So the Ukrainian business man who I tutor in English just bought a few wineries in Greece and is going to start exporting Greek wine to the U.S. (Apparently Greek wines are similar to, if not better than, Italian wines.) He asked if I would be interested in being his assistant for this new venture. I could do a lot of the work from home, but it would also involve traveling to New York and Greece on occasion. He’d pay me 70K a year to start, plus travel expenses. He warned me that for the first year or so things were going to be very busy, and I probably wouldn’t have time to write. I told him I’d think about it.
When I got off of Skype, my brain was spinning. On the one hand, I feel like I’m finally gaining some steam with my writing career. But on the other hand, this is an incredible opportunity to travel and experience something I would have never imagined doing. The money’s not bad either. I think I’m going to say yes.
This is, in essence, the email I sent to my mom and my boyfriend on Tuesday. Paul called me back a few hours later. “I’ve been thinking about your email all day,” he said. “I mean, whoa. This is huge. So you think you want to do it? You’re not going to be a writer anymore?”
He kept on talking, and I wondered how long I should let him babble. When he finally paused, I took a deep breath and said, “April Fools!”
There was silence on the other end of the line.
“Oh. Oh. So… there’s not… so, he didn’t…”
“I’m sorry!” I felt awful for tricking him. “Aw… you wanted to go to Greece, didn’t you?” (In my email to Paul I had mentioned that maybe there would be a way for both of us to go to Greece together.)
“OK. Well. I guess I better get back to work.” He sounded disappointed, and I realized I was sort of disappointed, too.
* * *
My mom also fell for it. Her email response came later: “Wow! Just wow!” I had to email her back right away and tell her it was a joke. For the rest of the day I felt sort of sick to my stomach. I realize that I hate April Fool’s. I feel bad when I get tricked, and I feel bad when I trick someone else. It’s a lose-lose situation.
But in a way, I also felt bad that I hadn’t been offered an amazing job opportunity. I realized that if this had actually happened, I probably would have said yes. And what does that mean about my commitment to writing? What does that mean about my life ? Am I fooling myself into thinking that what I want is to be a writer? Am I not actually happy doing what I’m doing?
Recently my friend Nikki sent me an email outlining a “visioning process” for life organization based on a weekend workshop she attended. She said that the process could help me make decisions about how to best lead my life. That sounded good to me.
So the other day I decided to try it. Except that I couldn’t do it. There were steps like “do some free movement/dance – pay attention to your body and the music and the way they communicate” and “write down your Needs, Purpose, Principles, and People on a blank piece of paper – it is good to get creative here with drawings, collages, colors, fancy writing.”
I actually like making collages and doing interpretive dances, but when someone tells me to do it as part of a hippie visioning process, I can’t seem to take it seriously.
I told Nikki that maybe I’d be able to do this process if I were on a retreat with other people, or maybe I need to be in a different mind-set than the one I’m in now. In any case, I didn’t do much with the visioning process except take a walk and think about the different questions asked in each step.
During the step on Purpose you are supposed to meditate on the following questions: Why am I here? Why do I live each day? The first question was a bit overwhelming, but the second question struck me as a really important thing to ponder. Why do I live each day? Why do I get up in the morning? Why is each day important to me?
As I walked around the neighborhood, I came up with a lot of answers. I live each day to learn and improve. I live each day to better understand how to love and how to connect with others. I live each day to experience new things and find ways to admire and wonder at the world. I live each day to search for truths both inside and outside of myself.
And as I was walking around the pea patch in Trolley Hill park, a more specific idea came to me: I live each day for stories.
That’s why I want to travel. That’s why I try to connect with people. That’s why I like to listen to podcasts and read books and write blog posts. I do it for the stories. Because stories help me learn. They help me understand how to love. They help me experience new things and search for truths and find ways to wonder at the world.
So many of the things I’ve done in my life I’ve done for the stories. I dated a homeless guy just for the story (okay, also because he was hot). I took trapeze lessons for the story. I once let a drunk guy in Mexico cut my hair, just for the story. Come to think of it, I’ve taken jobs (SoCo shot girl, orthodontic assistant, bar trivia hostess) at least in part because I thought they’d make good stories one day.
And there is my epiphany.
That’s the reason I would have taken the job with Sergiy, had it been real. Not because I actually want to be a business woman. Not because I’m unhappy with my life and would rather be a wine exporter. But because it would give me new experiences that I could write about later. If I had taken that made-up job, it would not have been a denouncement of my writing career, it would simply be part of my story research. I would work for Sergiy for a year or so and then quit so I could write a book set at a Greek winery.
I’m pretty much over feeling bad that I tricked my mom and Paul on Tuesday. And I’m glad to know that I’m not fooling myself either. I’m a writer, and I live each day for the stories.