I devoured the book when I was in junior high, read it again in high school, and thought about becoming a nanny a la Jane in college. (Okay, without all the gothic drama and romance.)
Me becoming a nanny is a funny story involving gut reactions and going with the heart. I literally have no idea how I got the job I got. I suppose I put something somewhere online, but to this day I have no idea where/how. Out of the blue I got inquiries from Pennsylvania, D.C., and Arizona. I couldn’t visualize myself in PA so that was out of running. Communication from Arizona was a little slow, and I was getting antsy, so I took the D.C. offer. It was pretty hard to resist a summer there for a history geek like me. But even then I couldn’t actually see myself getting off the plane there.
And then Arizona called me. I could see myself in Arizona. Maybe it was the west calling me back, I don’t know. However, I knew I simply had to be there. But I was between a rock and a hard place. How could I, the people pleaser first-to-say-yes-and-then-to-regret, call D.C. and tell the family I couldn’t do it? I was scared out of my mind and sick to my stomach. But I did it. I knew I had to be in Arizona. And so I landed in Phoenix on a hot day in May, starting a new chapter in my life.
I was there for 100 days. At the end I was getting homesick for my friends and the familiarity of college life back in Iowa. But I was proud that I had stepped outside my comfort zone. And then I took the plunge again, going back to Arizona after I graduated. My intent was to nanny for a year, study for the GRE, get into grad school, and become either an amazing editor or a kick ass history professor. (My students were going to fall in love with history.) It didn’t turn out like that though. Funny how life is like that.
Soon after being back in Arizona anxiety set in. I was lonely, not quite happy, and didn’t know what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I was a basket case inside, but coped well enough on the outside. I missed my friends and my family and wanted to go home, wherever that was. But my stepmom told me something big was right around the corner and that I needed to be where I was, that the darkest hour was just before the dawn. So I hunkered down and waited. And waited.
Fall crept up on the desert and I was doing okay enough. I wasn’t so lonely. And then a friend asked for my phone number for her brother and I thought, sure why not? And then I waited and waited, and nearly forgot about the phone number exchange. The something big that was supposed to happen finally did. I got a call, went out on a date, and knew in my heart that all along I was right where I was meant to be. So much so on our first date I called home from the restaurant restroom to inform my stepmom that I was going to marry the guy. I was that sure and had never been surer of a decision before. We were married by the next fall, and all of a sudden Arizona was home.
My one-year stint in Arizona in preparation for the rest of my life has turned into a decade in the desert. It hasn’t always been easy, but life rarely is. There are times I can’t quite believe this is my life. Not in a bad way by any means. In an I-never-thought-my-life-would-turn-out-like-this sort of way. Because 10 years ago when I was listing the pros and cons of D.C. and Arizona I never thought Arizona would lead me here, to love and motherhood. I still wonder what my life would have been like had I taken the job in D.C. I’ll never know if I would have made my way back to Arizona in the end, to the life I now have and love. I like to think that in the end I would have made my way back home here, maybe on a longer ride.
And that is how Jane Eyre and my gut led me here.