Free Falling

Saturday morning at 5 am was my last work shift. I quit my job. I had just had it with the hours, the arbitrary schedule changes, being treated like a recalcitrant three-year-old whenever I asked a question, literally being told “STOP TALKING!” when I was trying to answer a question that I had been asked. I could go on and on. How a company could manage to create a hostile work environment when you work from home is a mystery but this company did it. I had been dreading going to work for a long time, and I was lucky…I worked when all the big bosses were off (nights and weekends), but after I got off work on Tuesday mornings, I spent most of my down time worrying what I had done wrong (that I didn’t know of) and how hard I was going to get yelled at when I came back to work. Miserable.

I was professional. I put in a two-week notice. I thought about writing long, ranting letters to the powers that be, but that would have been a complete waste of energy. They don’t care. It’s a corporation. The next warm body was in the seat five minutes after I left and all will carry on. That’s been the same since there have been companies and I don’t even need to think about it. Time to move on.

The decision to quit was a confluence of many factors. About a year ago, I decided to make another trip to Scotland (which would have started tomorrow). I put in my request for time off a YEAR in advance, because one of the other things my former employer is notorious for is not allowing you to have any time off. Oh, you accrue the hours, but trying to actually TAKE the time is an entirely different story. So, I put in my request and checked up periodically to see if it had been approved, which for the most part got no response. Finally, I had some back and forth with my boss and I got the hours/days nailed down. I made plane and room reservations, etc.

Then COVID hit. Days and weeks passed and Scotland was being firm about quarantining, etc. My boss asked if I was still planning the trip. I said yes. Then, I found out my daughter needed major hip surgery the week before I was supposed to leave. That started things teetering. In the meantime, I had a long conversation with my oldest friend about how lost I was feeling and she, out of the blue, said, “Come live with me. My house is paid for and you won’t have to work for a while if you don’t want to.” I was stunned. I honestly didn’t know what to say, but simply having such a generous offer suddenly took a huge weight off my shoulders. Then, I got an e-mail from Icelandair, where I had booked my direct Denver to Glasgow flight, stating they had canceled my flight on Sept. 8 and were moving it to the same time on Sept. 7. The utter despair I felt at having to talk to my boss to let her know that my flight had been changed sealed the deal. For three years, since I started working for her, every time I needed to make a change to my schedule for a personal reason or had any kind of Internet or computer problem, I always felt she thought I was lying. Like I want to go through this misery with you just to have a night off? I don’t think so.

I can be slow to make up my mind about things, but once I’m certain, I act fast. I decided it was time to leave the soul sucking vortex of a “job” and take my friend up on her offer. But first, I will be helping my daughter get back on her feet and actually be available for a change. She won’t be able to drive for 6 weeks and will be going to lots of appointments and her husband has to continue on his job, so now I won’t have to try to juggle work, sleep and trying to help out. Once she is up and about, I will be packing a truck or a van and taking myself to Texas for the next chapter. My daughter, roommate, grandsons and a couple of other friends know, but I had to keep it close to the vest until I was actually done with working, since you never know who will say what to whom. I was a success because the busy-body coworker who reports every WORD you say to her to my former boss knew nothing when asked. I learned my lesson about her early on. Talk about food and TV shows only!

For the first time in my life, I have no real plans going forward, other than to get to Texas. In nearly 48 years of working full time, I took a month off when I had a baby and about a month off when I moved from Atlanta to Pueblo. And in both of those cases, I knew I had to work soon, and so the time was about as far from relaxing as it could be. Now, I just want to get to Alice’s house and set up my sewing machine and chill out for at least a little while. She lives on a nice piece of land out in the country and her brother lives in a small house behind hers. She also adopted her granddaughter (who just turned 18) a few years ago, so we have that in common, too. I went to visit her for Thanksgiving week in 2018, so have seen the area and it’s lovely. Of course, I’ll be in a red state and I can’t say I’m thrilled about that or the fact that they seem to be fairly anti-COVID precautions, but, again, I will be in a rural area and not doing a lot of socializing. But her house is open and airy and I also realized that living in this dark apartment has affected me more than I realized. It’s just time for something entirely new and it’s time for something that is entirely about ME for a change. I honestly have no idea what will happen, but I will figure it out. I’m going to try to embody the words of my favorite mantra: Relax, nothing is under control.

