To those of you who have read my silly little blog (thank you!) you might recall this post with the way too long title: “Such a Short Strange Trip It’s Been…Or, How I Was On My Way to Paris and Landed in Hawaii (Metaphorically Speaking)” that told the tale of how I was just about ready to move to Paris when I met the man I called “Hawaii Boy” and who is now my dear husband. I talked about how I had planned to move to Paris but had fallen in love instead, and wrote that we were in the process of buying a house in Baltimore (which we did, and now we have a dog too!), and I talked about how happy I was (and still am). Towards the end I summed it all up with this line: “I hope that my story has the intended consequence of helping anyone who cares to read it. Helping in the sense of pointing out just how serendipitous life can be, how important it is to plan, and to have dreams, but how equally important it is to keep an ear out to what the universe it saying.”
Yes I am a big believer in the universe, and my ears are always attuned to what it is sayin. So imagine my surprise this past November when it appeared that the universe was finally gonna let me have my dream! I remember it like it was yesterday…I was sitting in the lovely jury room in the Baltimore City court-house when I received an email from said husband that said “Hey, check this out”. It was an email from a friend of his that asked if he or anyone he knew wanted to work in Paris, as an opening was about to open up at UNESCO headquarters, in Paris. I wrote right back, saying “Do NOT tease me, especially when I am in jury duty”. He didn’t write back so when I got home I was all about to give him a piece of my mind for taunting me in such a way when he said “I’m going to check it out”. For reals.
The not yet announced job, Chief of Section. Indigenous Knowledge and Small Islands, seemed perfectly tailored for Doug, who is a specialist in indigenous knowledge and the pacific AND he just won the Smithsonian’s research prize for his paper on indigenous knowledge and climate change, which was a focus of the job. O-M-G!!! He was serious!!! So we spent many wine-filled nights talking through the pros and cons of whether we could actually DO THIS. And the answer was a big OUI.
Even at that early stage I was convinced that the universe was in complete cooperation with this plan! Why, I had just gone to Paris in October, not really knowing why I needed to go again as I had just been there in May. And while there I met even more fabulous friends who lived there, who, in addition to the fabulous friends I already knew, would make the transition easy. That’s it!! That’s why I continued to go back and make more and more friends there, because I’m destined to live there, and I just needed to find a way to bring Doug along! It made perfect sense!
As for Doug, he was convinced that this job was his dream job, a sentiment that was confirmed in early January when the actual position announcement was posted (which we knew about right away as we had been refreshing UNESCO’s job page every day several times per day.) Yes!, he met or exceeded all of the qualifications except one: good to fair knowledge of French. Uh oh. He speaks Spanish and he was the first person at the University of Hawaii to use Hawaiian to qualify the PhD language requirement, but he only knew basic French. So he contacted Towson University where he used to teach and the let him audit a 200 level class. We spent many more wine-filled nights speaking French, and working on his application, which he submitted at the end of January.
Yipee, more waiting! But it was FUN waiting, speaking French to one another, looking at apartments in Paris online, dreaming about the place we were going to buy in the south of France so that he could have his canoe. Thankfully Doug knew someone who had contacts in the very UNESCO office where, as we were convinced, Doug would be working, and he told us that Doug had made it to the interview round. Mais Bien SUR!
We waited to hear when the interviews would be held. And waited, and planned and packed boxes in our heads, because duh. We got mad when people would say “well do you have a plan B?” and we were all, “non! There is no need for a plan B!” But we decided that we needed to try to contain our enthusiasm because it was starting to overtake us, we both felt that we were already living there (living in the future as a friend put it). It literally would make me dizzy sometimes. So we decided to deploy Doug’s favorite metaphor, the canoe. We visualized that he and I were on a canoe. We were sailing towards Paris, but we needed to be mindful to tend to things on the boat (ie live in the present a bit more), while still navigating our way to that dock on the Seine. That helped a lot. And we told ourselves that we needed to accept the fact that a big wave could come and knock us off course. But we secretly didn’t believe that. We still thought about Paris ALL THE TIME. Especially me. I visualized myself there ALL THE TIME. The Seine was calm, clear and flowing!
And then FINALLY, on May 11, the interview, via Skype. I think I might have been more nervous than Doug. I could hear his answers but not any of the questions asked by the 6 person panel. He’s doing a great job, I thought! Sacre Bleu he’s speaking FRENCH! They had asked him the one question in French that he had prepared the most for. It was spectacular. I was proud. He was relieved.
They told him at the end of the interview that they would make a decision in 1 ½ to 2 months. Argh, more waiting. Thankfully we had a trip to Hawaii to take in between. And then we got another email from our secret source who told us that Doug had made it to the final round!!! The decision was in the hands of the Inspector General, but he told us that the decision might be “delayed, due to budget cuts”. Whatever that meant. Still, he made it!! He did a great job on the interview! I was even more proud. Things just seemed to be falling, one by one by one, into place. Our FRENCH next door neighbor had a friend who was interested in buying our house…SIGN! Our dear friends who watch our dog Shelby when we’re gone, and who she absolutely loves and is in many ways happier with, said that they would take her when we go…SIGN! My boss has a friend who knows a higher up at UNESCO who said he’d put in a good word for Doug,,,SIGN! My revelation after taking a barre class that my career calling in Paris would be to revive my personal training business in Paris…SIGN! I spent many contented but sore hours at the gym trying to whip myself into shape, visioning my Montmarte Stairmaster ™ workout. SIGN SIGN SIGN!
But, over the course of the past few weeks we both started to feel, cranky. We chalked it up to being over the limbo, but I somehow couldn’t conjure up the visualizing so easily. It felt, in retrospect, forced. Something didn’t feel right, Yet when he got the email Monday from UNESCO saying that they had chosen another candidate we were both utterly shocked. NO FREAKING WAY! There had to be some mistake! Then it sadly settled over us. Done. No more packing boxes or looking at apartments or cute houses in the south of France. No more Doug having this perfect job that lets him work on pacific islands again. How do we deal with this disappointment?
Between fits of crying yesterday I tried to put it all in perspective (with the help of my Facebook tribe, merci). I thought about an email I sent to Doug when we were first dating. We had only had I think 2 dates and I noticed that he had put up a new picture up on the OK C(st)upid site where we met, and I sent him this crazy text that I immediately regretted and so sent a long explanatory email that said that it might be too early to tell, but that there could be something between us, and that I would keep listening to what the universe is telling me. And thankfully I did listen. How can I be mad at the universe that brought Doug and I together?
When I got home from work yesterday (thank you CEPR comrades for tolerating me) Doug and I drank copious amounts of wine and talked, and at the end we decided that we deal with this by remembering that we are still on the canoe. Yep, a big wave most certainly did push us away from what we thought was our destination, and after what had seemed like such smooth sailing! But we’re not back at the dock where we set out from. We’re still going somewhere. We just need to quiet down, ride easy, and listen to where the universe is guiding us to next. I have to believe that. I do believe it. In a way I feel remarkably calm. And because Doug is there next to me, in his sarong with his steering paddle in his hand, I feel happy. I am pretty excited to see what the universe has in store.
Aloha Nui Loa, from Baltimore…