A New Chapter (Part 5)

handsedit copy

Today was my last day at the company where I’ve worked my entire career.

I thought I’d at least feel a little bit sad, sentimental or sappy, but… nope. None of that. I tried to be intentional about making mental pictures as I walked through the office hallways for the last time, but I am completely and utterly relieved, at peace and basically just excited for a new life chapter!

I haven’t been telling many of my coworkers where I’m headed next, mostly because of either their anticipated judgement or the actual judgement I have faced from the few people I’ve told. When they find out I’m planning on eventually going to teaching, most of my corporate colleagues think I’m either incompetent (“she couldn’t cut it in the business world”) or think I was unwise to resign without another job lined up (“girl, what were you thinking?!”). Those who know I’m going into teaching are generally incredulous at the huge pay cut I’ll be taking, but – to quote Zac Brown Band – “there’s no dollar sign on a peace of mind.”

After I sent out my farewell note to everyone, I got a flooding of emails back, most of which asked me what I’m doing next. After an eight-year career in procurement, I was amazed at the number of people who erroneously guessed that I’m going into a field related to art or music. For a woman who has spent her career working in oil & gas surrounded by engineers and business professionals, I evidently have quite a reputation for being “artsy”!

“I know you will be very successful on your new career. Are you sharing what the new career is? Church? Singing? Photography?”

“I hope you are pursuing something in art as I know how talented you are in that area and how much you love it!”

“I always admired your capacity and ability to manipulate data and pull out tremendous insights, apart from your arty talents of coarse!”

“You are one of the most talented writers I know.”

“I knew after listening to you sing in the acapella group that you’d start your own band someday. Are you headed off to China? Or headed back to school on in an art program?”

“Enjoy your path and keep in touch.  Let me know when you have a gig at a local club.”

“My friend is opening up a new craft beer bar…  Let me know if you are for hire.”

Last week, I met up with my friend and coworker Farah for one last lunch. She said everyone’s been asking her about me, namely to ask what I’ll be doing next and then to comment, “I’m surprised it took her this long. She’s always been so miserable here.”

It really hurt my feelings to hear that I was apparently so visibly miserable. I thought I did an okay job at least just shrugging and rolling my eyes at the corporate bureaucracy like everyone else. And I was hurt that people said it felt like it took me forever to find another job. I was looking for another job for years, and – in the moment Farah shared this with me – it made me feel like a perceived failure that I couldn’t land another job for so long. But I had to remind myself of God’s faithfulness and purpose in keeping me at this other company for so many years of searching for something else.

Fortunately, Farah stood up for me in those conversations, telling my would-be insulters, “You’re miserable here. We’re all miserable here. All the things Aurora has said and felt are all the things you complain about all the time. At least she’s doing something about it!   You say you’re surprised at how long it took her to leave, but you’re still here and just as miserable as she was!”

It was nice to hear Farah’s defense of me, and it was really nice to hear from all the people who felt inspired by me and told me so. Multiple people told me privately that they think what I’m doing is brave and courageous. They told me it was inspiring to see someone walk away from the golden handcuffs of our outrageous salaries, easy jobs and comfortable lifestyle to do something they’re actually passionate about.

A young employee who already has a side hustle told me in confidence, “You’re actually making me rethink staying here.” One of my first friends ever at this company – the girl who showed me around Brussels during my first week of training – said privately, “I’m so jealous of you.” And my sweet mentee, who I meet for coffee once a week, admitted quietly, “I wish I were that brave.” You can be, I told her. And maybe you will be, I said with a smile.

A few years ago, our company constructed some new buildings on a central campus in town. I was in charge of facilitating the office move for our department, and in the final stages of the migration, my friend Valerie and I went over the to the new campus to prayer walk. I know this agnostic-run, European company would have had a fit if they knew we were walking through the brand new buildings and praying over them, but Val and I – mavericks that we are – decided to be bold in praying for God to be glorified in those buildings and our workplace. At a company as international as this, you don’t have to go to the nations; the nations are brought to you.

And so in my last moments in that new building, I again looked out over the campus and prayed one more time that God’s name would be glorified there; that many diverse nations would be brought in to work here, and that every people, tribe, tongue and nation on this campus would come to know Him intimately and personally.

And then I turned from the window, rode the elevator down, and walked out of that building forever. My work here is complete.

Authentically Aurora

Advertisements

Tangled Up in Flynn

Lunch with FlynnI ran into Flynn at the office today. And last week. And the week before. We’ve been seeing each other a lot, completely unplanned and unanticipated. 

Last week, I walked with Jo Ann to pick up her diaper bag from our on-site lactation room, and we bumped into him while waiting in line to walk through the building’s revolving doors. As I have recently befriended Patricia, Flynn’s ex who was his girlfriend during our period of mutual interest, my feelings for him have faded somewhat, but my stomach still flip-flopped when I saw him in the office cafeteria this afternoon. He had already spotted me and was watching my winding path through the tables as I walked with my tray.

