I was fired this past week. Summarily let go. And it’s ironic, because on so many levels, my life is coming along so very…beautifully! My writing feels good and the creative outlet is awesome; I have a very deep connection with someone who came back into my life a few years ago and we are rediscovering the kismet that seems to keep bringing us back into each other’s lives. I’m blooming with good health and joie de vivre and feel better than I ever have. My family is thriving and doing well; and my friends are happy and prospering on various levels. Life is good. The only disconnect was my career. It has been a rollercoaster ride of feast and famine.
I knew things weren’t going well at my current job, for a number of reasons. Not for a lack of trying. I’m the consummate professional, never a slacker, a hard-worker and my clients loved me. At times, I let my career define me. But there was a decision making methodology with the type of client I was working with that didn’t jive well with my for-profit experience and I wasn’t, on the whole, very happy.
In the end, I was told it was a “business decision.” I didn’t cry, I remained stoic and cool. I was even rational enough not to sign the document they presented me so I could later review it dispassionately and with a clear head.
But inside I was shaking. The tears simmered on the inside of my eyelids. I was both furious and scared. To add insult to injury, the president, to whom I had reported in this small company for four years, didn’t even venture out of her office to wish me well or acknowledge my leaving. It was like a slap in the face. I have worked for a number of spectacular managers in my long sales career and held her in the highest esteem. I lost a large measure of respect for her that day.
I know it wasn’t an easy task for my sales director or especially the VP. They were both very professional and even kind.
Driving home I told myself how I’d be saving money not making the long, daily commute. That it was serendipitous that my resume was up to date and ready to be submitted to the right job. That I had marvelous references. Then I thought of calling my mother. Instead, I called P. and left him a voicemail. The sound of his voice almost made me cry. But I resolutely pulled my shoulders back and cleared my throat. And continued the long drive home.
Once I arrived home, I paced my house endlessly. I had so much pent up energy. I took call after call, making plans, reviewing my options, getting advice.
I knew I’d be fine, I always land on my feet (ok, I’ve repeated that line a hundred times since that afternoon). But I was still reeling. I needed a good cry. I thought it would hurt, that my eyes would swell and it would actually ache. I don’t like failing, I’m not good at it.
It struck me how bloody cold I was. Freezing. I was frozen to the core. I turned up the heat and ignited the gas logs in the fireplace. Pulled on a sweatshirt. I just couldn’t seem to get warm. I hunkered down on the couch and drew up the down comforter about me. Suddenly, I was very tired. The tears pricked my eyes.
I received some good advice from P. today. Take a few days, regain your equilibrium, get your bearing and then figure out what it is you want to do.
I want to write.
But that doesn’t pay the mortgage.
I’m a damned good sales person, dammit.
I look at my face in the mirror this morning and I’m amazed at what a difference a few days makes. I no longer look haggard and worried. I look and feel…lighter. I firmly believe that how you react to a situation will define its reality. I will not look at this as a failure but as an exciting new opportunity. I will move on and not look back. I don’t even harbor anyone any ill will, I’ve thought about it and it was meant to be, it wasn’t a good fit. I even wish my former colleagues well.
I’m anxious to see what the next chapter brings. Even a bit excited.
I’m ready, bring it on.
I remember when I first met my lover. I was an earnest 23, barely a year out of university, and Alex was a young man of 27. We both worked for a large Fortune 500 company.
I was flown to company headquarters to take part in a sales training course. There was a couple dozen fresh-faced twenty-something’s, eager to demonstrate our sales expertise and network with upper management at the hallowed halls of corporate.
Our instructors for the course were up and coming managers, expressly picked for the assignment for their sales acumen, charisma, and corporate vision.
Alex, with his broad shoulders, athletic grace, and easy smile, readily stood out from the other moderators. He was blond, with twinkling, inquisitive eyes, and he surveyed us with a friendly, open gaze. I liked him immediately and my sales radar registered, “sharp guy.”
