Paul traveled to Bend yesterday for the interview. He left in plenty of time, but got caught in construction while going over Mt. Hood, and made it to the interview without a minute to spare. He said the interview went great. He couldn’t have done better.
They’re supposed to call today.
I can’t think. Or focus. Or do anything really useful. I just wait.
Yesterday, my mom called. She laughingly related how she told my grandma and my aunt, “Danielle’s got a husband in Bend, interviewing, a daughter in Camas, playing volleyball, and she’s living in Kelso.”
“Well, honey, I gotta go … I have to …”
Sarcasm is my forte. I said, “Thanks, Mom, for pointing out how pathetic my life is and then rushing off the phone.” We both laughed then.
Paul returned late last night after visiting his parents and Trog. The next morning, he had to get up and be in Ridgefield by 6:30. Then, he went to Portland to work.
I’m still waiting. Waiting.
12:30. I call Paul. Any news?
We’ve come to believe that no news is bad news. Employers are always eager to offer jobs. They aren’t so eager to reject prospects. There’s the awkward apology, the empty gestures of well-wishing, the guilty feeling of knowing this man has a family to support and they aren’t doing anything about it. Most just avoid the task altogether. Though Paul had a good interview at Hood River, they never called, though they promised they would. Weasels. Some districts have automated rejections. Snakes. The Dalles had enough decency to write a personal letter. Still, the call is the braver, more upstanding thing to do. It relieves the interminable waiting for the suitor and perhaps causes them to carry a little of the burden. It gives us a messenger to kill. A place to point a finger. Though it isn’t deeply satisfying, it provides a momentary fierce exultation to say, “You jerk! Paul is perfectly qualified for this position. He has a family to support! What did you do? Hire some young college graduate who could much more easily move in with his parents than we could?”
My personality is the type to force the issue. If they said they’d call, and didn’t, I’d get some secret satisfaction in calling them up and pointedly asking about their decision, and listen as they explain their choice. I’d enjoy every long silence. Every justification. Every bumbling explanation.
Paul’s personality is the type to avoid such confrontations. He’d just rather patiently wait until the rejection is glaringly obvious.
It drives me crazy. I’d want to know. If you say you’re going to call tomorrow, then call. And if you don’t, I’ll call and remind you of your promise, and ensure you keep your promise. And know!
But there’s no knowing yet. And I must just wait. It’s not my issue to force, though it affects us all greatly. Perhaps they had one more interview this morning? It seems they would wait and decide the issue right away. And they would be excited to share the good news. They wouldn’t be casual about it when so much is riding on their decision, would they?
The fact that they haven’t called yet is not a good sign. Paul knows this. I could hear the defeat in his voice when I called. Well, maybe it is a little strong to say defeat. Acceptance. He seemed ready to work harder at the job he’s got. Caulking. Building forms for cement.
But maybe they’ll call still. That hope that has proven itself to be so annoying in hindsight is creeping in. Maybe they’ll call. My heart prepares itself for another roller-coaster ride. Another lift to the top and terrifying crash to the bottom.
Or maybe we’ll just fly into the deep blue sky like a dream and we’ll find ourselves floating. But like all my flying dreams, the exhilaration is momentary. If there is a palpitation of fear, I sink toward the ground. If I try too hard, I sink. If I relax too much, I sink. There’s a marriage of tension and relaxation that keeps me afloat. Sometimes I find it. Sometimes I don’t.
I haven’t had a flying dream in a long time. It’s been years, maybe.
I did have another dream that was so strange. I dreamed that Paul and I were at a condo without the kids in some out of the way place — exotic, even. There were birds and plants I didn’t recognize. Dave, his brother was there, with his girlfriend. My parents were there. Friends were there. It was a big party. There were two babies, different ages, not siblings, that were just crawling around. I couldn’t find the parents. And they were poopy. Up-the-back poopy. So I changed them both and put them in new pajamas.
Then, I got a call to substitute. With a sigh of resignation, I realized that I couldn’t turn down work. It was hard to leave the party at the condo and go to work. Everyone else was sleeping in, with a plan to enjoy a day at the lake.
I went to catch the bus in plenty of time … and realized I forgot to put on my pants. I was mortified. So, I ran home to get fully dressed and when I returned to the bus stop, I had missed it.
I guessed I’d have to walk. I still had time to get to the school, which was just about a mile off. It was lush, hilly-country covered in grasses and deciduous trees. It was sunny. The air was balmy. And, at the low points, it was marshy. At first, I was able to hop across the wet parts, but then, it became impossible. I could see the school in the distance and a little knoll, but to get there, I had to wade across a flooded stretch of land, perhaps even swim.
I guess I would just show up wet. It was warm. I’d dry. It’d be better than not showing up at all.
As I was about to step into the water, a movement to my left caught my eye. A man dressed in the Kamiz Shalwar (dress and trousers) and wearing a linen turban was throwing doves into the air and watching where they flew and landed. His back was to me, but he turned back to look at me and warned,
I wouldn’t try and cross that without using a dove.
I thought, superstitious nonsense.
But I remembered when I read Papillon about the treacherous mud flats and swamps of South America that took the life of a fellow escapee when he stepped off the raft too soon. I also remembered the murderous criminal who kept alive and safe from capture by releasing his little pig and following its steps exactly. The safe crossings were always changing and it took a smart animal’s sense to stay alive.
Maybe the doves provided the same service?
I tried to catch a few doves. The only bird that did not evade my capture was a tiny white one, bobbing in the swamp, its downy head tucked into its wing. I must have scared off its mother. I couldn’t toss that harmless creature into the air. I couldn’t use it.
Then I woke up.
I don’t know what that dream means or if it means anything or why I wrote it at all. It really doesn’t make any sense. But I’m just passing the time, and writing stream-of-consciousness because it provides a moment of escape, because I’m waiting for a call from Paul that would release me from this prison of suspense.
They may never call.
And they may call.
I want a path to run on. A place to call home. An identity. A settling. Pioneering is overrated. Adventures are bothersome. Why did I ever romanticize them before? I’d rather be living a prosy little life making sandwiches and chatting on the phone in my slippers.
That’s the problem with adventures. You don’t choose them.
They choose you.