Always ahead of the curve, I was downsized from my “oh-so-important tech job” seven months ago, right before the economic decline. And while the Puritan in me made plans to snag another job immediately, the quieter, wise me heaped a big sigh of relief. The truth was I didn’t love my job. In fact, I detested it. I stayed because the money was good and with a decent salary, one can buy a lot of diversion. Initially, I was quite disciplined with my time and finances weren’t pressing. Off to the gym, job hunt at the neighborhood coffee house. For years as a working stiff, I’d dash into the same coffeehouse on the way to work and enviously eye customers leisurely sipping their ten syllable caffeinated drinks. I’d wonder what the hell they did for a living. Why weren’t they in a hurry like me? Even though I stopped there every day, I didn’t know the name nor barely acknowledged the kind barista who knew my order before I placed it. Now I was in the leisure class and became quite acquainted with the barista—Susan from Austin. After taking coffee, discussing Susan’s love life (we became fast friends), and my job hunt, I’d amble off to the farmers market to pickup ingredients for an elaborate meal. I had time to cook again. I love cooking. I’d aimlessly wander down aisles at the market admiring produce, gave serious consideration to the best bottle of wine for that evening’s meal. On a whim I’d add another course to the menu just because. Then I’d go home, put on music, and cook. Not the rushed, just get it on the table cooking; the relaxed, contemplative, romance the food cooking. Being single, my friends were the beneficiaries of my largess.
Eventually, I had a few job hits and nailed interviews, everything was going as planned. Except, I didn’t get any of the jobs. When the first offer didn’t materialize, I was disappointed, but not defeated. When the fifth offer didn’t materialize, I took to my bed—in protest—not self-pity. I stayed in bed for four days. I mentally replayed encounters with the asshole sales guy from my former job; thought of clever retorts to the former manager who never supported me, and I cried a lot. What would I do next? Why was I searching for the same job I had? Why was I hurt I couldn’t get it again? What was my Plan B?
Money low and savings depleted, I couldn’t afford the ingredients for elaborate meals. Instead of my daily coffee with Susan the barista, I had to buy a pound of beans and make my own. I still had the gym membership, but no motivation to go. All diversions gone, it was just me and my thoughts. It was awful. I started asking myself the tough questions and I had no answers. Not being in a serious relationship and childless never bothered me, now suddenly it did. Everything about my life bothered me. Oh my god, it was a midlife crisis. I was forty-five, jobless, loveless, childless, and didn’t know what to do. How do you search for a job when you don’t know what you want to do? How do you search for a serious relationship when you’re feeling incomplete? Forty-five and rethinking motherhood? What the hell!
It was time to take action, create a plan. Instead, I went to bed again. This time it was self-pity. I cried about lost relationships, miss opportunities, no money, and plenty of bills. I beat myself up for every wrong thing in my life. Eventually I got up. Slowly, I realized I have a close network of friends, a loving family and though feeling the economic punch, I had food, clothing (though my wardrobe of choice was PJs), and shelter. I started focusing on what brought me true pleasure in life and realized most of it didn’t cost money—a walk in the park, helping others, social justice, writing, and cooking. I started tutoring children at an underprivileged school, which gives me more joy than I can describe. I became involved in social activism, something I hadn’t done since college. I used my ingredients on hand to make fabulous, healthy meals. And now I write. I have days when I revert, but I’m kinder to myself when that happens. Growth isn’t linear, at least mine isn’t. I haven’t given up on love. I know if someone comes into my life, he’ll see the real me. In this process, I’ve rediscovered her, she’s quite a catch.