The Other Bus

urlI once heard a writer say that she sometimes mourned The Other Bus.
We’re all on a bus, and it’s heading in a certain direction. Yours might be a career bus, a family bus, a bus with both parents still on it, or maybe a bus with tons of travel. And as you roll along in your own bus, you will see other busses pass. You’ll wonder, even wish, “What would it be like on that bus?” There are days you’ll think you’re going to make a transfer from one bus to another, but you either miss it or find out it wasn’t heading where you wanted to go. It is my belief, though, that if you pay attention, you’ll be on the bus taking you exactly where you’re supposed to be. That doesn’t mean you won’t be sad, even depressed, when The Other Bus passes you by…the one you thought you’d be on.

Last month, I felt divinely guided to re-enter the workforce. The one outside my home. I mentioned in another blog the AGONY of beginning to send out cover letters and resumes when you haven’t done it in 5 years, how feeling like 34 years old is too late to get back in the game. I sent out so many letters and resumes that I actually got good at it. I hit every school that I could think of, google could think of, or that was recommended to me by someone else.
And suddenly…I got a reply.
I got a reply from an amazing woman who I’d worked with a tiny bit when I first moved to this city 7 years ago. She was offering me an interview.

A real life, gosh darned, INTERVIEW. For a JOB.

I was stunned. I actually gasped out loud like they do in cartoons when she confirmed the time. It felt like I moved, and God held up a sign: Keep Moving.
I was about to transfer to a bus I’d watched pass by so many times…

So what did I do? I started preparing for the interview. (Five days before it was supposed to happen.) I printed out plenty of resumes (subsequently running out of printer ink and running out to buy more), and also printed the email exchange we had and paper-clipped it neatly in a file folder. I picked out an outfit and played with my hair until I found a comfortable but proper hairstyle. I bought bells. Why? Because I told her I’d “be there with bells on”, and I do what I say I’m going to do. I paced my house practicing my responses to common interview questions. I researched the school to learn how I could align my skills with their missions. I researched the job and became clear about which parts I’d already experienced and which parts would be new to me so I could give them an honest scope of what I could offer right off the bat. I got up at 6:15am this morning, 5 hours early, and practiced my interview again so that when I was asked anything, I would have something in my mind to pull from.
I truly wanted them to see that I’d taken this seriously. I’ve been on enough theatre auditions to know that the outcome wouldn’t be correlated to my ability, but rather what it was they were looking for in a person. I could handle rejection. I just wanted to give it my best shot; a chance to get on that bus.

At 8:30am, that same amazing woman emailed me to say that the school decided they no longer wished to fill the vacant position.

And that was that.
Zoom.
The bus didn’t even stop.

I spent the rest of the day, seated at the proverbial bus stop, waiting for someone to come pick me up, crying. I cried most of the day, in between day-dreaming about the way my day could have gone. Day-dreaming about different busses I could be riding. A career bus. A bus full of kids. A bus that doesn’t have any kids and can fly anywhere in the world…

Let me make one thing clear: I know I’m lucky. I work from home. Most people would die to do that. I have healthy kids. I myself am healthy. My bus isn’t a terrible bus to be on. But I think it’s ok that, every once in a while, we acknowledge The Other Bus, a life we didn’t choose (or one that didn’t stop for us), and we just get to be sad about it. I’m on this bus and I have all these skills, all this education, and I don’t really ever get use any of it. I get to PAY for it once a month in the form of a student loan check. But I very rarely get to use it. So yes…today I mourn the passing career bus with all the women who have kids and careers.. (And I’ll bet they’re mourning my bus as it passes, too.) I’ll probably give myself one more day to feel sorry for myself, and then I’ll get back on my bus to see where it goes.

Some people become obsessed with The Other Bus. They spend their entire lives switching busses, trying to find the right one. They never just sit down on a bus to see where it takes them. I’m trying not to do that. I’m trying to let God lead me to the next stop without pulling on that little string that hangs over the windows. I’ve literally never seen one of those little strings in real life. Did they ever really exist?

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