February 1st marked the centenary of Ayn Rand's birth. This is not something I would've known had I not seen Ayn Rand and Me over at Dr. Sanity. I enjoyed reading the good doctor's perspective, but even more I appreciated the Cathy Young article, Ayn Rand at 100 at Reason Online, that Stephen Green designated as Required Reading over at VodkaPundit.
It has been several years since I've given even a passing thought to things Randian. My ex-husband introduced me to her fiction when I was a freshman in college, the exactly perfect age to be seduced by her philosophy. While there is much to admire in her work, there is also a lot that's just, well, crap. Even at the beginning, I recognized that, even though my ex was completely enamored of her and her ideals. I would say that, of all her works, We the Living had the most profound impact on me, and I found it to be the most resonant of her novels. The characters and the circumstances they endured were much more real than any others she ever produced.
So, fast forward a good 10 years, and I'm divorced from the creepy ex, and finally left the tiny economic consulting company where I was stagnating for years. I got a job with a medium-sized software company that would soon be swallowed up by Oracle. It was something of a let-down, going from having my own office in a downtown Boston high-rise with a view of the harbor to sharing an office with a view of a Waltham parking lot. But the work was interesting and so was my office-mate.
J was a little older than me, and everything I'm not: petite, blonde (really blonde), and girly. She was also an Objectivist. In spite of our differences, we got along famously. I have no idea how the subject ever came up at first, but the topic of Ayn Rand was one we bothed love to bat around. She loaned me her copies of the two Rand biographies by Barbara and Nathaniel Brandon so we could talk about them.
Eventually, J and I each got our own offices (seniority does have its privileges) and went on to work on different projects, but we respected each other's work and abilities. She and her husband moved to AZ just a few months before DH and I got married. We had had a pleasant, professional relationship, and I expected that would be that.
Just a couple of months later, though, I got a call from her out of the blue. Her husband's company was looking for people who happened to do exactly what my DH does. Would we be interested in relocating to AZ?
As much as the idea terrified me -- I had never lived farther than 75 miles away from Boston my entire life -- I told DH I'd consider it. We flew out for a weekend to see what was up, and that, basically, was that. DH got an offer; four weeks later, he headed to AZ while I put the house on the market and wrapped up my own affairs. When DH first got here, he stayed with J and her husband until he found us an apartment.
Ten years (just about), two houses, and three kids later, here we still are.
Would J and I have hit it off so thoroughly if we hadn't had Ayn Rand in common? Would J have thought to suggest my new DH to her husband as a candidate for the positions they had open?
There's no way to know, of course. I do know that my life would be inordinately different if we had stayed in MA. I don't even want to imagine what it would have been like, I confess!
In a weird way, Ayn Rand helped build the path that led me here. There is no other place I would rather be. So -- thanks, Ayn!
(As for J, our relationship was irreparable after I became pregnant with DS1, for many reasons, but chiefly because her husband was a sociopath. Sometimes when you meet someone's mate, it can change your whole opinion of them. Unfortunately, the opinion can change either for better or worse, and the more I got to know her husband, well -- I had to let it go.)