My job search continued, even though it felt hopeless. But I remembered seeing a job opening at a middle school in the Longview Independent School District when I checked all the openings last week. I had looked it over since it was in the forbidden application area set up by my parents. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. And at this point with about two weeks out from school starting, what did it hurt to send in an application? This late in the game, maybe I would actually be considered. I had already sent out 100 applications, what difference would 101 make?
Because of the location of this school, Longview, I didn’t want to apply for the job opening while at my parents’ house. I wanted to avoid any potential friction. I was nervous that if I was in the process of doing so and my mother or father walked in, it might spark a whole new argument. And I had reached my limit on lectures, arguments, disagreements, and disappointments with them. This entire situation was beyond uncomfortable. I did not like feeling like I had to sneak around and be elusive about applying for a job. I was doing the very thing my parents had been harping about all summer. But as usual, everything must be handled on their terms, on their time table and in their idealized reality of my life.
What were my alternatives? Play it their way, limit myself, live at home for a year and make all of us miserable. Or, do what I believed was best for my sanity, spread my wings and find a way out. Which ultimately, I hoped would leave both parties better off in the long run. I honestly couldn’t think of anything I had left to lose by taking one last stab at escaping. I had already lost everything. Everything except my sense of self, which would be stripped away if I didn’t get out. And soon.
A few days passed by and I found myself on a Monday afternoon at Cassey’s. I sat in front of the computer and filled out an application for a middle school Special Education teaching job. Middle School was not my first choice of grade level; my degree was in elementary education. But I needed to start somewhere, and the assignment was in Special Education which was what I wanted to teach. Plus, I doubted I would even hear back from this school. So I sent in my application and then sent a follow up email to the assistant principal.
Cassey and I spent the rest of the afternoon lounging by the pool and savoring the dwindling days of summer that remained.
The next morning, I went through my usual routine. I was cleaning out my email inbox which was 99% junk. Then an email subject grabbed my immediate attention: Special Ed Position. My heart nearly jumped out of my chest and through my shirt. My fingers couldn’t open the email quick enough. It was a response from the assistant principal at Judson Middle School, in Longview. The message read:
We received your email about the Special Education position and would love to talk with you. We need to make a decision quickly since school is starting soon.
Could you come by the school today at 3:30 to meet with us and bring a copy of your application and resume with you so that we have your credentials? We are having registration today in 2 hour intervals until 7 pm tonight so I will not be in the office to check your response. You may call the front office and let the office staff know if the time is going to work for you.
Thanks for your interest!
I couldn’t believe what I just read. I read over the email again just to be sure. My eyes weren’t deceiving me, a principal at a middle school wanted to interview me for a job. For this year. Now my heart really felt like it would break free of my chest cavity it was beating so intensely. An interview. In Longview. TODAY. Accounting for the three-hour drive and getting interview ready on such short notice, I needed to get going. First, I would have to pass this whole thing by at least one of my parents. I guessed that my dad would be my best bet. His business brain would be more likely to approve a job in Longview as opposed to no job anywhere else.
I dialed my father’s phone number and waited nervously as I listened to the ringtone.
“Hello,” my father’s voice bellowed through the phone speaker.
“Dad, I got a job interview…today,” I nervously stated.
“That’s great. Where?” he questioned.
The moment I anticipated was upon me. Play it cool, Sarah. “A middle school in Longview.” I kept my answer as vague and relaxed as possible.
I’m not sure if the silence on his end was intentional or just my imagination. But after either a few seconds or about 30, my father spoke.
“Well you better get going. You want to make sure you’re there early.”
Half in shock and half in the spirit of excitement, I blurted out. “Yeah, thanks. I’ll let you know how it goes.”
“Alright. Love you.”
“Love you too,” I reciprocated.
I knew my father loved me. And I also knew that he was proud of me for landing an interview. I reveled in that feeling. Of him being proud of me. Approving of something I had done. Despite everything that had and hadn’t happened these past few months, I still desperately craved his validation. It was a driving force in my life, always. But it had even more recently peaked. Because even though I whole-heartedly disagreed with many of his actions, I still wanted him to be proud of me. And even more than that, I wanted to make him so.
I shook off the deep train of thought and proceeded to get interview appropriate as quickly as possible while still ensuring that I took my time. I grabbed a few cosmetic items for final touches that could be reapplied once I arrived at the school and headed to my car. I punched in the school address and pulled out of the driveway, Longview bound.
Two hours and 52 minutes later my Honda Accord rolled into the Judson Middle School parking lot. I was 30 minutes early, just as I prepared to be. I inhaled deeply and slowly released my breath back out calming my off the chart anxiousness. This could be it; my way out. A job that could financially allow me to branch out on my own. Allow me to start fresh, in a city I already knew well and felt safe in. Allow me to actually live in the same city as Kendrae. Whew! What a thought that was. I hadn’t even had time to process how wonderful that aspect would be for our relationship. Wait, I told myself. Focus on the interview first. Then after I clinch this position, I can enjoy all that benefits that come with it.
So I composed myself and walked into the front office with my head held high. I got this.
After about an hour I walked back to my car hopeful and confused. The interview had felt great. I met with the principal, who was new to the district, and the two assistant principals. The four of us really seemed to gel and the interview felt more conversational than question and answer. I found myself surprisingly relaxed and exuding confidence.
The interview ended on a vague note though. Mr. Mitchell, the principal, explained that if they should decide to recommend me for the position, HR wouldn’t be able to verify my credentials right now, because they were in the process of all the new teacher orientation. Which left me partially excited because that sounded like an indication that I might have the job, but if I couldn’t be processed, how could I get it? Either way, I was instructed to follow up with them on Thursday. Whomever they decided to hire would start on Friday.
The murkiness of my next steps overpowered the excitement of maybe landing a job. That left me with two days to try not to freak out about this potential job. And then, when the results were in I would either freak out at not getting it, or freak out because I would have to find an apartment, start teacher inservice and prepare for the school year. Before heading back to Van Alstyne, I had to see Kendrae. Seeing his face would calm my nerves, and strengthen my emotions. Plus, he had no idea I was in town. Everything had happened so fast, that I decided I would just surprise him.
As I pulled up to Kendrae’s apartment complex, more butterflies took refuge in my stomach than they did before my interview. At every encounter with Kendrae I found myself dizzy, weak at the knees and giddy with excitement. I didn’t know how this man could affect me this way, but I didn’t want it to ever stop. I knocked on his front door and waited with anticipation. I felt like a child in line to use the restroom, liable to burst at any moment. Just when I thought I couldn’t wait a moment longer, the door opened. And I was greeted with a look of utter shock, excitement and love. A look and feeling I’ll never forget. All my anxiety about my maybe-job melted away there on the doorstep. The look in Kendrae’s eyes spoke more than his words ever could.
And in that moment, I knew. Just knew that Kendrae and I belonged together. I was going to get this job. I was going to move back to Longview. And we were going to make this work. I was claiming my future. And for the first time in the last six months, I was never surer of anything else in my life.