an update on my life as a cliche

I wrote earlier that I quit my job and that I was seeing some really positive results, and I’d like to elaborate on what’s been going on. Essentially, the issue was that I was at a very big company and, no matter how hard I worked or what fantastic programs I created or what results I achieved, my impact was never going to be visible. It was a really big ship, headed a certain direction, with a few people steering. I was merely one among of thousands of paddlers.

Each day since, I’ve tried to fit yoga or some form of exercise and meditation into my life. I truly want to stretch the boundaries of the abundance I’m willing to welcome into my life, so I am really working at creating and visualizing an amazing new opportunity. I’m having coffees and lunches regularly, re-activating my network and meeting entirely new people to talk about my strengths and passions, and what opportunities there may be in fields of interest.

I’ve applied for some jobs online, and here’s what’s strange about that:  I remember the chore of navigating the online applications (I hate you, Taleo!) only for those jobs I didn’t care about. I don’t even recall applying for the jobs I really wanted to learn more about. And, the beautiful news is that all the right companies have been calling me back. The companies and roles in which I’m truly interested, in which I can make an impact for the good of the world, and where I can be as much or more steersman than paddler are the ones for which I’m being interviewed. And it feels great to pace the kitchen in my pajamas, untethered by phone cord, business attire or office, and speak knowledgeably and candidly about why I left my last role and how I can contribute in a new one.

In no fewer than five phone or in-person conversations, I interviewed for two manager roles and one senior director role. I think because of my previous title and the way really big companies have to dumb them down to squeeze in all those layers, I didn’t really know where I might fit into smaller organizations, so I’ve been applying to a range of positions. Interestingly, the manager-level interviews were the greatest struggle. The positions are in small-enough organizations so that I would be the be-all, end-all servant of all things mar-comm. And I’m better at forward thinking, planning, challenging and innovating than I am at a heavy load of donkey work.

When I spoke with the executive recruiter for the senior director position, I was surprised at how confident and at home I felt in the level of discussion. The roles and responsibilities for the position matched my strengths and experience well. We were on the same wavelength. It felt great! In the midst of all this, I had some additional and very encouraging networking lunches and a new business meeting, too. Positive feedback was coming from every direction, and I was starting to feel like a power manifester!

So, by Friday, I was ready for a break. A girlfriend invited me to a spontaneous lunch, and I was delighted. I thought about canceling my early afternoon networking meeting in favor of doing some shopping. But I went anyway. Sure enough, while talking with my contact, he told me that all the director-level positions within the organization had been filled…and then he recommended that I apply for another opportunity that had just opened up, Vice President of Marketing. Woo-hoo! Once again, I am reminded that the universe has a delightful sense of humor.

So, to briefly recap the evolution of my search:

  • I had to leave the position I was in to spend the time and effort figuring out what my next step might be. I’m still not crystal clear and the opportunities for which I’ve interviewed have all been vastly different, but their commonalities are that I will feel I’m putting something more positive into the world, that I will be able to make a greater immediate contribution to the organization and have greater visibility.
  • Even though I am not safely, happily and comfortably within a new role, I feel great about where I’m at and that I’m being authentic to myself in the path I’m taking. Speaking my truth and having that met with positive cues or responses is contributing to my belief that I’m taking all the right steps.
  • I would not have had the confidence to apply for a vice president position while in my old role — and, in fact, the progression of interviewing for two manager positions and realizing the senior director role is a much better match is what’s given me the confidence to go for it!

So you see, I’ve made a certain amount of progress on my path. I’m going to keep working my plan, putting my authentic self out there, knowing that the right one of these wonderful opportunities will manifest at the right time. Meanwhile, I am genuinely grateful for the opportunity to go about this my way.

Up next:  an online dating update.

mourning among my adopted family

It’s been a rough couple of days, and I find I have a story to tell. Seems I usually do. Actually, this might be more like two stories.

When I was in college, I dated a professor’s son (actually, I dated more than one, but let’s leave the others for another time). His mother taught writing courses and was known to be tough and opinionated. So, of course I sought her out. Academically, she liked me.

