Life is a series of decisions. Big ones. Small ones. Every one you make affects your life in some way. From the clothes you choose to the food you eat to the jobs you take. And the jobs you don't take.
The movie I quoted above, a tear-jerker starring Nicholas Cage that is somehow one of those must-watch-when-it's-on movies, is all about a glimpse at the life you could have had. And wouldn't you know, it was on television the weekend before our 10th wedding anniversary.
The movie begins with Cage and Leoni in an airport. He's heading off to a golden job opportunity that will help launch his career in finance. She's having doubts and utters the line above in an effort to convince him to stay. He doesn't. He takes the job and they don't end up together.
In this blog, I use the title to another movie to describe the journey My Director and I have shared to get here: The Story of Us. Our story would have ended if not for a job I DIDN'T take.
My goal - my dream - when I went to Syracuse to study broadcast journalism was to be the next Bob Costas. (He's a Syracuse alum.) I wanted to be the next play-by-play man of the Yankees or the next SportsCenter anchor. Soon I realized those guys (and girls) weren't enjoying college the way I wanted to enjoy college. (Drunk and foolish.) They were too serious and kind of nerdy. Yes, I chose not to be a sportscaster because I no longer considered it to be cool. I was a shallow 19 year-old. But a news guy... a news guy can be cool and taken seriously. Right?
After graduation, I sent resume tapes to dozens of television stations all over the country in towns you've probably never been to, let alone heard of. I received a couple of offers. One from a station in Meridian, MS, where I would be reporting during the week and anchoring on the weekends for $18,000 a year. A great opportunity in a decent market for someone just out of college. The other was from Lincoln, NE. I received the call on a Monday. They wanted me to anchor, report, shoot my own stories, and write and produce the show myself for $12,000 a year... and can you start Thursday?
I knew this was the way to break into the business. Do it all, one-man band reporting. Make no money in a far-away place as you build your reel and work your way back to where you want to be. I also knew that if I went to the middle of nowhere for six months or a year I would risk losing the love of my life.
I didn't get on that plane. I didn't take that job. I wanted to be close to My Director, who was still in college. I stayed at home, commuted into New York City. On most weekends I made the four-hour drive to Syracuse to see her. I still pursued reporting, just through a different route, but a short time into my career I realized I was not only good at producing, but I enjoyed it more. I had more control over more content and I didn't have to shave every day. I didn't have to be on every day, all the time. Turns out, I'm a behind-the-camera kind of guy.
My Director had plans of her own. She wanted to pursue her Master's degree in psychology and counsel people. Then I came along with my plan to stay close to home and close to Syracuse. And she decided that upon graduation she'd move in with me and pursue a career in higher education.
She chose us.
Granted, in his glimpse of what could have been, Nick Cage was a tire salesman and Tea Leoni was a pro-bono attorney. They had very little money. My Director and I have managed successful careers in our chosen fields, but our chosen fields always come second to us. Every step of the way, we have each made sacrifices professionally for the good of us.
Today My Director and I celebrate ten years of marriage. The best decision we made was a job we didn't take. We chose us.
For more on The Story of Us, click here.