Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Groundhog Day

El Jefe completed the move of the executive offices of his vast and nefarious business empire this weekend, and of course, it was the usual fun experience that all such events are. I suppose, given the impending relocation of the Imperial Palace, that 2007, (Year 46 of the Jefe era), will be the "Year of Moving."

The office move is odder than most, because it is sort of Full Circle. Twenty years ago, I began what I would consider my first serious post-college employment in this same building. I started work there in 1987, and met a couple of the same people I work with now, including my boss. A couple years later, as I started law school, we moved buildings -- right next door. I worked through law school at that location, and went away for a year and a half after law school -- and came back to the Building Next Door; staying there until five years ago, when we moved off to the place we just left.

And now I'm right back to where I started. A week and a half ago, when we showed up to check the progress of construction on the space, we run right into the mailman, Harry, whom we've all known for years. I have no doubt that Harry will see that I get all the junk mail sent to me care of the space in the same building we vacated fourteen years ago, and the place we left five years back. Harry's efficient.

Today, the first day in the new space, the whole day was Groundhog Day -- or as Yogi Berra might have said, Deja Damned Vu. Five years ago, I used to go to lunch every day at a local salad joint. Five days a week, I had my table at said joint, and the waitresses were all trained, all knew to leave me strictly alone, not chit-chat, bring me my water with lemon, and leave me in peace while I read the Wall Street Journal, and some stupid book about Napoléon's wars. Sure enough, I show up there today, put my stuff down in my accustomed place, get my food, and presto -- before I can even sit down, my water and lemon are sitting there, delivered by a waitress who gives me an odd smile. I smiled back and left a good tip.

Really freaky. Things are different, but the same. I'm just older.

But I'm thinking of somebody today. I'll call her B. No, that's not really her initial, or even close, but it's close enough for blogging work. I think B knows about this blog, although I don't think she reads it, but I can't eliminate the possibility. I'll change enough facts to protect her identity and make me look good. B would understand that -- she never could stand that I was such a cynic, but she was aware of it.

Ever see Sliding Doors ? I never liked Gwyneth Paltrow much, but it's an interesting film. B is so much more interesting and better looking than Paltrow, anyway. I met B in college, and she's my own Sliding Door -- the connection that I made that turned out to be important in ways that I never could have understood or imagined at the time. B, you see, is why you're reading this. B's why I'm El Jefe, why I went to law school, why I married SWMBO, why there's an Heir, and why I'm half in the bag on a bottle of Australian '05 Yellow Tail Shiraz/Grenache (just passable) while SWMBO and the Heir are at Astros opening night.

I met B my first year at a rather large State University which might be located in Austin, but if it is, I'm not telling. We were in the same dorm, same floor, and manged to become friends. I don't know why, except I thought at the time she was really cool and the greatest thing that God ever unbagged. But we had nothing in common. I was already hyper-conservative, she was very liberal. I was uber-cynical, she was nothing if not completely utterly idealistic. She hung out with musicians and artsy types who absolutely bored me to death; I read books and hung out with people that did the same to her. (I think if I had it to do over, I'd have given the artsy musicians of this life a little more attention: everything has its place, and I'm not as uptight as once I was). Seems like B and I met at a floor beer party, and at the time, I had no idea that I had just run into one of the most important people I'd ever meet.

Anyway, we stayed friends through college, despite political differences and widely divergent interests. For some weird reason, most of my close female friends in this life have had opposite political views. Go figure.
In any case, through much of 1986 and early 1987, I wound up in the northeast. For those of you not old enough to remember getting out of school in the early 1980's, job prospects were pretty bleak: particularly for a middling-well student, somewhat slacker-like, who was resisting the whole concept of law school. In any case, I wound up in a cold climate, figuratively and literally: in New York and Washington D.C., for about a year and a half -- doing odd jobs, and missing home.
B stayed in touch, and urged me to come home, that is, back to Texas, which, for a variety of reasons, I eventually did. I will never forget loading up the car, cruising across the United States, and arriving back in Houston, Texas one evening for rush hour traffic, and so happy to be home that I cried.
To make a long story short, B encouraged me to go to paralegal school, and (smart, smart B), then hooked me up with her Dad. Mr. B -- (you saw this coming, right ?) -- was an attorney. Anyhow, Mr. B quickly took a shine to me: I think, primarily, because I wasn't like most of B's friends : I was not a musician, or an artist and thus threatening to his well-ordered world, and generally did not wear my hair long. Mr. B hired me, and there I went to work, the same place as today, all those years ago.
Probably, Mr. B's approval and my generally boring nature lost me points with B. Mr. B encouraged me to go to law school. . .which I did, where I met SWMBO, got a law degree. . .and in due course, the Heir came along. Mr. B, one of the most decent people I've ever met -- a serious liberal, who never, ever held it against me that I was so conservative, introduced me to my present employer. Never, never at the floor beer party where I met B, at Large State University, did I have any clue as to the whole chain of consequences that would flow from that one little meeting.
B was probably the most important connection I ever made; the hinge on which, unknowing, my whole life turned. For a variety of reasons, most of which were my fault, we drifted apart, and I haven't talked with her in a couple of years. But being back in old haunts, she's much on my mind. For me, B is living proof that you never know just what is going to happen in this life: that God's plans for us are inscrutable, invisible, impenetrable, unknowable. The relationship also shows that God has a lively sense of humor. And it can happen to you, too. Who will you meet today ? What will you do with what happens ?
Anyway, wherever you are B, here's to you.


Candidly Caroline said...

Isn’t it amazing all the different patterns and connections we can find in our lives, if we open our minds enough to look?
Connections always are around us and can change our lives in good ways, bad ways, small ways, big ways, depending on how we handle them.
You should not underestimate your own power in this change. You listened to your heart and followed it in a time of upheaval and confusion. You could have made scores of other decisions that would have voided her impact on your life - but you didn’t. It is that which enabled you to get where you belong.

louielouie said...

as CC so eloquently wrote what i was thinking, i can hardly recognize it though, i will give my blather a roll.
i believe what you are saying is she is jenny to your forest.
no, i did not call you slow.
as i wsa reading i couldn'e help but think that you were B's sliding door.
and if she couldn't/didn't realize it, you are the lucky one for it.
water with lemon & a salad, huh?
LL picks self off floor and sits down to type. my waitress was losing her hair. i thought it humorous at the time. that came back to bite me in the..........

louielouie said...

it appears that a large state university in texas just got a veeeeeery good womens basketball coach.

El Jefe Maximo said...

Yeppers, Go Large State Horns ! And if you can pronounce her name, LL, let along spell it without looking, you're doing good.

Maybe I was B's sliding door. I don't know. If so, I hope I was in a good way.

Water with lemon and salad a boring lunch makes. Unfortunately, one of my issues is food. I try to make lunch boring so dinner can be more interesting.

CC. You're sure right about connections.