I was supposed to meet Jo Ann and Farah for lunch, but I didn’t see them yet, so I made my way toward Flynn, who was sitting alone for once. “You’re eating alone?!” I asked in a teasing voice as I got closer. He is normally a social butterfly.

He shrugged with a smile, “I have no friends!”

I raised an eyebrow. “I know that’s not true. I’m waiting for some girlfriends. Can I keep you company until they show up?”

“Sure, pull up a chair!” he gestured to the empty seat beside him.

“So how’s your lady friend?” I asked as I sat down, referencing the full-figured blonde I’ve seen in his Facebook photos lately. I wanted him to know that my joining him was not an attempt to pick him up; I knew he was taken.

“I don’t have one,” he said between bites of sandwich.

My surprise showed on my face. “What about that girl in all of your pictures?”

“Oh, you mean Josie?” He waved his hand and made an it’s-no-big-deal face. “We broke up. It was never really anything serious.”

“Oh… so who’s next on the docket?” I asked without missing a beat. Flynn is never without a girlfriend for long.

“I’m looking at her,” he said with a devilish grin that instantly changed into an embarrassed smile. “Sorry–”

“You’re such a player!” I laughed, making light of the comment. He hasn’t changed a bit.

We just looked at each other for a moment; then I added, “It might be good for you to have a season of singleness. You tend to go from one relationship right into another.”

“I know,” he said, head down. His expression told me that he really did know. “I don’t know how to be single. I tend to go from one intense relationship to another. It would be nice to have something casual and low-pressure. That’s what Josie was supposed to be, but she got really intense really fast. She was asking all of these questions…” he paused; then went on, “That’s actually why I backed off from you after Patricia.”

He grinned in fond recollection. “We would have gone on one date and been done.” And by the way he raised one eyebrow with the word done, I could tell that he meant we had ridiculous chemistry and would have mutually gone off the deep end in utter infatuation and intensity if we had even gone on one date together.

“I know.” I smiled back at him. There was a natural break in the conversation, so I pushed back from the table and said, “Well, I’d better go find those girls I’m supposed to be lunching with.”

As I stood, Flynn laughed and said, “See? Casual conversation?” he gestured low with his right hand. “Intense conversation.” He gestured high with his left hand; then whistled as he arched his right hand up the imaginary curve to intense conversation. 

I just laughed. “See you later.”

When I got back to my desk half an hour later, I had a text message from Flynn:

“So if you think we can curb the intensity for one night, you want to be my date tonight to Newsies?”

I would love to see that musical, and I would love to be Flynn’s date, but I already have a date planned tonight with Jared. He’s making me dinner at his place; then he wants to snuggle and watch a movie.

“Ha! I think we can try to curb the intensity! …but I already have plans tonight. That said, if you ever find yourself in need of a +1, I’m game.”

I wanted him to know I wasn’t completely uninterested, but I also wasn’t about to cancel on Jared.

I could see the “…” indicating Flynn was typing a reply; then he stopped and erased it. Then the “…” started again; then stopped. Finally he simply wrote, “Duly noted!”

It’s probably for the best that we’re not going out. It wouldn’t be very good for my budding friendship with Patricia. Also… we could probably both do with a season of singleness.

Authentically Aurora

CyberStalk Inc.

Online Dating

When I cancelled my online dating subscription last week, I was trying to get away from the drama and soul-crushing disappointment in humanity that I experienced as a result of subjecting myself to love algorithms.

My friend Farah suggested that I try MeetUp instead. It’s an online networking tool that connects users with local interest groups – no matching; no messaging; no awkward dates. It’s just a gathering of soon-to-be-friends who share hobbies and live in the same city. So Farah and I signed up together and have planned to attend our first joint social gathering next week. I figured, if nothing else, it would make for a great blog post. Little did I know that MeetUp is secretly yet another dating site.

Take Grant, for instance. He is reminiscent of online dating’s very own Spring Butt.

Grant1

Yeah, I guessed that from the blue text beside your photo that says “Grant”. 

Grant2

First of all, why are you continuing this conversation? Secondly, this sounds like my attempt at German in high school. “Hallo! Ich heisse Aurora. Ich have braune haare. Ich mochte volleyball spielen.”

Grant3

Do I know you? And if not, why are you sending me enthusiastic messages without any encouragement from me whatsoever?

Grant5b

“I’m awful at it.” Way to sell yourself there, buddy.

I finally messaged the poor guy back to let him know that I was going to be out of town (for my oh-so-memorable weekend in Boston), and – as expected – Grant was very prompt in checking in on Monday morning:

Grant7

*Sigh. Please, Grant. Develop some self respect.

Also, this just in from Moe:

Moe2

Moe pic

And John:

John2

Hey, John! Oh, I don’t know… being messaged on MeetUp by a complete stranger with no profile description and an image of a Jeep for his profile picture. That’s not creepy or suspicious at all!

At least Moe had a real photo of himself, frightening though it may be.