Presiding Over the Sunset of our Professional Practice

sunset in clearwater

Sitting on the end of our bed, I was staring into Linda’s side of the closet. She owns some very bright clothing, clothing worn by anyone else that would seem flamboyant. In fact, Linda can wear an ugly Christmas sweater with style; it becomes part of her wardrobe.
I’m dressed as I often am for work – grey stone washed jeans, a black button-down shirt, grey checked jacket and black high-tops. It goes well with my white hair and my white beard.
I think the differences in our style speaks a lot about differences in our personalities. I tend to be direct in communication while Linda is more nuanced. In many ways it has served us well in the almost 20 years we’ve been business partners.
As I write this, Linda is sitting for a job interview. Professionally, whether we like it or not, we are going through a partnership divorce. When the two of us left our last dealership on December 21st, she said, “I won’t stand in the way of your next job.” What I heard was more realistically, “I won’t let you stand in the way of my career.”
Standing by her side as she went through her anxiety last night and hovering as she buzzed about with barely contained excitement this morning, I couldn’t help feeling the contrast between her warm and bubbling personality and my greyness.

We just came off a 16-day road trip to and from Florida.
Linda and I have discovered we’re good at being on an adventure together. Well, as couple over the last 20 years until this trip, we were. We’ve only really hinted at the reality that we’re going through this professional divorce, but the mix of emotions have been there and left us each in our own dissociative fugue.
The greatest sadness for me is that we’ll never be able to validate our last twenty years together. Each of us has made choices in support of the other that has entailed personal and professional sacrifice. Each of us has had our share of #MeToo moments on that journey that not only impacted us individually but together as a couple. Linda has opined more than once that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result” when talking about what hasn’t been working in our business but we’ve never really explored how that referred to a couple in business together.
For almost the entirety of our relationship we’ve also been a professional partnership. I guess the greatest fear for both of us, unspoken, is that as we move apart in our own respective directions professionally, we also risk moving apart as a couple.
But I’m willing to take that risk. If anyone deserves to be able to realize her ambitions, it is Linda. The rest will just have to take care of itself.