My boyfriend / professor’s son lived at home, so there was that inevitable morning when I walked down through the living room and had to say, “Good morning, Doctor, I’ll see you later in class.” Since it was a small school, everyone in my social circle had heard the news by lunch time. This counts among the three most embarrassing moments of my life.

But the real story here is that, when the boyfriend went off to grad school, his mother, my professor, adopted me. I wasn’t her only adopted student but, because I was close to her son, I think she liked having me around as a way to feel closer to him. She fed me elaborate meals and played the piano and we talked about everything from art and politics to gender roles and sex. I met his two brothers, his nephews and niece, his grandparents… After college, I moved closer to his grandparents and would take his grandmother shopping, since she no longer drove.

The boyfriend and I had an off-again, on-again long-distance relationship filled with the usual yearning, expectations, longing and heartache. People around us sincerely believed we would one day marry. For a long time, I think we did, too. In the end, I lost the boyfriend but kept the family. My former boyfriend married. To this day, I call the boys my brothers.

We lost the doctor recently and, over the weekend, I celebrated her life with my “brothers” and “nephew.” A common theme at family occasions is the closeness I share with the eldest of these boys. Apparently this chafes the youngest, my ex, as noted by the middle son who remarked, “Yeah, I’ve heard all about it” not long after I walked into the house over the weekend.

I suppose there may be rules and boundaries that one ought to consider in relationship situations like this. But I’m not going to analyze them here and now. I simply want to share the reason you haven’t seen a post from me in a few days — I’ve needed some time to process a great loss for me personally, but even more so for these wonderful brothers from another mother. And I’ve needed to absorb and recognize that, however young and dumb and unable to articulate our feelings or negotiate our relationship at the time, I broke someone’s heart — without ever really realizing it.

I suspect there may be more to come on all this…after I’ve had a little time to put it into perspective.

eight years ago I met a man…

Eight years ago this week…

… at a conference in Chicago, I was standing at a cocktail table chatting with some female colleagues when a man approached our table.

I noticed as he walked toward us. He was tall, urbane and curls spilled off the top of his head. Before he had even stopped or uttered a greeting, a voice in my head said, “So that’s the man I would have met if I’d moved to Chicago.”

Let’s stop for a moment to ponder this:  I knew nothing about this man. He wasn’t my usual type. I didn’t know whether he lived in Chicago (after all, it was an international conference). While I’d contemplated moving there a few times, there was nothing to suggest I’d have met him if I had. So it seemed a bit brazen of my brain to pop off with such a bold proclamation. And, of course, the rational voice in my head was appalled — it jumped in with a correction:  “That’s the kind of man I might have met if I’d moved to Chicago.” It’s strange to have an internal dialogue like this — unusual enough that I still remember it.

I generally give my subconscious mind quite a bit of credit. I think it cues me in to some synchronicities and connections that I might otherwise miss. So it seemed to me that the very act of noticing this man might suggest some energetic or karmic connection. Perhaps there was a lesson or exchange to come of our having met — or the potential for something more. I prefer not to jump to conclusions about what it might mean, but it happens rarely enough so that I’ve learned to pay attention.

Anyway…he was friendly and engaging, and he worked for the conference organizer. He wore a ring. After a spell, we all decided to move on to our various evening plans. As I stepped from behind the skirted high top, my six-month pregnant belly emerged into view. The man’s jaw dropped, although I couldn’t have known why it was such a shock to him that I was pregnant. But he had clearly noticed me, too.

At a later moment in the conference, we crossed paths again. I was being introduced to someone and he suddenly appeared, remarking, “…and isn’t she the cutest pregnant woman you’ve ever seen?!” A woman never forgets a compliment like that.

The conference ended and we each went back to our happy lives — me to my husband, daughter and soon-to-be-born son; him to his wife.

Chi-guy would call my office every so many months, looking for a quote for an article he was writing, sometimes for a topic so completely irrelevant to my industry that I knew it was merely an excuse. His voice was an effeminate tenor with a hint of resonance; pleasant, but not manly.

