I was in an exciting time of transition and creation of a new life. I was about to start my first job as a lawyer. For weeks, I had been talking to the two partners of a law firm in Hillsborough, North Carolina. We’d met and I had picked out one of their spare offices. We planned to settle the rest of the details on the next day.
While unemployed, I was house-sitting. My friend was returning in a few weeks, so I was looking for a house near the law office. I had answered an ad and had filled out the rental application. My friend, Andy, needed a legal residence so he could deduct travel expenses on a long business trip. He had offered to pay half the rent in exchange for handling his mail and storing his belongings.
With plans for a new job and not knowing where else to enroll her, I had registered my daughter, Ayni, in the elementary school near the law office. It was to be her third year there; she loved Cameron Park and her teachers.
Ayni had spent the summer in Florida with her cousins. She was good company for my elderly grandmother. When my parents brought her back to start school, we met halfway.
Tam, my partner of five years, hitched a ride with my parents, to visit family in Florida. Tam traveled light and left everything in storage. We’d started talking about how to arrange the return trip.
Wednesday, September 21, 1994: The Canvas is Wiped Clean
8:30 Took Ayni to school.
9:30 Call from law partner: The other partner abandoned the office overnight. The firm has dissolved and along with it, my job.
10:30 Call from landlord: He rented the house to someone else.
11:00 Call from my mother: My grandmother died. The funeral is in Florida on Friday.
11:15 Left voicemail for Tam: I’m leaving for Florida. I can pick you up this weekend.
11:20 Return voicemail from Tam, no ring: I’m never returning. Our relationship is over.
1:00 In shock, reeling, I tell a friend that at least one thing anchors my life: Ayni is at Cameron Park Elementary and I can plan around that.
3:00 Picked up Ayni from school: I’m never going back to that school! I hate that teacher! I want to be home-schooled!
4:00 My friend called to say she and the children were on their way home. My housesitting gig was over.
I was jobless, homeless, untethered, alone, shocked, bewildered, and grief-stricken.
The canvas of my life was completely clear.
I survived, and more.
I began to create a whole new life. Homeschooling Ayni set us up for our own cross-country adventures. My friend, Bob, invited me to share a law office with him; we opened February 1. Andy and I started a new relationship. By the end of the year, Andy, Ayni, and I were living together in a blue Victorian three blocks from Cameron Park Elementary. By January semester, Ayni missed her friends and asked to return to school. In May, Andy and I got married on the lawn of our beautiful home. I had a whole new life and was happier than ever.
Now, when I think I am having a bad day and things aren’t working out, I look back on that day. It seemed to be the end of the world, a day of crisis.
Really it was the beginning, the clearing that allowed the miracles to come.