Breathless

It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon, here, and I’m curled up on the couch with a bit of a cold. The last few days have slipped away from me and it’s only in pausing to gather my thoughts before this post that I realized how much has really actually happened. Let’s time-travel a bit, shall we?

______________________________________________________________________________________________

February 1st, 12:30 P.M.

If you’re on-time, then you’re late.

I took those words to heart when my instructor said them. As such, I showed up nearly ridiculously early for my first grown-up interview. My first nursing interview. I smiled as I walked into the hospital and up to the information desk. I gave myself credit for not stuttering as I told the volunteer that I was there – early – for a 1:00 interview for Mrs. J.K.T. regarding an oncology nursing position. I was directed to the operator who encouraged me to have a seat while I waited.

Conveniently, there were a few seats available right near the elevators. I watched, while I waited. I’d done two clinical rotations for school at this hospital’s sister-hospital, across town. I felt the same thing I did there, here. Happiness, energy, potential. Almost every one (patient, family, employee) gave a nod as they passed.

In my slacks and button-up, with my folder containing my resume and notepad, I was pretty sure it was obvious that I was there for an interview.

Within a few moments, a woman approached me, smiling. I recognized her, because I’d cheated and looked her up on Facebook. She looked frazzled and apologized for being late – even though it was still about five minutes until one. On the elevator ride up and during the walk to her office, she discussed the shoes she wore – they were causing a blister, which was sad, because they were new and expensive. She explained that she was still fairly new to the position of oncology director and was still adjusting to the change from nursing sneakers to business-casual flats.

The interview itself went better than I could have hoped, honestly. She confessed that she recognized my name when I applied, because she’s an adjunct instructor at my alma mater. She was impressed by my resume and I fielded the standard interview questions well enough that she was candid when telling me about the position and about how well she thought I may suit it. She passed me off to a nurse on duty, Mari, who then also reviewed my application and asked me a few questions.

We sat in the break room and another nurse, a technician, and a doctor all dropped in while we were talking. All of them displayed a camaraderie and sense of humor that made me feel at ease, despite my anxiety and my insecurities and my doubts.

After, Mari, directed me towards the elevators and I told her prior to going that I hoped to see her again soon. She laughed and said she expected she would. In the lobby, I got a bottle of water and noticed a few students from my alma mater sitting in the cafeteria – doing one of their own clinical rotations. It seemed like a good sign.

My other picked me up, explaining that he expected the interview would last about an hour – which it did. We had lunch and I told him about it and went back to work.

Everyone asked how I thought it went.

“Good,” I told them. “I’ll call on Tuesday, if I don’t hear anything.”

______________________________________________________________________________________________

February 2nd, 3:30 P.M.

It may not even be them. Don’t get worked up.

I took a few slow, deep breaths to brace myself. I’d missed a call while I was working. The number was in my history, but not saved. It looked familiar, but . . .

I sat on the curb just outside the side door of my office. Cars went by, a truck. The noise didn’t block out the sound of the phone ringing in my ear. I closed my eyes and visualized a beach. Waves, salt, sun . . .

Hello, you’ve reached Terry Owens. How may I help you?” The voice was chirpy, southern, familiar from four or five rounds of phone-tag.

“Yes, Terry, hello! I was calling back regarding a call I just received. About the oncology nursing position? I’m sorry, I couldn’t answer -” I had to stop, having run out of air.

Oh, hello, dear. So glad you called back. I wanted to let you know that, after having reviewed your resume further and having interviewed you, Mrs. J.T.K. and our hospital would like to extend an offer to you for that position. Would you like to hear it?

I liked my lips, breathless. “Yes. Yes, I’d be thrilled to hear it.”

A few minutes later, I thanked her and hung up the phone.

Giggles escaped me. I cried. I called my other half.

“They want me,” I told him. “They actually offered me a job.”

And? What are the details?” He asked.

I told him. He pretended to choke.

The offer was good, I thought. Better than good. Most of my classmates talked about wanting to start somewhere for not-less-than $22-$23. I’d have been thrilled with that, but it wasn’t what I’d been offered.

Base pay would be $24. The differential pay for nights is $4. The additional differential for weekends is $3. You’d be hired for nights and weekends, as requested and noted.

I couldn’t breath properly. Quickly, back at my desk, I did the math.

Triple. I’d start off making triple what I currently make.

Fairy-tales come true. They just take some work.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Feb. 2nd, 8:45 P.M.

This wasn’t how I expected to celebrate.

I wobbled, trying to catch my breath and think clearly.

Two 16oz beers, a shot of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, two mixed drinks with 1800 and Sprite. One hour of mind-blowing sex with an attractive out-of-towner on the living room ottoman. It was safe, of course. He was a stranger to me, but not to my other. Our open relationship created some interesting situations, sometimes. This was one of them.

“He’s coming off a bad break-up,” my other had explained, when he picked me up from work and told me about the out-of-towner. “He’s in town visiting family for a few days. He’s clean, has the papers, and he’s a friend. You deserve a night of rough sex and booze.”

Well, who was I to argue with that logic? Plus, he ordered pizza.

And round two, in the bedroom, was actually better than round one.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Feb. 4th, 2:37 P.M.

I’m putting off being productive.

My lower body is so sore that it feels like I tried to cram a 30-Day Workout into one night. My nose is stuffy and I have a sore throat. The DayQuil I’m taking is making me slightly fuzzy, even thought it’s the non-drowsy formula. I still need to do the dishes and go grocery shopping and score my last practice test. All I want to do is play video games and daydream about how I’m going to be making $31 an hour for three twelve hour shifts a week. I’ll be able to buy new bras, and coffee, and go to Universal.

It’s surreal. Doesn’t feel real. In six days, I’ll be one step closer, because I’ll have taken (and hopefully passed) the NCLEX. The job starts March 5th, so I’ve still got some time to brace myself and to research the role more thoroughly. I have to perform a background check, drug screening, and health assessment. I have to get used to thinking of myself as an RN. I have to breath and remind myself that I am capable of learning how to be capable. I have to brush up on IV starts, characterization, and conflict resolution.

But . . . first I have to do the dishes . . . .

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