And then I did a big, groundbreaking deal, the sort that gets national attention. So I called him, sent him the media materials, asked him to write about it and landed an invitation to speak at the annual conference. It was now 2005, two years after we’d first met.

When I arrived at the conference, my tall, urbane, curly-haired friend was nowhere to be found. I kept anticipating that I’d see him — or that he might make a point of seeking me out. Finally, one of his colleagues told me that he’d been hoping to introduce me before I went on stage, but he had the flu, and I was unlikely to see him at all. So it was a surprise when Chi-guy arrived ten minutes before my presentation. And I secretly thought that he must have been awfully motivated to see me, to show up when not even his colleagues expected him. I was flattered.

The next day, he introduced me to his wife and confided that they were expecting.

Chi-guy and I stayed loosely in touch over the next few years, emailing once or twice a year, if that. Eventually, we found each other on Facebook, which made it easier to stay connected, and I would ask him for restaurant recommendations when I traveled to Chicago; we exchanged a few pleasantries about parenting or books, but never managed to connect in person.

And that was the extent of our very loose mutual admiration…until nine months ago

advice from friends

Most of us could be a better friend to ourselves. By that I mean we allow our internal dialogue to run on, focused on our failures, our shortcomings, our fears and our doubts. If we actually confessed these same thoughts to a friend, he or she would say…well, probably something like the below:

From Max:

“Stop thinking about your marriage or life in terms of the failure. Instead, look at all that you’ve accomplished and gained in the past decade — you have a home and two beautiful children and more career and life experience. That’s a lot to be proud of.” He was right. Looking at my life in this way took some of the pressure off — it’s not as though I’m starting my life over from scratch, renting an apartment, my biological clock ticking as I desperately search for a mate.

Girlfriend Candy gave me this nugget:

“You are making all your dreams come true. You’re more than a writer; you’re a published author. Look at your blog and how it’s touched your readers — and you’ve made enough posts with enough content to fill a book!” That’s great perspective, too. Embarking on this blog has been cathartic emotionally, a great way to connect with some new people, and a way to discipline myself to regularly publish (which is difficult for my abstract-thinking, perfectionist side).

I am blessed to have surrounded myself with love as I go through so many challenges and changes! And, with all this support, I am learning to become a better friend to myself.

cheap sex? on my terms

Slate recently published an article called Sex is Cheap:  Why young men have the upper hand in bed, even when they’re failing in life. The article, written by a man, is based on research and data from around the world.

My colleague and 20-Nothings author, Jessie Rosen, followed up with her astute commentary here.

And still I think it’s worth exploring whether the equation changes as we get older, specifically for single women approaching or into their forties. First, let’s acknowledge that, by this time in life, some things have changed for women:

  • Our libidos are more active. While men are alleged to peak in sex drive at 19, women’s libidos allegedly peak at 30. I say allegedly, because most women I know would argue that we’re even more libidinous at 40. (And because I’ve experienced 50-year-olds with as much energy as any 19-year-old.)
  • For many of us, sex is no longer about our biological clock and securing commitment, DNA and a provider for our children. Many of us have already met that need, more or less.
  • We’re more confident — this means being more comfortable in our bodies, more assertive about getting our needs met, more able to be direct and more able to walk away (after all, by this time in life, we’re likely to have acquired more toys — a.k.a. The Elite Sophisticate, Doc Johnson or simply BOB, for Battery-Operated Boyfriend).
  • We’ve gained a lot more relationship experience, whether we’ve been married and divorced or not.

So…is sex still cheap? A quick look at the dynamics on online dating sites or in any bar will assure you that, yes, sex is still cheap . Men, it seems, are able to find willing partners whatever their station in life. As are women.

But, based on my own experience and some anecdotal evidence from my contemporaries, the balance of power has undergone a nuanced shift:  the women I know who are serious about seeking a mate date multiple men — and they wait to sleep with any of the serious contenders. They’ve learned a thing or two about how to develop a relationship and they know that sex can complicate their emotions when they’re exploring whether someone is right for them. Instead, they enjoy steamy liaisons with a hot guy who they’ve already concluded is Mr. Wrong.

