Onward

Today I’m leaving for ten days in South Africa.  It’s an opportunity I’ve been waiting for for a long time – getting to learn and teach with my favorite law school professor and mentor.  But, as I sit here, less than four hours away from entering the jetway and boarding that flight, I am completely petrified.

This trip objectively shouldn’t be a big deal – I mean, I’ve lived in Liberia for Pete’s sake.  South Africa is nothing compared to that – I actually had to call my credit card company to notify them I was travelling there.  Liberia doesn’t even take credit cards…or ATM cards.  Or pretty much anything other than cash stained with red, Liberian dust.  My yellow vaccination card with my long list of vaccinations (against some really, really nasty bugs)?  Didn’t need it.  Don’t even need to take anti-malaria meds either.

So then why am I feeling like running home, grabbing my guy and my pups, and hiding under the covers with a big bowl of comfort-pasta? 

Leaving – even for the trip of a lifetime – means coming back.  And coming back means finally starting to look for a new job in Austin…and looking for a new job means admitting that I will actually have to leave the job I have.

I have been in the working world for a long time for only being 31, and I’ve had a long list of jobs.  I am the interview and job application queen – I’ve even had a job helping other people find jobs!  My CV is ready to go.  I have a list of places that I want to apply.  I have my references lined up.  But the truth is, I don’t want a new job. I’ve finally found a place that I truly enjoy – a home with a team of colleagues who have made even the dryest of contract reviews entertaining.

I give my boss the credit – when he was given permission to expand his department, he went out and hand-selected individuals whose skills and personalities would fit and compliment each other perfectly.  We’re like any great comic book team – we even have a “professor” and a “cheerleader.”  And we’re led by our fearless Captain Kirk, who is pushing his department to “boldly go where no department (at least at our company) has gone before.”  I want to go there too…

The professor and I were having one of our brain-break chats the other day.  The professor has been in this office for about four years now, and has worked under the same boss and the same leadership that entire time.  He’s a very mild-mannered fellow, who gets exclusively (and extremely) amped up about Justice Antonin Scalia’s originalist interpretation of the United States Constitution…and also about the new Marvel movies.  The professor told me that he hadn’t felt at home here until our team expanded in January – now he feels part of something energetic and forward-moving.  I don’t know what it was like in our department before, but he hit it right on the head with what it’s like now.

On the one hand, I really do want to leave now – this second – and head off to South Africa, and then Texas after that.  I am filled with excitement about the food (yay Tex-mex!!), the new people (Nelson Mandela’s defense attorney), the new place to live, my partner’s graduate program, and so many other wonderful things.  But all of that excitement is bound up inside a shell of fear and ambivalence…and sadness.

Our CEO, a brilliant and driven soul in the body of the cutest of grandmothers, ends every email with one word – “Onward!”  Very wise and appropriate advice – onward I must, but now I am crossing my fingers that I can somehow take my team with me when I go.

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