Monday, July 9, 2012


I’m trying to simplify my life, take the “Rural” out of Rural Gay.  Trouble is, no one else wants to take on that title.  For eighteen months out of the past two and a half years, a For Sale sign has been pitched in the front yard.  (During one gap in time, I experienced the joys of renovations.  All I’ll say about that phase is there were a lot more commercial breaks than on the television reno shows.)

Things are getting desperate.

For the past two years, I’ve commuted five hours a day by foot, ferry and car to work in the Lower Mainland.  I leave home at 5:45 in the morning and return at 6:30 on a good day, 8:30 or 10:20 p.m. on more typical nights.

I’d thought the house would sell within a reasonable period of time.   And during the interim, I’d thought that having some time in the city would reconnect me with friends and revive me with the urban conveniences I’ve always been accustomed to, having lived in Hamilton, Dallas, L.A. and Vancouver. 

But no. 

I am a slave to a ferry schedule which, for ten months of the year, has sailings that run once every two hours.  I’ve had many races to the terminal, speeding recklessly down the highway, anxious to avoid yet another unfortunate 1h 55min wait.  Sometimes it works, many times it doesn’t.  I’ve frequently arrived on time only to discover the ferry is late due to yet another “operational delay”.  Even when all goes right, I cross the water on the vehicle deck, sitting with my dog in a caged area that rarely gets a mop down.  (All that classic imagery of lowly mateys swabbing the deck has no application on a union-run ship.) 

I know I sound negative.  The ferry system wore me down.

In my desperation, I reapplied for a position with my former employer here in town.  There was an opening forty miles away in another rural area, no ferry required.  I knew I’d have to commit to 3-7 years at that site and I knew that taking the job would shut the door on any chance of finding a life partner.  It didn’t seem a huge sacrifice.  That door is only slightly ajar as it is.

I made the short list and interviewed before a panel of six a few days ago.  I ran into one of the interviewers at a café the next day.  She said, “You blew everyone away!”  No one else came close.

And there it is, I thought.  My future set.

But then she blurted this nugget:  “We knew you wouldn’t want a job that far away.”  My mouth dropped.  I asked her to elaborate.  She said the job responsibilities weren’t enough.  (God forbid, I should have an easy go of things!)  They wanted to save me for a more demanding position that would surface when retirements occurred in 1-3 years.

I abruptly made my exit.  I don’t like to break down in public.  All I could think about was months, years longer, suffering the ridiculous commute.  When they finally “needed” me, would I have anything left to give?

I slept an hour that night.  My dog conveniently chose to stay up with me, battling a little sickness that made me believe he too was ruing a longer sentencing on the ferries.  I hadn’t broken it to him yet, but he read the vibe off me.  Man’s best friend, indeed.

When the official call came the next morning, I could barely contain the seething.  The exec tried to put a positive spin on things, but I wasn’t having any of it.  He told me who got the job, someone I knew.  A nice fellow, yes, but I had far more experience, more education, more knowledge of the structures.  The exec confirmed that I was overqualified even though the positions that would come in a year or two (or three!) pay the same.  “To be clear, we want you,” he said.

I promptly called my realtor and okayed an aggressive price reduction even though we’d just lowered the price two weeks ago.  “Sell it by the end of August,” I demanded.  “Work a miracle.  Just help me get out of here.”

I should be thanking my former employer.  I know accepting a position would have meant a shot of sanity but also a step backward and a lock on a life lived alone.  In due time, I will be grateful.  Ego bruisings heal quickly. 

And a Sold sign will make everything right.


Rick Modien said...

There's so much I want to respond to here.

Like I can't believe your commute is as challenging as it is. I'd be worn out too after all that time.

And I'm so sorry you didn't get the new position. Or am I? Don't you think there might be a good reason why you didn't, one you can't see right now but will become clear in the future? How else can you look at this?

And your house not selling after eighteen months? Wow! That has to be disheartening. I certainly understand why you told your realtor to get it sold.

So let's say the house sells by the end of August. What then? Could you head to the States right away, or do you still have visa issues? Would you rent an apartment in Vancouver and continue working at your present job until the visa came through? (Listen to me. Like any of this is my business.)

Anyway, my fingers and toes are crossed for you. I'm sure everything will work out exactly as it's supposed to, and I'm sure it will all be for the better.

Rural Gay said...

Yes, I know the job here was not meant to be. I've always told myself to go forward, not backward, even if the familiarity of what is "back there" may prove comforting in the short run.

The frustration mounts from time to time as it feels my life is on hold. Maybe moving here was a bad move, but it felt right at the time. I never thought I'd be stuck in a moment.

I try not to look too far ahead. When I first listed the house, I immediately started cleaning out my food cupboards and looking at properties in the Lower Mainland. Now I find those actions to be pointless. I just have to wait things out.

There won't be an immediate move to L.A. if the house should sell in the next year. Despite the fact the rest of my family became American citizens and I have two American degrees and sixteen years lived in the U.S., the authorities are in no rush to process my documents. It's a long queue. No cutting.

This part of my life is intended to teach me patience, a concept I've always repudiated. Seems old dogs can learn new tricks when there are no other choices.