The next few days were busy with sales and role-playing exercises, how to work with prospects and clients, how to close the deal. Rigorous, methodical sales training but the moderators kept it light and moving along.
On the last day, I woke up in agony. Several years earlier, I had been diagnosed with endometriosis and occasionally suffered bouts of debilitating cramping. Knowing that calling out sick was not an option, I pulled on my suit and stumbled in my heels into training. I knew I was pale but I maintained my composure and applied myself to the tasks at hand. I looked up to see Alex eyeing me curiously. Embarrassed, I looked away and started a conversation with a teammate. Suddenly I heard a quiet voice say, “Put your feet up on this, you might feel better.” It was Alex, and he had moved a chair toward my legs. I was speechless and completely moved by his sensitivity. I muttered, thanks, and dutifully swung my feet onto the chair. He was quietly kind to me throughout the day, without calling attention to me.
At the time, I simply thought he just being thoughtful, looking out for his “flock”, so to speak, and really didn’t think I’d run into him again. He lived in Boston, I lived in Pittsburgh, and worked in different districts so no reason to interact. So I thought.
A few months later, Jenny, one of the other reps in Pittsburgh, came back from the same training very excited and all atwitter. She had met this “fabulous” guy at training, he was one of the moderators, and he was coming to Pittsburgh as he had an account here that he had to call on every month. We would be taking him out for a night on the town. Since I lived near the airport, I was going to be picking him up and meeting up with everyone. I said, no problem, who is this wonderful person? With the exaggerated infatuation that only a 23 year old can have, Julie nearly swooned when she said his name, “Alex!”
“Amalie, you had him too, when you went through training. He remembers you!” I was taken aback. “Really?” I was surprised, I was one of so many young sales people at the training and he was an up and coming manager with the company. It seemed extraordinary that I would stand out. I was flattered.
As scheduled, I picked up Alex at the airport. Conversation was lively and friendly and he was exactly as I remembered. A bit taller and still as good looking. When we met up with the other girls, the games began. I have never seen such fawning and flirting in all of my life. Alex was the center of such attention! I almost felt sorry for him. My friends were jockeying to sit next to him, to buy him drinks, it was amazing. It was as if someone had cast a spell over them and I watched in amusement as they all tried to one-up each other for his charms. Alex handled it all with aplomb and didn’t become cocky or even seem to notice.
But I did, and my interest grew. So I stayed cool. I remembered some background on Alex that I had gleaned at training, that he was an English major in college. I had a strong English background, having been in AP English in high school, and almost majoring in English myself. So I casually dropped a few literary allusions in the conversation. Bingo! Attention successfully caught! Soon, Alex sidled up to my side and we were deeply ensconced in conversation. Woebegone faces soon surrounded us. But we were too entranced to notice.
The evening ended with me driving Alex back to his hotel. We sat in my luxury Aries company car with the vinyl bench seat and chatted for what seemed like hours. As he prepared to leave, we paused and looked at each other. The kiss was inevitable.
As our lips met, mighty Zeus looked down from Mount Olympus, carefully aimed his lightning bolt and struck home. My Aries car shook, we trembled, and everything shimmered with the impact of that lightning strike. Pause now for the operatic aria.
So, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but that is what it felt like. I’d been kissed before but never like this. It was gentle, passionate, searching, loving and possessive, all at the same time. Every inch of my body was on fire and tingling. The last thing I wanted to do was try to drive home. I had this sudden clarity of “this is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with”—I just felt it with such assuredness. This from a girl who was fiercely independent, wasn’t going to get married until she was at least 35, was defined by her career, blah, blah, blah, and more BLAH.
I don’t know how long the kiss lasted, (a moment? Forever?) but the repercussions were felt to this day. No one has loved me, devastated me, supported me, understood me, more than Alex. He is the love of my life. It has been an unconventional relationship, one I don’t think many people would understand. But it is not for others to judge or approve.
That kiss, ah, I can still taste it, feel it, even today. The hair on my arms stands up at the memory of it. It still has that power to thrill me. And so does the man.