By forty, most single women can walk into a bar, pick up a man, take him home, sleep with him and forget it. And they can communicate to men they really care about that they’re looking for commitment and not willing to get sexually involved without it. They know how to respect themselves and, thus, demand respect from a man. (And if you’re a single woman and this doesn’t resonate with you, you’ve at least got to admit to having learned enough to know what you’re getting in to.)

The implication for men at this juncture in life is that, especially if they are finally looking for a life mate, the tables may have turned. If a woman sleeps with a man right away, it could very well be a relationship death knell. It may mean she’s already ruled him out.

post-feminist dating

I was a staunch feminist in college and beyond. My serious papers took on sexist language and such things. I’ve been called a femi-nazi on more than one occasion. So let’s relate this to dating…

If I don’t come across as particularly adept at dating now, you can imagine what an idealistic (in all the wrong ways) fool about it I was in my twenties. One of my more memorable boyfriends lived hand-to-mouth. Much of the time he didn’t have a dime to his name — but when he did, he was sure to buy me gifts or treat me to an amazing night out. I went dutch with lots of guys, too. I remember reading an article that promoted the notion that couples should contribute equally to relationships, and should strive to date at the level that the lower-earner of the two can afford. But let’s get real:  very few couples are composed of equal earners or equally motivated partners.

Frankly,  I now wonder whether not allowing a man to buy dinner when dating could have landed me in a decade-long relationship in which I supported an entire family. Perhaps there is such a thing as too much self-sufficiency. And I’m through supporting a perfectly capable man!

Contrast my past approach with a sassy widow I know. She recently revealed that she asks men who ask her out to pay her sitter.

Damn, girl! The last time I was in the dating game, it was common to split the tab. It was only the older, wealthier men who you knew with confidence were buying dinner. Either that, or I was just too dumb or too feminist. (And, no, I don’t believe they are the same thing.)

At this point in my life, I’ve developed an appreciation for receiving male attention in many of its forms, including gifts, meals, etc. In other words, it’s pretty unlikely that I’m going to pull out my wallet on the first couple of dates. Still, I’m not sure how that conversation goes…

He:  “So, wanna go out for a drink sometime?”

She:  “Sure, if you’re willing to pay for my babysitter.”

Which brings me back to my point:  If we get what we expect, then I’m okay with expecting a lot. I’m a successful woman; I deserve a successful mate. But I have yet to master the language of high expectations — i.e. the language of asking or negotiating for something I know I can provide for myself.

My friend puts it this way:  “We pay for the manicure, pedicure, brow wax, facial, we get made up and do our hair — look at the investment of time and money we’ll put into looking and feeling good for a date! And all he’s gotta do is pay for dinner and a movie?! No. I let him know that if he wants to go out with me, this is part of it. Maybe on the second and third dates, I’ll split the cost of the sitter and, if I like the guy after that, I may leave my children with my mom or sister. But my reality is that I have children, and he might as well understand that now.”

This woman has set the bar high. I can respect that. There are some dating experts out there who might refer to this as “Degree of Difficulty,” as in, a woman should have a high DoD in order to attract a guy who is willing to work hard to make her happy.

In any case, if she can rock it, I’m gonna learn to rock it, too!

ah, memories

Occasionally I look back on the time in my late 20s when I dated a millionaire and wonder what the hell I was thinking letting him go!

We enjoyed taking his private plane (he had a pilot’s license and a small twin-engine) to his Caribbean home, being treated to meals and gifts, never having to worry about a thing. Let me paint a picture of one of my most fond remembrances for you:

I was on the phone with this wealthy older man, a friend who had not yet told me he was interested in more. He was planning a trip to New York and I asked if I might join him — I could use an escape and New York is beautiful in the autumn.

“Yeah, for sure!” he said. And then, to my surprise, he paid my airfare and gave me the address of where we’d be staying:  a tony address on the east side of the Park where some friends of his had an apartment.

