I’m sitting here on a historic stone bench on the common in bustling downtown Waltham, sipping a really delicious iced coffee, enjoying the sunshine, and thinking about my new job. After a search of almost a year, dozens of responses to the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” (relaxing on a tropical beach with a thick book and a glass of chilled fruit juice?), a new pair of shiny big girl shoes, and a rapidly dwindling savings account, I am back to full time work. And I like it!
I like getting up in the morning with the birds and packing my lunch. I have a really great lunch box. My friend, Jessica Harmon, gave it to me, and it has pictures of sushi all over it. Those of you who know me know that sushi, eating it, thinking about it, and thinking about eating it, makes me very, very happy. I like writing Kathryn a morning note and petting the cats before I leave. I like carrying a brief case. I even usually like my commute, which, depending on traffic, takes anywhere between forty minutes and two hours. I listen to story tapes, and they, like sushi and morning notes, make me happy. I also have a new red and orange striped thermos, which makes me smile. Imagine how ecstatic I would be if my red and orange striped thermos was filled with sushi?
So I go to work every morning, and I talk to a lot of people about a lot of things. I ask a lot of questions and marvel at the variety and diversity of different people’s responses. I balance budgets, set goals, and write reports. I explore a lot, out in the community. I know where to find the best coffee, the best ice cream, the best independent booksellers, the best place to park near the post office. I know where the mayor hangs out on her lunch break. And yes, I know where to get the best avocado and tuna rolls. I found that place on my very first day.
And so, except for missing my family, which I do, very much, I like my job. Maybe I even love it. My days have purpose. I am accomplishing important things. I spend my days talking with interesting and often influential people who seem genuinely glad to be working with me. As I am with them.
Most days, I even wear lipstick. And more and more often, I can put it on without smearing it all over my face in a big red clown mouth. I did that once – the clown mouth, I mean, directly before going into a job interview for a job that at the time, I really, really wanted. Luckily, I looked in a mirror and managed to wipe most of it off before anyone except the receptionist had seen me. I wonder if she still remembers me. Or at least my clown mouth.
But that was years ago, and I apply my lipstick there days with a steady and confident hand. In fact, most things I do these days, I do with a renewed sense of confidence and competence. I smile more. I sleep more deeply. I feel calmer and happier and more patient. Like Erma Bombeck, who pledged to eat more ice cream and fewer beans, and despite the extra large ring of fire robust brew, with extra cream and lots of ice, I am drinking less coffee and eating more pears. (All right, I confess, what I really wanted to say was that I’m eating more sushi, which I am, but I don’t want to be too predictable.)
In many ways, I am the same person I have always been. But in some ways, hopefully better ways, I am different, too. I am re-creating myself, learning to trust myself again, figuring out who I am and who I want to be. My new business cards tell me some things. The feeling of anticipation I feel when I turn the last corner before getting home tells me others. And I am sure that I will continue to discover new things about myself and about the world. And it is sure to be a wild ride.