non-refundable teachers

My actions were characteristic of me, this post less so.

We neither of us are really sure of how, exactly, the friendship got started, but it did center around music and graduated to code and phone calls. That was years ago, and my clearest memory of them was walking outside on a lazy summer night, sitting outside in the driveway, bare feet on concrete, eyes to sky, and watching the stars circle as we talked.

Fast-forward through years, time, and changes, and you end up with the mostly-untold saga of the summer, which ended up with Adam coming out here for a very memorable week's visit.

I've known he's had a hard summer. The helljob had worn on him. The process of searching for teaching jobs in his field, of applying over and over and interviewing and getting nothing, was nerve-wracking for me, and I wasn't the one applying. I can't imagine what it must have been like for him.

Well, actually, I've had a bit of an idea. A look at our cell phone bills lately will tell the tale.

We'd kicked around the idea all summer of bringing him down here for dragon*con if none of the jobs came through. I told him I'd foot the airfare if he'd just trust me. Finally, this weekend, we decided that it was safe to make a purchase, and Sunday night, I bought the airfare.

Karma being what it is, Adam got a call the next morning (today). He raced in for the interview. It was a formality. He had a job offer by the afternoon. He starts tomorrow morning.

It's the happiest I've ever been to cancel an airline reservation. The tickets weren't refundable; I'm now sitting on an airline credit that should allow me to make good on the trip a few months from now, to fly him down during spring break. If we plan wisely, hit up fare sales, and I use a floating holiday or something along those lines, I should be able to wring a quick west coast weekend out of it as well.

But that brings me to this, and the kind of words we are always too shy or too self-conscious to say, the kind of words we need to say but are always too afraid of being the one who blinks first:

I am proud of you, Adam. I have some idea of what you went through this summer. Every lunchtime call from you at your helljob made me wish and hope that there would be a day like today, a day that would end with you bubbly and excited because life had finally given you the break you were looking for.

I am sorry you won't be at dragon*con. I bought the airfare because I genuinely wanted you there, and no matter how excited I am for you, I'll look around at the ring of chairs on Thursday night and wish, just for a moment, you could have been there with us. But this is the better answer, the right answer, and I cannot begrudge you a moment of the excitement I heard in your voice tonight.

For all the twists and turns our friendship has taken over the years, I am grateful that I was there for today, and if you think I was able to write this sentence without a lump in my throat, you think me a far more jaded person than I actually am.

Be happy. Savor this feeling, this moment. You've earned it.