I took a cab from JFK. When I told the cabbie the address, he did a double-take in the mirror and asked, “You goin’ home?” I told him I was visiting with a friend, and the apartment was owned by friends of my friend. He said, “You got the look. Someday you gonna be rich enough to buy a place like that, too.”

“From your lips to God’s ears,” I replied.

The cabbie dropped me off across from the park and I gave the doorman my name. I was the first to arrive. The doorman carried my luggage up to the 7th floor and let me in. I put some Nina Simone on the stereo, pulled out a New Yorker and relaxed on a chaise near the windows overlooking the park. I was completely relaxed and in my element. After my friend arrived, we took a walk, stopping at Bulgari so I could buy some perfume and asked that it be delivered to the doorman in “our” building, then we bought some nice bottles of wine, also having them delivered. We went out to nice restaurants, watched the US Open of Tennis and window shopped. New York in the autumn is so lovely!

I look back at this time in my life and recall how much I enjoyed the intellectual connection and conversation with this fellow, as well as the lifestyle. Early on, his friends would ask how long we’d known each other — time that could be counted in months — and remark that we seemed so comfortable and friendly as to have known each other for a decade. It was a lovely compliment. Perhaps I was just so relaxed about it all because I never took the relationship seriously.

After all, he’d had children who were then in their teens and had been “fixed.” And I was certain I wanted children of my own. His lifestyle of excess caused some discomfort with me, an eco-conscious “awakening consumer.” He drove a sports car and frequented “gentlemen’s clubs,” so I thought him a bit of a pig and teased him about it. And some control issues began to appear in the last days of our togetherness. Yet sometimes I wonder if any of those differences or issues would have been any more difficult to handle than the things I dealt with in a relationship with the man who I truly loved and with whom I ultimately shared a decade of my life.

In hindsight, what was excess to me then may now be abundance. And all those other things, if we’d really loved each other, we may have been able to communicate through. Or am I just wearing rose-colored glasses?

Actually, probably the main reason I recall this time in my life and this relationship with fondness is that I never lost myself in it. I didn’t take it too seriously, I wasn’t working (over-functioning) to get my man; he was working to woo me. And I could take him or leave him. He adored me for me being myself. And when it seemed he didn’t, I let him go…and that’s a great lesson for me to carry forward into future relationships.

reflections on the one-year milestone

My ex moved out a year ago today.

Thinking about that still hurts my heart just a little. There’s a tender spot as I reflect on the heartache and pain I suffered (and just as likely caused for another) in my marriage, as well as the failure to provide my children what I believed was so important to give them — a solid, secure and loving family environment.

(As I write this, Dusty Springfield has rotated into my iTunes playlist with I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself. Would you call that ironic?)

The melancholy in reflecting on this stems from two sources:  First, that I loved so much and so deeply and yet didn’t know how to love, as surely causing pain to object of my love as he did to me. Second, that I chose so poorly in the first place. It’s difficult to accept that I knew so little about myself or was blind to so many signs that I picked a partner who would draw out so much pain and anger, forcing me to deal with them and grow (while he simply pointed fingers). I can’t help but believe there had to have been a kinder, gentler way to learn these lessons.

(And now Joan Armatrading’s Willow — “I said I’m strong, straight, willing to be your shelter in the storm…”)

I still remember the first day of it being just us:  my two elementary-school-age children and me. I explained to them that, without Daddy here every day to do things for them, they would have to help out by making their own school lunches, among other things. I assured them I would step in to help when needed, and that we were all capable and would be fine taking responsibility for ourselves and helping each other.

This is when my son teared up, “I don’t know if I can do it, Mommy.” He is a tender-hearted young soul, and so generous with his empathy and feelings! He continued to stress through the evening and even as I tucked him in to bed. My daughter, on the other hand, was excited about being given more independence and responsibility.

The next morning, everyone got up just a little earlier and pushed through the morning tasks of dressing, eating breakfast, making lunch, etc. just a little more diligently. We all got out the door on time, successfully. My favorite moment was at the end of the day when my son remarked, “Mommy, I guess I didn’t even need to worry.”