Here’s to free falling. May the parachute open when it’s supposed to.

Let Us Go Then…

A week from today, the movers will come. E and I will be moving across town (big concept in Pueblo!) to a small, 2 bedroom apartment in a small, quiet complex. I’m in the throes of sorting, tossing, packing. Things are lined up. I’m ready. I don’t think he’s completely happy about it, but I think he understands why it has to happen.

I sat in the hot tub this morning after I got back from taking him to school. I’ll miss that. I’ll miss the birds and all their social interaction. There really IS a pecking order, especially when it comes to baths (the robins will NOT bathe with the blue jays, no matter what, and the starlings, while horrible birds, are the most enthusiastic bath takers ever). I’ll miss the scent of rain in the morning, which only means that they’ve turned on the sprinkler system in the park across the street.

There’s a lot more I will miss, but there is even more that I won’t miss. I sure won’t miss the tension that has seemed to fill every corner of this house for far too long. I won’t miss being annoyed all the time and trying not to feel it, but still feeling it anyway, no matter how hard I try. Being annoyed all the time sucks. Even when you are doing your damnedest to breathe and release and understand why it’s happening, it seeps into you, like dust in a desert storm getting through the tightest cracks in a building. Being annoyed over a long period of time wears you down. It soaks into your joints worse than arthritis until just standing up is almost too much of an effort.

This all happened rather suddenly. For a while, I entertained the idea of buying the house from her. But, terms were laid down that were simply not acceptable and then I wondered if I bought the house, would I be forever judged as to how I KEPT the house. So, no. Then, I realized, deep down, home ownership just isn’t for me. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I love living IN a house. I just don’t want to do all the stuff it takes to keep it up. I’m honest enough to admit that. And, given my income, etc., I don’t have the financial resources to hire the right kind of people to do it for me. So, apartment living it is.

It’s good. It will be a perfect break…a diametric opposite from what I’ve had these past 13 years. I will breathe. I will regroup. E and I will figure this out. He’s most worried (of course) about the TV and his Xbox. I told him that whether or not we were “allowed” to take a TV, he would have one. Yes, we have argued over chattels, something I swore I would never do, but it’s better now. I’m getting stuff into boxes, and really not taking all that much, but enough. “Enough is as good as a feast.” Thank you, Mary Poppins. A bit saccharine, possibly, but true.

I spent yesterday going through old papers and letters. I found a home for my stack of fanzines. I’m re-homing some of my cookbooks and yoga magazines, but otherwise, I’m trashing stuff like crazy. You know what? It feels great. I’ve already donated several hundred pounds of books and there will be more to come. Of course, I’ll keep some, mostly those I have read before, and re-read periodically. The ones whose reading give me joy and tears and new insight each time. Yep. Those are the keepers. Otherwise, I’ll pass them along for someone else to enjoy for a while.

Nothing is permanent. And this didn’t happen because anyone hurt anyone else. No one cheated. No financial contracts were breached. The paths simply diverged, and now we have to take the ones that are meant for each of us, and those paths no longer travel side by side.

I took the boys (E and his best friend, who is at our house a lot) to see Furious Seven yesterday. E is a F&F fanatic, and knows everything about the late Paul Walker. Of course, at the end of the movie, they did a little look-back of the previous films. Then, Vin Diesel’s character was driving along an open road and came to an intersection. As he waited, another car pulled up next to him. Paul Walker, of course. They spoke through the open windows and took off together, driving side by side, equally matched for a little while. Then, the way forked. As the view pulled back to an aerial view of the two cars, each followed their respective direction and grew further and further apart. It was touching in the context of the film, of course, but it was a perfect metaphor for where I am right now.  My road is stretching out in front of me. Mine. I’m ready to follow it.

