!. You can go "home" again.
2. Just because friends don't call you doesn't mean you shouldn't call them. Maybe they're giving you space and maybe you hurt them just a tiny bit.
3. Three years is a long time and not very long at all.
4. You have to ask for the job.
5. There may be hope for me yet.
6. Lots of things don't change in your absence. Lots of things do.
7. One person's small action can set off a chain of events they don't even realize they triggered. There's a story there. I know, it's been done.
8. It is possible for someone to disappear without an Invisibility Cloak or faking their own death.
9. Old friends fall quickly into established patterns when they're reunited.
10. As much as I hate to admit it and even more, I hate to do it, it's very good for me to get out of my charming domestic box with its cat hair lining and ironed curtains.
New readers don't remember when I used to write about work, but some of you will remember the old job where I used to travel with a small, tightly-knit band of rowdies who liked to party late into the night. My role was noisemaker, singles stuffer into g-strings, cheerleader, herder of cats, director of traffic and den mother. Now doesn't that sound more fun than being the Executive Director of a small professional association of people who manage something?
Yesterday, I went as a guest to my old association's luncheon and saw a lot of old friends and acquaintances. I didn't know what to expect since the last time I saw these people, my life was coming apart. After I left that job, I stopped talking to those folks because I was a little hurt and I was embarrassed about my situation. So when I wrote one of the past presidents to ask him for a reference, he said of course and also invited me to the luncheon. I was afraid to go, but just like he used to when we worked together as partners, he insisted in his way. He often knew what was best when I couldn't see the forest for the trees.
It took me no time at all to get my networking legs back. There were handshakes and hugs and many questions about where I'd "disappeared" to. Most of these people thought I'd gone to New York. They didn't know I'd stayed for only one day.
I glossed over the details and collected business cards and suggestions for where to look for work. A recruiter asked me to call her. I even got hired by one of my old friends to do some freelance writing and editing.
I learned about the changes in some of my friends lives and oohed and aahed over photos of kids, lost weight and job promotions. The most familiar moment came when the featured speaker, a Georgia State Representative, was giving his speech. I was seated between two past presidents. The one who insisted I come and the other with whom I once drove from Atlanta to New Orleans. Mr. Insist leaned over and whispered "Your job is to ask during Q and A if he's ever tweeted photos of his privates."
I laughed, drawing the attention of my other president so, of course, I had to repeat the joke to her. They both leaned in and I shared with them that I'd learned to be more subtle than that. I would just raise my hand and ask for the State Rep's Twitter handle.
One said to the other, that's why she's the writer.
As we chatted in the parking lot afterward, Mr. Insist talked about finding happiness and wondering if he would ever find it. He asked me what had taken me so long to get in touch. I could think of many reasons, but I didn't have an answer. I changed the subject. I told him how I'd been thinking that it was our meeting at a national training for the parent organization back in 2002 that led him to recruit me for the job in Georgia so that my family moved here and all the things that had happened as a result.
He wanted to know if I blamed him?
Blame him? No. How could I? But it made me think of how our actions, no matter how insignificant they seem at the time, have ripple effects we'll probably never be aware of.
Promises were made to not be a stranger and we said goodbye. I drove home and emailed gratitude and resumes to the people who requested one. I got in touch with the fellow who hired me to help him with writing and editing. I wouldn't let another three years go by.