|In my Office Portland, Maine|
Sunday, January 12, 2014
I returned to work this week after being unemployed for 19 months. It was the longest time-frame where I didn’t have a reliable or consistent paying job since I had starting delivering the Wall Street Journal in 1979. I can’t explain how satisfying it was to pack my lunch, which consisted of a smoked turkey and avocado wrap sandwich with chipotle mayo, low-fat plain yogurt with blueberries, baby carrots, cranberry-lime seltzer, and water, last Monday morning. It was like meeting an old friend.
I was very nervous about my first week, so I invited a girl friend over to distract me from my worries. We went snowshoeing, enjoyed a few Bloody Marys, and she even helped pick my outfits for the week. While neither of us had a clear idea of what was expected in term s of attire for a non-profit, but we managed anyway. With my clothing and lunch out of the way, I could worry about the work I would be doing. In time I got my first assignment and I felt relived that it was something I had actually had the opportunity to work on as a volunteer. This gave me a bit of reassurance that they may have hired the right person for the job. Time will tell.
After five days, I was a little weary. In addition to my job, I continued with ongoing volunteering, and spent a few evenings attending board and community meetings. While it was a challenge to reenter the workplace, it was genuinely rewarding. On Friday, I was invited to join a conference call in preparation for my first program and a hearing I’ll be attending at the State Capitol next week. I listened in awe to the brilliant and familiar voices on the call discussing strategy for upcoming testimony. On the call were several lawyers, including an icon from the current civil rights movement who’s been called “our Thurogood Marshall.” I don’t know about that, but I was starstuck.
During the call, I tried my best to just listen and learn. Much or most of the conversation had nothing to do with my small role in the process. And while I felt humbled to listen in, it was empowering to be included in the conversation nonetheless. My name was mentioned and I did have to introduce myself, twice, not that it really matters to anyone but me. Anyway, before driving home on Friday, I joined a friend for a fancy cocktail and a warm bowl of Japanese noodles. I felt relieved I had survived my first week and felt no guilt spoiling myself.Saturday morning arrived like an unwanted house guest, but with a January thaw in place over Southern Maine, I got up thinking about going for a run. It’s been over two months since I completed the New York Marathon, and I haven’t been able to jog more than a mile without debilitating knee pain. I’ve have been able to walk and do my own improvised version of physical therapy since the race. With the fog clearing and my three week old sinus infection finally at bay, I decided it was time to finish the week with a flourish and lace up my virtually new white and baby blue Saucony running shoes, that only have slightly more than 26 miles on them. I took it easy at the start, slowly navigating the slush, ice, and puddles, and after a mile, there was no pain. Reassured, I finished my short three mile loop slightly out of breath, with wet and muddy shoes on my feet, and a grin on my face.