We go again.

Hey, you made it back! It’s been quiet around here lately. Almost a little too quiet. So quiet in fact, I decided to grab my life like a snow globe and give it a few enthusiastic shakings. Then I figured I’d crack it open and dump out the insides just for good measure.

Ever since returning from Seattle I’ve wanted to leave Richmond, and I’m now realizing I can’t give an adequate answer why. The magnetism of everywhere else outweighs what’s keeping me in town, and I know that’s hardly a fair reason to uproot one’s life, but I want to find the mysterium tremendum et fascinans. And earlier in the spring, it felt like I was about to finally receive my ticket out of town! In the form of a job offer! A Staff Writer position at a weekly paper! Oh, my hopes were so decidedly up after months of mentally and physically exhausting interviews and applications. All I had to do was wait for the offer to arrive. I stared at my email inbox for the better part of three weeks, waiting for the verdict (Which, by the way, is a terrible way to spend three weeks).

But everything changed on Sunday, April 19th.

3:58 PM: I’m vegetating in bed reading The Hunger Games like the 16-year-old girl I am. My phone buzzes four times quickly and my screen lights up with a text from Joe.

“Answer your phone in a few minutes”

Before I even have a chance to think about what he means, it buzzes again.

“It’s really important”

Joe and I don’t often keep a straight face for more than a few fractions of a moment, much less talk about anything anyone would consider “really important.” So I shrug it off and save my nerves.

4:03 PM: Cassie’s name pops up on my phone, and I pick up, figuring this is what Joe was referring to. She tells me one of the Route Leaders for the Northern Tier had something come up, and wasn’t going to be able to ride this summer. I’m no detective, but I’m starting to figure out what might be coming. She was asking me to fill the vacant Route Leader position.

Now, you might be thinking, “But Mike, what about the aforementioned Staff Writer position?” Glad to see you’re taking notes. There will be a test later. I explained my candidacy for the position to Cassie, and said I couldn’t sign up to be a Route Leader without knowing whether I’d get the job. I was so invested that I couldn’t just punt it away. To my graces, she waited on shopping the Route Leader vacancy to others for a few days, but she couldn’t wait forever.

A few days go by and I still don’t hear about the job, and my descent into madness hits a full nosedive. I catastrophize everything in my head, and the thought that a reality might exist in which I get neither position was insufferable. I had two chances to get out, and losing both would crush me.

But my phone did finally go off, almost four days later to the minute from when Cassie initially called me. My future waited on the other line, and I picked up feeling how I imagine criminals feel when the judge returns from their chambers, sentencing in hand.

I was politely told that, while I was a finalist, the position had been offered to someone else, and I was encouraged to apply for future openings. I was also told they’d be framing me for arson, stealing my car, and launching the rest of my possessions into the sun. Just kidding. Well, only about the last part. Ipso facto, I didn’t get the job, and I learned what it’s like to feel bitter and elated at the same time.

I’ve become no stranger to rejection through my job hunt, but you can only throw a piece of spaghetti against the wall to see if it sticks so many times before throwing it back in the pot and letting it cook. Mark my words, many an editor will rue the day they turned down Mike Platania!

So I hung up and immediately called Cassie and was like, “Hey, so I didn’t get the job, which is a bummer. Whine-whine-whine. Pout-pout-pout.”

And she was like, “Nonsense, poopypants! So you wanna route lead the Northern Tier?”

And I was like, “Mahalo to that, let’s do this thing.”

And she was like, “Clear your calendar and come to Blacksburg in a few weeks to get ready!”

So that’s about it. It’s time for Northern Tier 2: Electric Boogaloo, my way of letting my metaphorical spaghetti self cook a bit longer. If you’re feeling a bit charitable, here’s my official page. I’ll be posting here with the same unreliable regularity I did last summer, and I do hope you’ll follow along. I promise I’ll try to not complain about Montana so much (but don’t hold your breath).

My adoration for Bike the US for MS and the Northern Tier is endless, as it is documented in the archives of this website. There are so many places I can’t wait to return to, so many people I can’t wait to meet, and so many miles I can’t wait to ride. It’s been a good while (about a year if we’re being precise) since I’ve had something of this magnitude to look forward to, and I’m over the bloody moon. Whenever Don, Cassie, and the entire Bike the US for MS family ask you to do something, just say “Yes.”

The catch is, this time I’m supposed to know I’m doing. Which might be an issue, because I don’t think I’ve ever known what I’m doing. It won’t be long before I’ll be back at the Atlantic saying so long, and thanks for all the fish before taking off for Seattle once again.

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