Kind of a Weird Day

That song keeps running through my head, “So, this is Christmas…” It’s been a quiet day.  I woke up in the wee hours with something close to a panic attack over the cable bill. I already volunteered to work 3 hours today because we have been swamped lately, so I just got up, made some coffee and did that.  Then I came upstairs and went back to sleep. Back before “all this” happened, G asked me if I maybe wanted to go see a movie today, since we already knew it would just be us for the day, with E. being in Denver. Of course, seeing a movie is my idea of a perfect way to celebrate any holiday, and of course I said yes. After a couple of hours of extra snoozing, I woke up to hearing G. on the phone with E. and of course then couldn’t go back to sleep. I managed to get to the bathroom before she told me that he “wanted to ask me a question” and my mind immediately went off the rails. I know. I’m bad about that, but I had been texting with him last night and he wasn’t happy about some stuff his dad was saying. I just told him that not all family stuff was going to be pleasant, as he knew from dealing with me and G and to try not to get too caught up in it. I left it with a Merry Christmas and I loved him.

So, I called him back and his question was, would it be okay with me if his dad and girlfriend gave him an X-Box for Christmas. This kid has wanted an X-Box for his entire life. In fact, the night he was shot through the arm, five years old, when we got him back from the hospital, the ONLY thing he wanted to do was play the X-Box. Half sedated, woozy with sleep and shock, and all he could do was cry for an X-Box. We have a Wii here and G was DAMNED if he was going to have an X-Box because he didn’t “deserve” it. That word. I have come to really HATE that word.

But I digress. I told him, yes, it would be fine for him to accept the X-Box, but there would be some conditions on it, i.e., he could not play it to the exclusion of all other life, to the detriment of his grades, and all that good stuff. Yeah, yeah, grandma, I know, I know…and he’s off. I imagine he’s about the happiest kid around now. We got him a phone before he left and now the X-Box. So, maybe this moving out thing won’t be so hard on him after all…as long as I have a place to plug in the X-Box…and a TV.

Then we went to the movies. Saw “Big Eyes.” It was good. I really like Amy Adams, although I think they made the film a little “prettier” than what really happened with her husband(s), but it is Hollywood, after all. Then we came home and had some Christmas dinner…Honey Baked Ham and fixin’s that G. picked up yesterday. At least I didn’t have to cook. I have not really wanted to cook much of anything in months. There’s a tell-tale sign.

And then I came down here and started putting books in boxes. I’m going to donate these and then I’ll reuse the boxes to pack what books I decide to take with me…probably very few. I no longer want many things at all. I’ve been watching House Hunters…Tiny Houses, and thinking…if it was just ME….but it won’t be just me for a while…and I have to find a place to live soon. I hope my potential roommate and I can nail down something soon, otherwise I’m just going to have to tell him I need to move on alone. I know this is probably the worst time of year to have to move out, but he’s just couch surfing and I’m in a slightly different situation, with someone tapping her feet waiting for me to be gone.

I tossed more stuff. Stuff from my mom’s estate. Cards and notes and cute little things that one accumulates over the years. Some photos. The photos, dear God. I do not want to get rid of the photos, but I think I’m going to have to invest in one of those feeder scanners so I can get them organized digitally. Thank heavens I’ve been doing digital for the last 10 years!

So, here I am, typing on this blog, trying to wrap my head around all this, trying to stave off the panic attacks, trying to see this as (mostly) a good thing. I do think it is (mostly). I haven’t broken down yet. I don’t know if I will while I’m still here or if it will catch up with me at an odd time, watching a TV show, taking a walk, reading a book. Sometimes stuff does that. Finds me when I have my guard down. If it does, that’s okay. I’ll try to go with it. In the meantime, I have a lot of stuff to sort and let go of, so I hopefully won’t have much to pack.

Carry on.