

I have been worried about you! I am very happy for the changes in your life. Ps: everybody gets angry at God sometimes.

Concept Capital Group said...

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