Honest to God, I remember being sixteen—the emotions, the compulsions that drove me, how impossible it was to hold my tongue (to tell the truth I’m not sure that part has changed). So when my daughter, Motrin-ed up and thinking she feels better on her third day of sickness commented to me: “I don’t know how you sit in this house and do nothing all day” I only took minor exception. “I wouldn’t say I do nothing…” after which she was abashed enough to say, “You know what I mean.”
The thing is I do.
When I received my outplacement package, an underlying panic swirled. That next day, after my husband kissed me goodbye, I leaned over the kitchen counter with tears dripping down my cheeks. Yes, I was worried about the money, the insurance, the 401K—and darn it, my feelings were hurt—but none of that was why I cried. Hovering over me was a crackling cloud of terror that with no job, and an almost grown daughter, I'd be consumed—swallowed by a mindless tornado of empty routine—that I’d spend my life wandering the rooms of my echoing house. That dread compelled me to scrabble like a rodent, digging for worthwhile activity, and suddenly, I’m here. With a life, inside the house and out.
My sister, who retired almost two years ago, told me it would take me at least twelve months to get used to the rhythm of this new stage. Perhaps I am on schedule. Closing in on nine months, there’s a routine of volunteering, walking, self-educating, blogging, and now, slowly, slowly, I am beginning to write for pay.
Somehow, it feels right, and yes, all the time now I'd like to spell that word “write.”
After my husband backed down the driveway that morning, I made my way to the computer. It dumbfounds me, given my panic, how quickly after receiving a pink slip—one blog post to be exact—I understood that my next career had to involve words. For someone who specialized in passivity--allowing a company to dictate my career, I’m astonished how easy it is to stick to my new direction. I get it though. Passion has trampled passivity and at long last bleeds through my pores.
For the first time in my career, rather than managing people, I’m managing myself—making the plans—drawing the map. The street is recently paved. It smells like a rainbow oil slick seeping up through shimmering tar on a hot summer day—and, it’s named after me. I decide whether to plan Japanese maples or Magnolias beside it, whether it remains a meandering country lane or a freeway with synchronized traffic lights blinking at four way intersections. I’ll set the speed limit and determine if it will ribbon past green-shuttered Victorians with tumbling stone walls, or rush by the straight-sided brick of a downtown business district. I’ll chart where to layout the sidewalks and if future expansion requires dynamiting through ledge or meandering around the impasse.
There’s a lot of heavy work ahead. I haven’t finished the design; that’s going to take some time. But when all is said and done, it’s my road. It belongs to me. And however it turns out, it’s heading toward home.