My stomach dropped. It's the only way I can explain it. I read the email, and my stomach plummeted; not because it was bad news, but because an invitation had been issued by a very kind person, and I had a feeling I wouldn't be avoiding it this time.
Pen: "You have to go with her."
Kate: "I can't."
Pen: "You're an idiot."
Kate: "I know."
Pen: "This collision has been coming for a while, and eventually the Universe is going to stop giving you these chances."
Kate: "I know."
Pen: "Are you going?"
Kate: "Is that a clinical term?"
Pen: "Yes. Now either say you are going, or get out of my office."
(Pen bangs head on desk)
That exchange was more or less what took place immediately following the receipt of the invitation. You see, apparently people react with excitement when opportunity knocks. When opportunity knocks on my door, I dive out the window… run down the block… get on a boat… find an isolated island and pretend like I never knew the opportunity existed. Avoidance, thy name is Kate.
It's not that it wasn't something I wanted. Deep down, I had wanted this chance for years. But I wanted to control it. I wanted to be seen as a professional. I wanted to at least seem like a calm, collected peer. I wanted to appear not like some cloying sycophant, but as a reasoned individual with something to offer. And I was convinced that all other opportunities would come crashing to a halt if I pursued an avenue that wasn't the "perfect" meeting, "perfect" scenario, "perfect" conversation, "perfect" opening line, "perfect"… "perfect"… "perfect"…
Not surprisingly, "perfect" never came. I passed up opportunity after opportunity because my immediate inclination was to choose fear instead. Fear, I understand. Fear, I can plan for. Fear, I can worry about until every angle is covered. Fear is infinitely more familiar. Worry has become comfortable.
Possibility, on the other hand, almost made me sick.
And then for no reason I can explain, I was suddenly getting the day off from work. I was saying, "yes".
Before I knew it, I was standing there looking out at the ocean and wondering what the hell I had done—and was there any way to undo it. Had I been alone, I probably would have run.
"Hi. I'm David."