As of 8:05 a.m. this morning, I am a free agent. Floating. I have no base. No dock. No boundaries. No limits.
The company I worked for had lost two big clients in a matter of months, and I knew my part-time tech writer position was on the line since business was slow and the revenue had taken a hit. But it was still a shock to have my boss hand me my notice and final paycheck saying I could leave: “There’s no reason for you to stay.”
It was bittersweet. I liked working as a technical writer, and my employers were kind and genuine people who ran a tight ship. I respected them, which made this part even harder. But as I walked to my car, arms clasping the classic banker’s box filled with what meager items I owned at the office, I felt relief. Which excited and scared me at the same time. I felt guilty for being relieved…but guilt was soon mixed with a sense of freedom and adventure; I could finally chase what I have been dreaming of doing for years…I could finally pursue my writing with nothing, nor anyone, to hold me back.
Naturally, I immediately drove to my husband’s work to share the news. I love that man. He spent the better part of 20 minutes quieting my doubts while squeezing my hands and lovingly ordering my irrational mind to stop thinking this was a bad thing, reiterating his support for me and telling me over and over that he believes in me. (Can I just take a moment to say how important it is as a writer to have that One Person who supports you unconditionally? My husband has definitely taught me a thing or two about trust and forgiveness and how True Love comes before all else and always, always wins. But more on that some other time.)
His words comforted me…and reminded me of my dreams and my strengths. Still, being a chick and full of uncontrollable hormones and emotions, it all bubbled to the surface and I wept silently on the drive home. What am I going to do now? Where do I go? I parked my car in front of the house my husband and I had just closed on the week before, and I dried my tears. Staring back at my reflection in the rear view mirror, limited by its frame, I had a mini pep talk with that puffy slice of my face, which went a little something like this:
Where to go, what to do. I knew exactly what would happen if I walked into that house with the wrong mindset. I would drop that box and hate on it with glares and burning tears from the sanctuary of my bedroom where the Thinking would begin. I would take a hot shower or bath and Think until the water heater stopped doing its job. I would cry some more, probably. I’m not super emotional…but I ugly-angry-cry when the time is right. And Thinking is a fun yet dangerous game my mind likes to play with me; it can be such a glorious tool of inspiration and focus when I want it to be…but it can also lead to some very dark places when my mood suits me. I knew that if I let the Thinking happen with the wrong attitude, I would go from sad to hurt to pissed to frustrated and then…and then depression would sink in and more Thinking and there is no knowing of when I would be able to snap out of it. This moment in my life was too important to let something like that happen. Life is all about choices, is it not? I needed to make one. A big one. It would set my course for the rest of my life, of that I had no doubt.
So. I unbuckled my seat belt, grabbed that sad banker’s box, and waltzed right into my incredible dream house. And this time, with a plan. I took out the contents of the box and put them away where they belonged. I read and re-read my termination letter…and, with a groan, I remembered I needed to file for unemployment as soon as possible. Yes, later. Stay focused. I took my final paycheck, signed it and stuffed it in my wallet. I gathered up my writing equipment and supplies in my trunk and set it by the door, then ran to the bathroom to dab on a little extra makeup for kicks (because, let’s be honest, a good makeup application can move mountains with a self-esteem boost, and I was ready to move Mt. Everest). Car loaded, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I set out to conquer this sudden obstacle and to make it my b*tch.
To the bank! I deposited my paycheck into savings, knowing it would tempt me if it was in my checking account, and, quite frankly, things were going to be a little tight now and I had to watch every dollar. While I waited in line, I sent a few text messages to my People–to the most important individuals in my life–family and close friends to tell them the news. I received a lot of Oh no’s and I’m sorry’s, as well as some words of encouragement and congratulatory sentiments (I couldn’t help but laugh when my friends applauded the news). The friends who know me best immediately said, “Now you can write!” And, while to some that may seem insensitive, my dear friends (my People) know me best…and they were absolutely correct. Which is why my next and final stop would be Archive, my sanctuary away from home. The place I go to when I need to write freely and with unending inspiration bestowed by their unique atmosphere which I love so much.
Archive Coffee & Bar always makes me breathe easy, and the words come and come and come in a rush without end, only stopping when I realize I’m exhausted or starving beyond belief or my 3-hour parking time is up and I need to move my car. My tea or coffee always gets cold before I remember to drink it because my typing fingers can never quite keep up with my thoughts. I’ve always felt welcome here–always been greeted with a smile and occasionally a fun expression when I bust out Ulrich (my travel typewriter, a WWII Hermes Baby Rocket).
This new chapter of my life needed to begin in the right place…I’m not sure about timing, because I couldn’t control that, but as for Place…Place is important to a writer, and I certainly had control over that. Place, setting, location…it sets the mood, sets the story. Without Place we are…lost. Quite literally. And it couldn’t be more important for me to have Place than in this very moment, at this very crossroad. In fact, I had just read an excellent article on important questions Creatives should ask themselves, and it touched on the importance of Places and People for us writers, photographers, and artists alike. It resounded with me in this very moment as I realized who my People and Places were. Now more than ever, it is my responsibility and in my best interests to gather them closely around me as this page turns to reveal the next stage of my Journey (click here to read the actual article, 4 Career Decisions Every Creative Should Make, by MusicBed.com). That being said, I heaved yet another sigh of relief to know that I had a home here at Archive, as well as a new home under our house’s roof–two places I knew I could start this new adventure with fresh eyes and a welcoming atmosphere. I had my Places to go to where I could breathe and spread my wings. I had my People to surround me and speak truth into my life. Today I was blessed with the chance to turn this writing passion of mine into an actual career…that came with an income. But it would require work–hard work…articles don’t write themselves, Etsy shops don’t run themselves, and mortgage money certainly doesn’t grow on trees. But I would finally be earning it on my own terms and by doing something I loved.
Don’t get me wrong, losing a job is terrifying. But I’m learning how one’s attitude really determines the outcome of the situation. As I sit here in Archive, watching people come and go, meeting for business or pleasure, baristas making coffees and teas and joking and busying themselves, I am watching life happening. Life is happening. What am I doing about it? What are you doing about it? My God, what have I been missing out on? This isn’t some mind-blowing epiphany I had–I simply looked long and hard at what the heck I was doing with my time…because I won’t get it back once it’s gone. I do not see myself living a life likened to Walter Mitty, but I most certainly can’t see myself, personally, spending my days in a cubicle. I wasn’t designed that way. Most Creatives aren’t. There’s no right or wrong way to spend your days, as long as you are living a life that is fulfilling and meaningful. Well, what does that look like? For me, it looks like adventures and typewriters and paper and books and travel and friends and laughter and more love than I know what to do with. I’ve been given the opportunity to make it happen. Truly happen. But at the end of the day, it’s up to me to see it through.
And this time, at this very moment in my life, I’m ready for it. Fully and completely. I now know what it feels like to “have the stars align” and to be filled with the purest form of Possibility. I wish for nothing more than to bottle this up and spread it to the rest of the world. Where to go…what to do…the possibilities are endless, not only for myself, but for anyone. The only one holding us back is our Self.
As for me, I refuse to stand in my own way any longer. Getting let go from my day job was the best thing that could have happened to me right now. For the first time in all my days, I am right where I should be, doing exactly what I was born to do. And I have never felt more alive.