Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers
– Garth Brooks, Unanswered Prayers
Exactly four days after returning from Gainesville with my family in tow, I was back at Tuff Decision Farm when an email came in that nearly made me cry at first when I read it. Then, as I pondered the possibilities of chance and odds of random coincidences, I had no choice but to laugh out loud. It was the email I had been waiting to get for eight months – the email that would turn my life around from being a living hell to a joyous and prosperous heaven on earth.
You see, right at the time I learned that my ex-wife and kids were moving to Florida, I also learned about a job opening with a large magazine publisher in Orlando. It was not just any job, though – it was my perfect dream job that would have my name appearing on the mastheads of three monthly magazines. There’s no such thing as coincidence, right? So it seemed like my destiny was unfolding before me, guided by heaven above. Yes, the time had come for all of us to leave Connecticut, and it all seemed to make sense now that everything really was… happening for a reason…
Right away, I applied, and kept pestering until I finally heard back. “You’re perfect for this position,” I was told. “If only we had received your resume a week or two sooner, the job would be yours, but we’ll let you know if anything changes.” My heart sank and the tears started to form when another email message came a second later, marked confidential this time: “P.S. – We do expect there will be a change, eventually, but just can’t say when. Please stay in touch.”
This then became the core issue in my new marriage. From that point on, I clung to the faith and conviction that it was just a matter of time before a Northerly wind would come up to push me South where I could live closer to my kids. I was also dying at the thought of being able to enjoy a fulfilling career once again. After ten long years of working in an endless sea of cubicles for a Fortune 50 corporation, I couldn’t bear the thought of going back to that or any type of job that felt stale, meaningless and empty.
My new bride felt very differently, of course. Her kids, who were all grown, lived a hundred miles away in the opposite direction, in Massachusetts, and they had given her three adorable grand-babies. So we fought like cats and dogs over moving North versus moving South, until we finally agreed that the only reasonable compromise was to remain at anchor here in Connecticut. I will submit, however, that compromise is not always such a great thing in a marriage. Sometimes, it means that instead of one person getting what it is that he or she wants, both people agree to accept something that neither one wants, and settle for being equally miserable. After all, fair is fair – right?
Every day, I was on my knees praying to God that I would hear back about the job in Orlando, certain that it was just a matter of time. By summer’s end, though, my hope and optimism was beginning to wane. Worn out by all the fighting, and tired of being unemployed, I was all too happy to take a job here and settle the issue for good. And if you’ve been following this blog back as far as this post (https://dudesatmidlife.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/the-winter-that-wasnt/), you already know how well that turned out.
And now, after all that, and just four days after my kids had returned home, already back in their schools, I could scarcely believe my eyes as I stared at the email on my screen that read, “Dear G – the Director’s position is once again open, and we’d like to know if you’re interested…”
When my tears and laughter subsided, I finally wrote back: “If only I had received this email a week or two sooner…”
This was not the tough decision to which I’ve alluded. I didn’t agonize over it for a second, although God knows that for months, I had fantasized about getting the hell out of here and leaving scores of bad memories behind for the balmier pastures of the Sunshine State. And then, as my second marriage was ending and I found myself twice unemployed, I found myself a man without a country, without a home. Without a doubt, if that email had come in before I got the call from my girls’ mother, I would have told her to stay put. Now that my kids were back, though, Connecticut was once again their home and mine, ineradicably. Leaving here suddenly became out of the question.
I felt whole again. It may sound trite, but I am at a loss for a better way to describe it. Like a man shaking off an evil spell, however, I was now fully aware of how badly diminished I was, physically, spiritually, and mentally. It would be a few more weeks before I would be able to leave Tuff Decision Farm and return to my empty condominium. My strength was returning quickly, though. For the first time in months, I was finally able to sit down and write.