We're doing the part I usually hate, but is actually going pretty well... kinda; trying to make future plans.
After "hey, you're in my city!" drinks turned into dinner, turned into more drinks, turned into cannolis, we're sitting in a tiny dive bar, oversized chairs pulled close, each with two phones spread across our laps.
"What about brunch next Saturday?" he asks me.
"I'm working. Can you do dinner?" He checks phone number 1.
"Have a dinner already. You can meet me for drinks after."
"Come to the city at some undetermined time whenever it is you finish dinner? Nah. What about Thursday?"
"I leave for London Wednesday night."
We go back and forth awhile, checking calendars and projects and before we know it, we've made it to February.
"I don't mean to be presumptuous, but, Valentine's Day?"
"I'm on the road. What about the week after?"
"Can you do Tuesday? I have a late meeting but should be done by 6."
"I've got a 5:30. I could maybe come after that."
We stop and look at each other a moment and burst into laughter.
"This is fucking ridiculous. I just wanna buy you dinner," he says shaking his head. I giggle at his incredulousness but deep down I know this is The Moment.
I'd been wondering if, when, it might come. It's been waiting in the wings, listening for its cue, patiently hanging around backstage through Act 1 at Job That Was International and 24/7/365 and all the crazy up and downs therein. There was a brief reprieve at intermission, at Regular Job With Regular Workload on a Regular U.S. Schedule Doing Regular Shit.
But now I'm in Act 2. And Act 2 is Crazy Rare Dream Job You Landed Against all Odds Where You Get to Do All the Things. This is when shit really gets real. Where most days are a 10 hour or more day and I only unplug to sleep and I'm on the road for weeks at a time.
And I love it.
But it brings me Here. Here is where I always wondered if I'd end up. When I was young and arrogant and stupid, Here was something I just knew I'd manage perfectly, finding a way to Do it All™ and make it look easily. When I got older and less stupid (still stupid, just less so), I wondered if I'd have to choose between my Everest professional ambitions and my personal life.
And Here I am. I can't even manage to schedule a fucking date.
The irony of course is that I'm finally, actually trying. After purposefully not dating for 6 months (which turned into 7 because it got REALLY GOOD) I am finally being intentional and deliberate about how I spend my time and with whom I spend it. I'm being open. I'm putting myself out there. I'm fucking trying.
What has it gotten me?
A string of amazing dates 5 weeks before I picked up my whole life and moved it 800 miles away. One guy I stopped talking to because it was clear he was going to be trash in bed. And this, needing to schedule dinner 6 weeks in advance just so we'll both, you know, be there.
We find a random Saturday at the end of February that works for us. He'll make the plans. And because I am trying, I will try not to become so consumed with my work that I don't match his effort to away connected in the meantime or become uninterested.
But the truth is, I don't think I'm at a place where I want to prioritize my love life over my professional one. Here, landing my dream job and standing on the precipice of everything great I've ever fucking wanted, I don't know that I'm prepared to take any energy away from that pursuit. I'm already so far behind.
"I look forward to it," I tell him with my most endearing La smile, and while that's true, everything in my body is telling me we'll never make it to date #2.
Because sometimes no matter how hard you try, the game is the game.
I'm driving home later, winding through the city, back over the bridge, and thinking about Here. Here is where I've always wanted to be. And lord knows I've worked so hard and suffered so much just to get here. And so much of this next chapter of my life is blank pages; I never knew to write this far because I don't know that I ever actually believed I'd make it. This is the only part of my life I've ever thrown myself into without a plan.
And it feels like Here is a choice; I can be all in or all out, but I can't straddle the fence of something truly big and amazing and more than I ever imagined and wondering if I should have settled for easy, quieter, more secure.
I'm all in, I decide somewhere halfway over the bridge. I'm all in for me, for this job I've been circling and working towards for ten years, for being twice as good to get half as far.
I've made my choice. I just have no idea what that looks like.
But maybe that's the whole point.