On February 7, 2014, I celebrated an anniversary. On that day, I had not had a full-time job for two years.
Those who know me already know this about me – I like not working every day. I don’t like thinking about from where my next dollar will come, but I no longer place any value on myself in reference to my work status. I used to. After I was fired from Mintz & Hoke in 2003, I learned not to. I figured if they could fire me after all I had done while working there, I needed to rethink who I was. There is a party game. It goes like this. What are you? Name three things. The most true thing first. For years and years, I was
1. A production manager
2. A wife
3. A friend
Two and three varied, but for 20 years, I was a production manager first and always. A cruel lesson I had to learn, but like many tough experiences in life – I am so much better for it. Cancer – better for it. Battered woman – better for it. Infertile – better for it. All true.
Now this sound like it could be a depressing blog but I tell you, it is not and will not end up that way.
I am selling my condo that I have owned for the last 10 years. I can no longer afford to live here. It is my favorite place I have ever lived. I suppose I could find two lousy-paying full-time jobs but I don’t want to. And lucky for me, I have another option. I am moving in with my parents. (Plus a huge shout-out to the Affordable Care Act AKA Obamacare.)
And this is what this blog is really about. Me, moving back to my childhood home.
You read about this all the time. You are reading about this now. We are living in a strange world. This economy is in an uproar. I always did the right thing. I saved money. I supported myself. I owned my own home. Three times I bought a home. I started at the bottom and made my way up to a spot where I could do what I wanted. Within reason. I remember buying my first house in 1985 and when we came out of the closing, we had about $100 left. But we made a comeback. We were careful and frugal. And later on we, and then I, went on nice vacations. I drove a relatively new car. I picked up the tab. If I wanted something new, I bought it. New Nikes. A prime rib to feed my friends at dinner. Sushi once a week. A mani/pedi. A book. Flowers for the dining room table. A pizza delivered. A massage. Just regular stuff. Nothing too extravagant. What everyone wants to make life nice. I don’t buy any of these things now.
When I was a kid, I moved to Florida. It was 1977. I answered an ad for a job with “Kelly Girls” to work at a printer as a secretary/receptionist. Voila! The rest is history – I went into printing – remember drinks around the table – what are you – I am a production manager. I was made for that job. I had never heard of a production manager when I was growing up and all at once, I was one. And I was good at it. But print is dying a slow and painful death. It won’t die all the way. It will reincarnate as a smaller type of business. PDF and the internet took care of that. And I’m OK with progress. I love the internet. I was a library freak when I was a kid and I’m an internet freak now. I love looking stuff up. I used to keep a dictionary by my bed. I read in bed. Every night. I liked to open an encyclopedia to any page and read about what I landed on. Encyclopedias are gone. Now we have Wikipedia. And I like Wikipedia too. And Google.
So I was laid off two years ago and I looked for a job. But I had been working in printing since 1977. This is 2014. I am 58 years old. It is hard enough to get a job at my age, but I’m a one-trick pony to employers. I know what I am. I know I am not a one-trick pony. I’m smart and funny and patient and passionate and flexible and fast and a very good student. But I have given up on convincing anyone new of that. And I no longer worry about it.
I have done some volunteer work at the daycare at the Y. That led to a job as a sub Pre-K teacher. I helped a friend with an older relative. That led to respite care. And work through Care.com. I’ve done some editing for a university alumni magazine. Now I’m driving escort cars. With the oversize load sign on top? And the flashing lights? And a CB radio and orange flags? And I have to say, I love it. And it pays quite well. Not much going on in the winter but it’s good. No politics. No crap. No fighting. And if there is, I pay no attention. I go where they tell me. I do what they tell me. Then I go home. I am going to try to support myself for a long time doing this. My “friends” say I am a paid escort. I love them too.
So back to moving. I like my parents. They like me. Dare I say, it might be love?
At the end of last summer and early fall, I let a friend stay in my condo. I spent most of that time with my parents, in both Maine and Connecticut. I had been considering moving in with them and in the back of my mind, I was afraid we might drive each other nuts and I wanted to test the waters. And you know what? I dove right in and the water was fine. I kept asking my mother, “Am I driving you nuts?” And she kept saying, “No. Are we driving you nuts?” And the answer was no from my end too. When I finally came back to my condo, my mother called me and said, “Come back. I don’t want to do my own laundry.”
Another thing to know about me. In addition to being Self-Appointed Hair Critic to the World, I am the Queen of Laundry. Believe it. I separate. I do the hot, warm, cold loads. Every single time. I use bleach as needed. Every single time. Yes. No short cuts. I’m a good production manager. Probably why I was able to stay in my condo for two years without a real job. I sold my Wii, my grandmothers crocks and kitchen antiques, my china and crystal, my jewelry, my jewelry armoire, designer clothes, and many more things that I cannot recall right now. And I will sell lots more before I am through. Because I am moving.
I am heading toward a new chapter in my life. I will live with my parents. It will be good for me. It will be good for them. I won’t have to work ever again in a full-time job about which I do not care. I will do for them the things that become more difficult as they age. And they will make my life easier. We will take turns cooking. My father and I want a big garden. I love yard work. I will do dishes and laundry. I will run up and down the stairs. I can watch their dog if they want to go somewhere and they can watch Dante for me. I will drive my escort vehicles. I will be busy in the nice seasons and slow in the winter.
I will enter a new phase of my life. I will peel down another layer and explore the person who is there – someone different yet the same in many ways. As I have done many times before. I look forward to it. I embrace it. My life is good. It was good and will continue to be.
I am at a party. I am playing the game. I am
1. A daughter
2. A dog mother
3. A friend
I another few years, I may be someone else.
But for now – with my family, my friends and my dog, I’m happy.