These past twelve months have also brought a number of lessons and much growth. I recall feeling that taking out the trash and recycling wasn’t really adding to my workload. And I also remember discovering other areas where my ex picked up more slack than I ever realized or gave him credit for. It hasn’t always been easy, and there have been plenty of hiccups along the way — my ex appears to be declining to communicate with me right now, as an example. Yet I can’t help feeling that we’ve come a long way.

My children have gained patience, self-reliance, a greater understanding that their parents are merely human and the capacity to be more helpful and responsible than I might have thought possible for their ages. (And still I work to balance this with their need for innocence.)

As for me, I am gaining confidence in making the choices and life decisions that nurture me. I am seeing more clearly what happens when I neglect to do important things that I’d prefer to ignore (the banking, taxes and money management, for instance). I am growing stronger, more clear and determined in my life path. And I am learning how empowering it is to commit to my own happiness, even if it requires making choices that once seemed impossible.

(Citizen Cope If There’s Love)

So I keep going back to my son’s wise words:  “I guess I didn’t need to worry.”

doing it like a man

About eleven months ago…

My counsellor had recommended I go out and “have sex like a man.” But with full-time work and parenting, I couldn’t find the time or opportunity to make it happen — even if I had the skills or guts.

But there was a possibility coming up…a work trip — without any co-workers. While on this trip, I would be going to an evening event celebrating creative people. It all sounded quite promising! Among the usual toiletries and clothes, I packed a nice dress, heels and condoms.

My trip began with aircraft maintenance problems, flight delays and diversions. I was lucky to arrive at my destination city and check into the hotel with barely enough time to dress for dinner. Thus, I hit the open bar with a vengeance. I’ll spare you the dinner highlights in favor of the after party. I was excited to see some attractive men milling about; unfortunately, most were accompanied by women, gay or oh so young! The one person I knew joined me at the old-school arcade games and, after a short time, a man approached. He was unremarkable, but attentive. Meanwhile, a beverage company representative struck up a conversation and brought a steady stream of wine and bubbly.

Anyone who’s seen me around an old-school Ms. Pac-Man game can imagine the scene. I’m completely obsessed, sucked into round after round of play, meanwhile holding conversations, drinking drinks, saying goodnight to the woman I knew, etc. Finally, I had to pull myself a way. The gentleman who was playing with me joined me at the bar. It was beginning to dawn on me that I’d consumed many more drinks than I could handle (and it was way past my bed time), so I asked for water. We moved to a cocktail table. He was blathering on about some event he’d been to the previous night when I put my hand behind his neck and planted my lips on his. We must have made out, there in public, for a complete 30 to 45 seconds before I asked him if he’d like to come to my room.

Without missing a beat, he said, “yes,” and we proceeded down the elevator, through the hall and into my room, where we continued to make out while undressing each other. I discovered at this time that he had a rather big paunch. In fact, he had the type of distinctly British body that might suggest he’s never seen the inside of a gym nor donned any type of athletic gear. Even tennis shoes. No matter. We were in it now. And what the hell kind of undies were those? Not very masculine. (Marks & Spencer, I later learned.)

So this is how it went:  he was safe and attentive and creative. He took time to prop pillows in the right places. His eyes were kind. He licked my foot. We had a bit of naughty fun and then passed out. When I awoke in the middle of the night with a splitting headache and need to empty my bladder, I thought, “Oh shit. He’s still here.”

In the morning, he was a bit chatty for my pounding head. But he was charming, engaging and intelligent, and his British accent didn’t hurt. I realized I could only recall his name because when I had moaned, “Oh God!,” he had corrected me. He had lovely brown eyes.

When he enquired for the second time whether I wanted to join him in the shower, I told him that I really just wanted to go back to sleep. I rolled over and he rubbed my back. He asked if he could get my email address or phone number and I replied blandly, “Why don’t you just leave your card on the desk and I’ll reach out if I feel like it.” So he dressed and left.

For the first time in my life, I had behaved like a complete slut — and I felt powerful!

