“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
I shifted forward then back into the plush chair, brushed a solitary speck of lint from my dark skirt. I chose reflective silence over stammering a series of ummms and let’s sees. Resisted gazing skyward in search of the succinct words I had painstakingly rehearsed on how not to answer this particular query. I maintained eye contact with the interviewer as my mental calendar flipped backwards.
Five years had brought me full circle. In 2000 I still grudgingly called Minneapolis, Minnesota home. I had fled my native Brooklyn, New York eighteen bone-chilling winters prior. The bitter cold, life and death of my husband James, and a succession of unanswered questions wore down my resolve. I needed a change.
With the fall of the World Trade Centers marking history I sold or gave away all my belongings, packed my 98 Nissan Altima and drove to Dana Point, California to complete writing my first memoir—Cross My Heart and Hope to Die. Cathartic? Repeatedly dipping into my history, reliving crisis, obstacles, heartache did a number on me emotionally. With little support and few outlets I found myself spiraling down with each completed chapter. This project coupled with living on the poverty level in one of the most affluent and beautiful places in the United States made for a bad mix. Then add my mother’s cancer diagnosis, my own blood clot scare, medical care I could not afford, and the end of my hosts’ hospitality and a bad mix turned deadly.
Fast forward to 2010. It’s been five years since I wrote those first three paragraphs. I have no idea what caused the writer’s block. Maybe it was that I got the job and didn’t have to face the “Where do you see yourself in five years?” dilemma again. At least not yet. I don’t remember what I told the interviewer then. In my attempt to be honest I still skirted around the truth. I needed the job too much to be over confident. Cocky. I was starting life over—for the fifth time.
Ten years ago I deemed that particular question ludicrous and vowed I would not answer it again. At least not fabricate some prediction of the future that, by my experience, had no meaning. Life is full of twists and turns, bumps in the road, unexpected detours. Break downs. Recoveries. Near death experiences. Life is unpredictable at best; unbearable at its worst.
Working on my second memoir, Smiling Is Not Resilience (working title) has me looking backwards in five year increments. I shudder. I cry. I often wonder how and more importantly why I am even here to look back. I should be dead. Seriously, I should be dead. But, Life holds me hostage. So I delve into the past now in a last ditch attempt to make sense out of the losses, hurts, anguish, empty space.
Check back in 2015.