The other night I had a dream that I was working again at my old law firm on some kind of special project. They had call me in because they needed my expertise (as profound as it is) and familiarity with the firm. Even in my dream state I was doubting why I had accepted this job. "I need the money, but not this badly." At the firm, I saw all of the old people, as well as a few strangers who had joined the firm since my departure. I was dressed casually and felt uncomfortable, yet I was sitting around a big conference table getting ready to dive back into a particular kind of work and working environment.
When I woke up I thanked my lucky stars once again for my change in circumstance. I think I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about that place -- mentally mapping the hallways, checking out the current roster of attorneys on the website, skimming through Google News. As time has passed my impressions of that place, and my role there, have changed. In some ways I invested too much there; I put too much value on others' opinions and gave them the same tools they later used to cut me. But who could have foreseen that.
Of course, the enduring legacy of that experience has been a lasting doubt in my own professional ability, the deflation of my self-confidence. On some days I'm angry about that. But all of that is over now, and only in my dreams would I ever cross that threshold again.