Yesterday I'd just crossed the street after a long light and was about to heave up the last hill of the half-mile trek to my bus-stop home when I heard someone hollering my name. Weird! I turned and looked and looked and looked... And then: About a block back was my old library boss from 13 years ago peering at me and smiling.
"Hi T---!" I yelled and waved, then turned back around and continued the march to my stop. Feeling suddenly happy to have seen her, but then pissed off at myself: "What the hell is wrong with you? Why didn't you go back and say hello??"
2000, the year I left the library, was a definite turning point, a cut-off point, in my life. A pleasant environment, but a complete dead end. The pay so low, the hope for advancement so low, the lazy (yet annoyingly superior for no reason that I could see) attitude of most of the people there... Working there at that point felt utterly deadening to me -- I felt antsy, better, "destined for greater things." And I'd been there, off and on, since 1983; my first part-time college job was shelving books on the floor that I ended up supervising. 2000 was the year I left for good, to work for a publishing company. I never wanted to look back at that library-part of my life because I was so miserable during most of it.
This boss, though, was always very cool. Smart, very good at her job, understanding, sympathetic. Doing her best to deal with both me and HER boss, whom I was constantly at odds with (because he was so illogical and lazy, let me say). We'd often spend hours talking in her office, about her family (and my shallow relationship problems) -- to this day I remember what really turns her husband on! :) I also remember hurting her feelings once when I was going on and on at work about a party I was going to have at my house that weekend. I didn't invite her because I thought she, with a husband and child, wouldn't be interested in coming. She, though, thought I didn't invite her because she was black. :(
When I gave my notice in 2000, she had been out for a month with medical problems. So her boss, the dumb/lazy guy that I did not respect, gave me my final evaluation. His evaluation was bad. My written response to it was bad. I left there hating him and the whole lazy-ass place, vowing to never look back. But regretting that I couldn't have parted with HER on better terms. I've thought about her many times in the 13 years since I left: how decent she was under difficult circumstances, how I didn't behave very well at work (me arguing constantly about EVERYTHING, even parking) because I was so unhappy with my life...
So now here we are yelling "hi!" at each other, 13 years later! :) Today, I immediately e-mailed her (looked her up on the university directory), saying sorry for running off (had to catch that bus), but let's get together for lunch and catch up before my temp job ends in October. She e-mailed back, yes let's.
The first thing I will do when I see her again is apologize for how obnoxiously I acted when I worked there.
About the above: Just thinking about how, in general, we often wish (pray) we had a chance to go back and give something another shot. ("I'll do better next time, I swear!") Thing is, we're being kind of disingenuous: We don't exactly mean the quite reasonable "Just give me another chance." We mean, rather, the UNreasonable: "Just make everything perfect next time."
I had my second chance with my first girlfriend 7 years later. I had my second chance with Sandra 22 years later. Sandra had her second chance with Jim also decades later. What we all got was a re-hash of the un-ease of the first time. (Physical things and life situations of a person might change, but I don't know that the energy field around a person changes.) Hey, we all got the second chance per heartfelt request, though. That's completely fair. Thanks, Universe.