It’s about as cliché as you get, but boy does it ever make you think. Yes, this will be one of Paul’s long-drawn reflections on life.
I resigned from my position with the high school I was teaching at. For a myriad of reasons, I decided I could not continue to burlesque as a teacher when I’m not one. I’ll get into some of those reasons throughout this composition, but some need to percolate in my head a bit longer before I toss them up for judgment.
Now that I’m unemployed in a city I haven’t felt particularly comfortable in, I’m torn about what to do. Do I finish the year here by working in a coffee shop, bookstore, or other ‘entry level’ position? Do I pack my car and go in search of chance? Do I book a flight home, and ‘enjoy’ some sub-zero temperature therapy? This is that quintessential movie-moment where the protagonist has to make a choice that will set the tone for the rest of the film (At least, that’s how I’m looking at it.). The problem is life doesn’t operate like a movie: There’s no guarantee that I get a satisfactory ending. I know that I’m thinking a little too “big picture” and concentrating on what is way off in the uncertain future when I should be thinking about the right-here-and-now (read, looking for a job), but I can’t help it. Also, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. There’s a number of you looking at this thinking “Enough already Paul, you’re not any different from me. I graduated and my immediate thought upon getting my diploma was ‘well now what do I do?!’”
I guess I’m stuck on this because here I am wondering whether what I really did was fail, or if it was an example of making a hard decision, one that doesn’t seem to have a ‘right’ answer or even a ‘best’ answer. Or perhaps my whole framing of life is wrong and theses aren’t even the questions requiring answers.
If I did fail, then how do I ‘get back up?’ What does that look like? By quitting, did I admit defeat and choose to quit the game. Or was quitting the falling down part? How big picture/little picture am I looking? Does it even matter? Ai yai yai, Paul! Enough already, go to the part where you’re not thinking so hard!
Well, fortunately, I can! Between the last paragraph and this one, I took a break and went out to lunch at my favorite restaurant in Baltimore. Gia’s is a tiny, family-owned, Italian joint on a corner in Little Italy. It opened pretty recently, but the word-of-mouth reputation earned by the tiramisu (I would commit a range of felonies to get my hands on it. Fortunately, they sell it, so I don’t have to.) has generated a small body of regulars. Me included. When I sat down, the owner, Gia, was surprised to find me 1.) alone, and 2.) sitting down for food when I should be at school. I told her about quitting and trying to decide what my next steps should be. At some point, she either called her mother, or her mother called the restaurant. That doesn’t matter, the point is, I was given the phone by Gia and found myself talking to “Momma.”
I should side track here for a moment and explain that Momma is often at the restaurant and the two of us hit it off one night. Anytime I ate at Gia’s, Momma takes a few minutes to check in with me and see how life is going.
Ok, so Momma heard that I resigned and demanded that I leave my phone number at the restaurant so she can call a few of her friends and see if there’s anyone around who can help me out with finding some work out here in Baltimore! Yeah, definitely the little bit of sunshine and good fortune I needed to boost my spirits a bit. Add a piece of tiramisu, and it was a good, good start to my afternoon.
Well, after Momma and I chatted, I gave the phone back to Gia, and a couple across the restaurant made a comment along the lines of “so are you the mayor around here, Paul, or what?” Yes, they knew my name. Gia’s father was in the restaurant so she introduced me to him and the couple overheard me. They invited me to join them at their table and we talked for about a half hour. They were in Baltimore (from Rhode Island) to see their son off before he left for Iraq. Dave was a counselor who took a bit of an interest in my story, he gave me his email address and told me I should contact him if I’m ever in the tiniest state in the country. A few words of wisdom later, I was on my way to my present spot. Latte Da. A coffee joint in Fells Point I’ve never entered before, but curiosity pulled me in.
So now, I’m going to hunt for some work and see what comes up. If nothing looks good by mid-February, I’ll probably roll back to the mid-west for a stretch afnd re-figure out my life. We’ll see.