I wasn’t even looking. I got an email from a friend who was looking for a new job, about 18 months ago. Did you see this, he asked, this would be perfect for you. And it was. It was my dream job. It was exactly my area, and it would mean returning to a place that I knew and loved, working with people that had taught and shaped me as an academic.
But applying meant that I stood a better than average chance to be called in for an interview, a better than average chance that I would be offered the job. Would I, could I turn down my dream job? Could I, would I, turn against those very choices I had once made, to put my family before my career? Could I, would I, live apart from the person I chose to spend the rest of my life with?
A year ago, it didn’t matter. A year ago, I never got a call, and the search was apparently canceled. I carried on, as usual, as planned. There would be no dream job for me, only making the best of a situation that had many positives for our family, although not so much professionally for me. I was making my own way, blogging, getting NCTE and MLA panels together and accepted, joining DH groups, writing and editing books and articles, experimenting with my teaching.
And then, the dream job came back into the picture. Simultaneously, my professional situation got worse. Insults were added to injury, not through any malicious intent, but through gross indifference. A situation that I had been describing as, “not so bad, could be worse,” became almost untenable. The dream job became a beacon of hope, and a source of stress. I could not, would not turn this job down if, by some miracle, I got it. The lesser of two evils became breaking my family apart.
I kept applying for this job private. I redid my CV, refined my job letter (yes, it wasn’t just because that I was doing these things). A year later, I was a much stronger candidate. I was wracked with guilt because I wanted this job so badly, fantasizing about the possibility of my kids going to French immersion school, of growing up playing with my best friend’s kids. Of teaching Canadian literature, living and working in two languages again. Thankfully, my husband understood. He was probably more angry at the situation at our institution than I was.
Then, I got the call. On Thursday, I’m going to be in Sherbrooke, interviewing for a tenure-track position that starts in the fall. Interviewing for my dream job.
Wish me luck.
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