But it was 2007, and the newspaper industry was well into its decline. Plus I was based out west. To be close to Asad while he finished school, I’d have to find something other than a reporting job—and move across the country. American University had a one-year teaching position in journalism. I told myself it was okay to relocate for a man because it was just a short-term job, not a career change.
This is the part of the story where I’m supposed to tell you Asad and I rode off together and I eventually found my way back to reporting. We didn’t. I didn’t. Four months after I moved, our relationship ended in a much less interesting way than how it started.
A week after that, AU offered me a tenure-track position. I felt ecstatic and queasy: Hadn’t I gotten my teaching job only because of a man? What would my college friends say? Many of them had gotten married; some had changed their names. While a few had powered ahead with their careers, others had chosen less demanding professions or become stay-at-home moms. Some of us were happy most of the time; some of us weren’t. Whether we were seemed to have little to do with how far we’d deviated from our agendas for a man.
Fast-forward three years: I now carry a box of dustless chalk in my bag. My hand is steady as a fresh piece glides on the blackboard. I love teaching, I love my students, I love journalism because I can teach it to young people, and I love Washington, that ever-shifting cacophony of cultures, bureaucracies, decisions—of people from everywhere and nowhere.
And I love Asad. Not because I still want to be with him but because he gave me a reason to find my way into this new place, this life I never planned.
This article appears in the July 2011 issue of The Washingtonian. The name of Chuang's former bodyguard, Asad, is a pseudonym.
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