A colleague of mine is visiting from beautiful Seattle this weekend. A colleague who was in graduate school with me, who shares professional interests, lab space and even the same advisor. In a sense, I guess we are family; sisters. In fact, my academic colleagues are the longest relationship I’ve ever had, except for my relationship with my parrots.
I am happy about this visit, but I am also quite depressed about it.
I know it is not healthy to compare my life to anyone else’s, that doing this is only asking for trouble, but at this point, it is difficult not to make comparisons because of our shared academic history. We earned our PhDs from the same lab approximately one year apart, but this is where our similarities end. Unlike me, she is gainfully employed in a meaningful job in the field, she has a loving marriage and still has her pets, her parents and family love her, she lives in Seattle in the loving embrace of her friends and last but not least, she is a talented writer.
This weekend has been excruciating because I want to show my colleague and her husband a good time, I want them to enjoy their visit to my beloved city and I want them to enjoy all the wonders that my former employer has to offer, but at the same time, I simply want to die. I want to die because it is obvious to everyone that I lack everything that makes life worth living: I fear I have nothing to offer.
Well, my office phone is ringing. They are calling, they are here. The curtain goes up. Bright lights burn my eyes, blinding me.
(108pm) NO! That phone call was not them after all, it was the chairman of a university search committee for a tenure-track position, calling me to set up a telephone interview for this week. Wha ... interview??
(530pm) They arrived, my colleague and her husband. They had a great time and now they are leaving. I watch them from my office window, four floors above as they put their luggage into their taxi. I am so sad, I miss them (how can I miss them? They were only with me for a few hours!), I don't want them to go. I wish I was getting on that plane with them, it would be so easy to go back, I want to go back to my former life that I painstakingly built, back to my former life where I had a flock of friends and a flock of birds and a community that needed and respected me, but if I left this, my other beloved home in defeat, what then? My former life is gone forever, I cannot reclaim it by simply returning to the place where it was located, I have to rebuild it the best way I know, here, in this place that I love.
© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist