Friday, September 09, 2005

The Ojai shuffle

Cell phone alerts me with its quirky little techno jingle that there is an incoming call. I check the screen and see that it is Bill, answer: "Hello, good morning."

"What are you doing up?"

"Soaking in the jacuzzi."

"I need to talk to you... you know, catch up."

I can tell that something is up, a forced nonchalance. In my mind, I can see the dust rising from his attempt to cover up the tracks of nervousness.

"Was going to do some yoga but I can meet with you first."

"No, that's OK, do your yoga and then call me." [click]

While practicing yoga, I sense something is up. I wonder if I am going to be fired. My practice goes quickly. Need to know what is up. What is going down...

Finish. Call Bill. No answer. Don't leave message. Hang up.

Few minutes later, cell rings, it is Bill. The gist of this conversation is that Bill "Wants to clean the slate." He wants everyone to move off the estate. I am the second one that he has talked to. This information shocks me. I listen as Bill tries to break this to me as gently as possible. He's afraid of me quitting, not working for him anymore. I reassure him that "This is the best job I've ever had." He wants to preserve our friendship and lets me know that it is not personal, that everyone has to leave. He says that having all of us here is too stressful. He mentions his heart condition. The need for more privacy.

I chuckle and say: "I guess I have to find a new place to live."

He continues to explain and make it clear that it is because of him and his need to reduce stress levels. I let him know that it is cool and I'll be fine, no worries.

Conversation ends.

In retrospect, it all kind of makes sense now. When Bill remarried, even before he remarried, it was obvious that his partner was not into having the community thing. Part of me thought that I'd be immune because of my dedication, dependability, lowkey almost invisibility. Alas, part of me knew from the very beginning that this would be the way that I'd leave. On the upside, There's plenty of time to find a cool place. Basically, I need a place in February.

Ungrounding and exhilerating, scarey and a relief, disappointing and hopeful. All of these are just illusions and the truth combines them all, moving, jockeying for position, changing... Even now, I begin to relax and wonder what the future holds. Welcome back to the Ojai Shuffle, I tell myself. This happens to many of us who live in this small jewel of a town. I see many possibilities...

Devin and I play some late night tennis under the lights of a local athletic club. We have a quick warm up and then play a set and two games. The first set starts out with us not completely warmed up. Consequently, we hit more unforced errors than usual. Because it was at the club, I was not allowed to yell. Interestingly enough, I did not yell at all, despite the news flash from Bill this morning. Devin serves first, I break his serve. He breaks my serve. I break his serve, he breaks my serve. Score: 2-2. From here on I settled down, stopped making as many unforced errors, began controlling the points, hitting winners with passing shots and lobs. Did not lose a game for the rest of the night. results: 6-2, 2-0.