Only later did I realize how vulnerable I had been and the risks I had taken. And I found myself feeling relieved and eternally grateful for having found this particular gent for my first post-marriage romp. Luckily, the only casualty was a pearl earring, which I never recovered.

Later, as I recalled the story to girlfriends, their eyes grew wide, jaws dropped (in recognition of how completely out of character this was) and, to my utter surprise, more than one exclaimed, “Oh my God, you’re my hero!” If they thought I didn’t have it in me…well, I guess I showed them! More importantly, I showed me. I had finally had sex like a man.

true story: the gift that kept on giving

Every so often I get a call from an old friend to tell me a truly heartwarming story…about a car. I know this sounds really weird, but bear with me.

There was a time in my late twenties during which I lived in an apartment, owned two cars — a luxury model my friends dubbed “the golden slipper” and a sports car — both of which were parked on the street. And I got tired of maintaining them both — trying to wash off the tree crud and wax them and insure them both. It seemed a little ridiculous for a single gal. And, as much as I loved my responsive little Mazda RX-7 and manual 5-speed transmission, I was ready to let her go.

Some background:  I had purchased the RX-7 from my mother and stepfather. It was originally a California car, in pristine condition, never exposed to road salt or the elements. I don’t recall the year anymore — only that it was deemed one of the best years in terms of design. I paid $3,000 in $500 installments, unloading a Ford Taurus in the process.

I loved and babied the car, storing it during the midwest winters. Eighteen months after I’d purchased it, the RX-7 and I were caught in a hail storm. The insurance company deemed it a total loss and assigned the fair market value at something approaching $5,700. After deducting the salvage cost, I drove my car home with a $3,800 check in hand — on the white finish, you could barely see the hail dents.

A year later, I realized it was time to sell one of my cars. I was ready to let the RX-7 go. I took some photos and cobbled together the kind of flyer you see posted on bulletin boards, with tear-off phone numbers along the bottom, and sent these along to work with several friends. A few days later, I had a message from someone who worked with my friend Joe. He came with his 17-year-old son to look at the RX-7. I cautioned him:  she wasn’t a car for a teenager, she should be stored in the winter, a young kid with no experience driving a stick shift could get in trouble with a high-revving responsive car like this. The more I cautioned them, the more determined they seemed. I suddenly didn’t want to sell my car, at least not to a 17-year-old boy, yet I eventually let her go for $3,750.

And that’s how a boy named Evan drove off with a car that captivated his interest and imagination. The RX-7, with its Wankel rotary engine, quickly became his passion and obsession. He was able to give the car more love and attention than I had, and he reached out to online forums and groups to chat, learn and explore everything there was to know about the car and its engine. He worked to make payments on the car and for his insurance, and bought parts to replace any that were no longer pristine. Regular updates came to me from Joe, who heard these things from the boy’s father. Evan’s older brother had turned to drugs, and their father was positively convinced that a car, my car, had saved his son’s life.

After graduating high school, Evan moved to Arizona and opened a mechanic’s shop, specializing in his passion for RX-7s and the rotary engine. He had an online presence and sold parts. He was doing very well for himself and his father was proud to go visit him.

It’s been the better part of a decade since I’ve heard updates from Joe on his co-worker’s son. So it was fun to hear recently, out of the blue, what Evan’s up to now:

He acquired an RX-8 when they came out and began playing with that, too, replacing, upgrading and customizing. He shared his work on YouTube. And Mazda saw what he was doing and asked him to do some work for them.

I don’t know the details. I only know that it feels so good to hear that someone’s life can be touched randomly, when they find that one thing that sparks their passion. And it’s lovely to think that an object, a possession, might be truly special — special enough to give me back more than I paid for it twice, and special enough to alter a young man’s life permanently. His return on investment must be much, much greater than mine. That car was charmed, I swear, and I am grateful to have been a steward of her magic, even if for such a short time.

And, in the same way that hearing the latest in this story warmed my heart earlier this week, I hope you got a warm, fuzzy feeling reading about it. Personally, I needed a little something positive today.