March 1, 2018, started out as a normal day. March 1, 2018 will go down as one of the most important days of my life. As the title indicates, March 1, 2018 is the day my years-long job search came to an end. I no longer have to read through job listings, think about cover letters and resumes, and wonder when I’ll get another chance to prove what I can do. Very soon, I will start work as the Disability Equity Specialist in Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights.
It was about noon on March 1, 2018. I was lying on my bed, listening to an Atlanta Braves spring training game, and petting Mr. Rogers. My mind started considering phone calls I should make and exercise I should be doing. Suddenly, my phone chimed. I had an email.
Expecting to hear from the city but not sure when I would, I picked up my phone. My new message was from one of the people who had conducted my second interview. If I got the job, she would be my boss.
For an instant, my heart started beating faster. It had all come down to this. I had either gotten a job I really wanted, or I would be back to the job search I truly wanted to end.
For a few seconds, my right hand stroked Mr. Rogers’s back. My left hand held my phone. In that instant, Mr. Rogers lifted his head and began softly purring. My head knew he was reacting to my sudden touch. My heart felt like he was reminding me that everything would be all right. I gave him one good rub on the back of his neck and opened the message.
VoiceOver began reading. “I wanted to let you know we would like to offer you the position.”
I silenced VoiceOver and let myself enjoy the sudden peace of mind and relaxation. For almost a minute, I let myself just be with myself. I felt the disappointment and frustration finally melt away completely. I was proud of myself for never quitting. I was glad I stayed stubborn and held out for a position I am glad to have and that I know will let me make a difference.
Mr. Rogers crawled on my chest, shoved my phone onto my pillow, and began purring again. Petting the wonderful little guy, I was absolutely certain that he will always hold an extremely special place in my heart. Mr. Rogers was the one who was with me when my nearly eight-year job search ended. Petting him, I said, I need to call Mom.
As the afternoon rolled on, I enjoyed the congratulations and the kind words. Mom sounded as happy as I have heard her. Aunt Barb, who kept telling me she had a good feeling about this one, wanted every detail and kept talking about her happiness. Even people who have argued with me over politics, congratulated me.
In March of 2017, I was relieved to be getting Social Security Supplemental Income (SSI). In June of 2017, I had to apply for SNAP. In March of 2018, I got a new job.
The last year has sometimes been painful. The last year has sometimes been frustrating. The last year has sometimes been disappointing. The last year has sometimes been scary. The last year has sometimes been shameful. The last year has sometimes been unbelievably great.
Thanks to the last year and the nearly seven years before, I will soon sit at a desk a far better, stronger, more compassionate person than I was when I walked out of Disability Rights Advocates embarrassed by the few tears I couldn’t make wait for me to get home.
Thanks to the lessons the last nearly eight years have taught, 2018 is going to be one of the best years of my life. To those of you who have supported me, I want you to know how much your support has meant. I truly wouldn’t be where I am without you.