Yesterday, I started a new job. 

After graduating college two years ago, I had a few jobs, but nothing that would amount to anything career-related, nothing in corporate America, nothing that made me feel validated as a college-educated individual.  My income from the last two years was derived largely from a serving job at The Wine Bar, enjoyable but not necessarily professional.  I did, however, learn about wine, a skill which will likely be necessary as I climb the corporate ladder and my golf skills are found lacking. 

My regulars at The Wine Bar became family.  Not only was I sharing meals with them weekly (eating off their plates, drinking from their wine) while at the restaurant, but many expanded that dynamic to include the outside world.  I watered their plants while they went on vacation, babysat their children when the regular sitter cancelled.  They have seen me cry about The Kid From Boston and blush from … well, we’ll get into him later. 

After watching me struggle and grow into my depression, a few of my regulars tried to network to find me work.  Finally, something clicked and two of the guys found me a job within their company.  Specifically, they wrote a job description for me and pulled the strings to make it happen. 

Yesterday — and the night before– I was extremely nervous to start.  For the past two years, I have been on a summer vacation of sorts, the limbo between learning experiences.  With each passing month, I felt dumber and dumber, doubting my ability to ever again resume my education or retain knowledge.

Throughout my schooling, my relationship with summer vacation was bittersweet.  The fall return caused anxiety as my knowledge retention was not as crisp and I replayed different What If? factors.  What if the teachers doesn’t have a review?  What if I am in the dumb math group?  What if I am the only one who doesn’t know something and the whole class knows it?   A few times, I began practicing my fractions and time-test abilities in August.  But this conflicted with my heavy agenda of reading, fort building and sprinkler jumping, and the practice did not grow to habit. 

Yesterday, armed with only a few hours of sleep and four cups of coffee turning in my stomach, I arrived at my new place of employment …  thirty minutes early.  I was nervous about traffic, a ridiculous fear since I spent the summer working within half a mile.  I wished I had the professional equivalent of flash cards to sort through as a trial run.  Because What if everyone expected me to know something and I am made the fool in front of the entire corporation?

Even parking the car received second-guesses … Is this appropriate?  Where does everyone else park?  After a careful selection of parking (yes, I realize the other cars were a big hint), the anxiety and fears compounded me … Until I looked over and my boss, one of The Wine Bar regulars, pulled into the parking space next to mine. 

I had someone to walk me past security, to show me where to go, to introduce me through the corridors.  It was the corporate equivalent of having someone to sit next to on the bus.  And one of the big kids, at that. 

I have never been so grateful to my family and the relationships established at The Wine Bar … made me almost feel sorry for the one time we tp’d his house.  Almost.