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Patching My Tires

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The day I decided to quit my job was not the happiest day of my life. Rather, it was just another day in a long chain of days which had each left me feeling deflated and ripped apart like a shredded bicycle tire after running over a nail strip.

I had been losing momentum at my desk job for over a year; but because my husband was still in school, I sucked it up and pasted on a smile each day. I tried improving my outlook at work by planning and participating in office activities such as Movie Trivia Friday and Cubicle Battleship. I spear-headed the office recycling program and helped plan the summer party. I even redesigned the cover sheet we used on client proposals. Even while finishing a professional program to add to my credibility as an insurance professional, I took on additional work, hoping the challenges would give me a boost. But none of these things buoyed my spirits; I was barely keeping myself in motion.
Then the Friday after the Fourth of July came and we found out I was pregnant. Both my husband and I laughed with joy. We were delighted. My doctor confirmed I was a few weeks along. I happily kept my nausea and exhaustion a secret. I drank ginger ale by the gallon and napped in my car during lunch, cheerfully suffering the discomfort. We decided to keep my pregnancy a secret until after the first trimester in case something unfortunate happened.

Unfortunately, it did.

I was up most of the night August 13th with cramping and bleeding. I called in sick to work the next day and then called my doctor to get an appointment. Within an hour an ultrasound confirmed my worst fear. Three hours later I laid in post-opt, holding my husband's hand and hoping the painkillers would turn this day into a foggy memory. I had been nine weeks along.

Fast forward a week later when I returned to work after my mysterious but doctor-ordered absence. I stayed tight-lipped about the reason I was out; I did not want to hear how the universe works in mysterious ways or how someone else suffered a miscarriage once but now has a minivan full of kids. I did not care. My baby was gone. My baby was dead. I was no longer on the waiting list to join the universal Mommy Club.

I trudged on through the summer. I avoided parties and friends. I preferred to water my garden alone, getting little joy from picking zucchini or watching the bean plants blossom.

My legs felt heavier each day. My work assignments grew more asinine and redundant by the minute. I knew I no longer sparkled because the office manager pointed that out to me one day ("sparkling" was not in the employee handbook as a requirement for employment, like wearing business attire or punctuality, but somehow management felt being perky was tantamount to professionalism). I did not explain my lack of effervescence because it seemed none of her business. I was on time, I performed my job well and I wore pressed slacks as required.

Weeks rolled on like a rogue spare tire down a gravel road. I lost momentum with each bump and dip. I became angry with the total lack of effect my life had on others. I was helping no one improve her life nor was I improving my own. After working all day, I was too tired at night to pursue my own interests, which in turn made me even more infuriated and resentful.
And then something happened at work. I had run over broken glass on my bicycle; I came to an immediate halt and toppled over. The office manager gave me an informal review, which included harsh verdicts on procedures I had been practicing for over three years. She asked me to sign a document agreeing I would improve in the next thirty days.
Regardless if I felt these new statutes were fair or even called for, or that I had practical reasons supporting the way I did things, or if the items on this “personal improvement plan” were downright petty, all the air had been sucked from my tires by an outside force.
And that’s how I ended up in my car after work, heaving and sobbing, on what was certainly not the happiest day of my life. And I came to a decision that may have altered my life ever after: I refused to be miserable any longer.
So my husband and I formulated a new budget, we sold a few items to cover my remaining medical bills and I gave my two weeks’ notice.
And my mind began buzzing with ideas and creativity. My feet lifted off the ground when I walked, and I enjoyed picking beans from my garden.
After I turned in my office key on my last day, I stopped at a local cinnamon roll shop to purchase a celebratory treat. The little shop glowed from sunlight. The glass vases and candy dishes in the windows sparkled and nearly hummed from happiness. Homespun decorations and sweet smells gave the place a cozy feeling. Every customer I saw was cheerful. I asked management if were hiring part-time. They were.
So tomorrow I start my new job at the bakery. The days I don’t work at the shop, I will work from home pursuing personal projects or volunteering at the community center. I will patch my tires and take another road.

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