Image created by Amanda.
I pack up my desk, turn in my badge, and walk out of the building. I think I should say something out loud to commemorate the occasion, so I let out a decent, “Whoohoo!” before glancing around to see if anyone taking a smoke break heard me. I don’t see anyone, but then I think I hear a faint clap. Maybe it’s just in my mind.
I call Ries on the walk to the car, carrying the large bag I bought when I started working at Hyatt when Gus was four months old. I had never been a big bag person, but I needed something to fit my breast pump in, and that happened to be the only thing I could find at Target. I’m taking it to Goodwill this week.
I get in the car, so hot it’s difficult to breathe, and set my bag down in the passenger seat. The tune of “House of the Rising Sun” is stuck in my head. I listened to the Westworld soundtrack a lot while I was writing articles for work, but I don’t know the words.
I make a mental note that this may be the last time I am here. I don’t think I’ll be back again. I don’t have any desire to return.
I turn on “House of the Rising Sun” and drive a couple miles in the wrong direction to pick up an Amish angel food cake for my mom who watched Gus on my last day of work. I play the song with the windows down and my arm out the side. Something about the air pushing against my hand is one of the few things I’ve been able to do to “connect with nature” in the past year of working in rooms without windows. The thought that it “makes me feel alive” crosses my mind, and I’m embarrassed of the thought—I think of young women in 1950’s clothing driving in a convertible in the dark with their hands in the air and not wearing seatbelts and I think my foolish arm out the window is just about as alive as a stacked piece of firewood.
An Amish boy on a bike waves at me as I pull out of the gravel lot, and some part of me is surprised. I assumed he wouldn’t acknowledge I was there, and when he waves, I’m suddenly aware of that being an odd assumption.
I drive an hour home, pick up Ries, meet my mom at the apartment and introduce her to our new kitten, who is not my cat, but she’s Gus’ kitten and she’s good, except when she chews cords. I spent three years teaching Nugget what he could and couldn’t do. This kitten barely knows who I am, I’ve been home so little.
Mom brought meat and puts it in my freezer. I’ll have time to cook that now. She brought a mum and a pumpkin for the porch, which is crowded with trash, potting soil, and boxes. I’ll clean it up this week.
I take off my dress—I’ll get rid of that too— and roll around on the bed with Gus and Ries, and sigh and make loud noises trying to shake loose the past eleven months, but it’s like scratching a callus and nothing much happens. I order Indian—Paneer Mahkani—my favorite, which will upset my stomach, but I’ve determined I’ll start taking care of myself on Thursday after I go grocery shopping tomorrow. I try to take a nap, but can’t.
Gus opens the door and is surprised to find me. Ries apologizes and I tell him I couldn’t fall asleep. I head out to the living room, switch on Stardew Valley and Gus sits on my lap taking turns eating a peach and feeding it to me. It’s sweet and perfect and we eat it until the food arrives.
After we eat, we get Gus ready for bed, and while he and I are waiting for Ries, I turn “House of the Rising Sun” on for Gus, who dances in my arms to the song, and I whistle the tune to him. He smiles the widest smile when I whistle to him and we spin in circles and gallop around the living room.
I tell him tomorrow, everything will be different. Everything will be better than before. And I mean it.
I’ve spent the past five years feeling badly about myself and my inability to get the jobs I want. I’ve had friends and family telling me I should be working when I’m not working, and I shouldn’t be working when I’m trying to make enough for us to scrape by.
I don’t want to be a teacher. I don’t want to be a waiter. I don’t want to be a hotel manager. I don’t want to be an administrative assistant. I don’t want to be a contractor. I don’t want to commute three hours a day. I don’t want to commute two hours a day. I honestly don’t want to commute even one hour a day. I have things to do.
I have cooking to do. I have running to do. I have yoga to do. I have sleeping to do. I have sleep training to do. And toddler feeding to do. I have kitten taming to do. I have writing to do. I have blogging to do. I have befriending to do. I have re-friending to do. I have personal development to do. I have wifing to do. I have momming to do. I have grocery shopping to do. I have web development class to do.
I have felt like I had nothing of value to offer for so long, and I’m done. I am taking the next couple months off work to recover from the past year of soul crushing I’ve endured, to spend more time with a little boy who waves at me every time I put something in my purse because he expects me to leave, and I’m going to educate myself on skills that this society values, because I know I have a lot to give, and I’m going to find a better way to give it.
I will always, always, always say this—it is never too late to hit a reset button when you’re unhappy with the life you’re living. This is my reset button and I’m really excited about it.