I keep forgetting that I quit my job. I know intellectually of course that I did it, also because I blabbed it all over creation which is one of my ways of making something seem real. (Besides, you know, just looking at it and identifying it as real and making a sandwich or something. Obviously I am not one for economy of speech or action a lot of the time.)
But I keep having these moments since I did my Leap Day thing where I realize that holy shit I quit, I did, I did oh my God, I did. And now what am I going to do? The fear monster lurches up and for what appears to be a maximum of thirty seconds I freak out and there is a valley in my sternum where all of my panic and anxiety have a timeshare, and then all of a sudden it is gone when I realize that yes, it is done. I shrink into myself in bed at night, hug myself even, staving off worry that comes most heavy in the dark. But then it passes, because it has to. The thing is done, finally, and there is some kind of basic relief in not having to think about it hypothetically anymore. I can rest in that feeling for a long time, turns out.
These are called helicopters in certain circles. I will write a story about them someday too.
I have had to tell people, had to talk it through, the need-to-know-basis people as well as those who I'm just lucky enough to have around who care. And through that telling I'm feeling a certain level of figuring out what I think and feel about it, because that's the curse of the verbal processor. And yet I feel a remarkably lessened need to justify, to make it better for anyone else, beyond common courtesy to people who do have some kind of investment in my happiness and who are supports for me, and that is new and probably good. Laying your decisions on other people in that way isn't fair, and it does nothing to give me power. It just means I can say they didn't want it, they thought it was a bad idea, and that's a weak way out, really. Approval is so fleeting, anyway. It just was a necessary move for me, and although I wish I could entirely reassure myself that it will be an easy road to a new situation, minus major bumps and losses and fears and hangups, I can't. I have no idea. I know how I can sketch the outline in my mind, how I already am doing that with the personal imperative that I not get too far ahead of myself lest I wreck myself in that imaginary process, but you know as well as I do that the best laid plans for everything are just that.
HYSTERIA OMG IT'S ALL GOING TO EXPLODE IN AN EXPLOSION.
I don't really think so, though. I think, mostly, that I have to keep my wits about me, as birthday boy Seuss might say, "that's important to do/ for someone as fucked up yet witsy as you." (I made that up. Please do not sue me, Geisel estate. I love Yertle the Turtle the best. I repped him this week. Don't sue me.)
Apropos of all of this, when I was on the plane to Blissdom last week, a relatively short flight from Baltimore, I got out my iPad and I started typing. "Goals," I typed, while the little lady next to me gawked over my arm and her vodka at my digital ruled paper. (I let her look. Whatever.) Well technically first I typed "I'm free from Wednesday until Monday. That is enough for me," which was a dirty dirty lie, and "I was born with a hole in my heart/the size of my landlocked travels," which was a lyric in a favorite song I'd just listened to that turned out to have another shade of meaning too, I guess. And then I typed some goals for the vodka lady and me, taptaptap:
*To move through the world joyfully.
*To feel strong, connected, and content.
*To do work that reflects my gifts, interests, and values.
*To build my own business.
*To love and be loved.
*To live in community.
To move through the world joyfully? GET OUT, right? But really. I looked out the window and back at my screen and that was the first thing that came up, the top of a list of basics.
I've had some before, I have, a long time ago and recently. For instance that is a dog on my head, who may not have been sharing my joy, come to think of it.
There were some more specific things besides these that still need some hothouse time in corners of my heart and mind, but the general stuff made sense. It's the stuff I've stood up in front of classrooms of teenagers seeking career direction and told them to prioritize, while I basically ignored it myself. It's the stuff I've told them that they get the luxury to consider at their ages, without so many constraints of finances or personal responsibilities to others (although they have those to, obviously. I've just learned a lot about the power of the reset and the experiment, and you just have more chances for that at 19 than 41, if I understand math at all, which is admittedly shaky ground.)
My advice turned inward, finally. I'd been talking to myself as much as them for all of these years, never really having the courage to step outside of that preaching spot of inaction, although I danced with it sometimes and went home alone. And whereas I have a bit more on the line at this point, it's really all relative. I had no idea on that Nashville plane that I was going to do what I did this week. Other things transpired to move it forward, to make the words more real, shifts in my heart and mind that made it possible, a sense that if not now, when, if not me, who, and all that jazz.
I don't know how it happened, exactly. I just know that the writing is opening up a little, and that's good. I'm feeling a little more conversational here than I have in a long time, and I'm going to go with that flow. I do know that I have received incredibly generous and supportive feedback from the internet this week, some from people I know well and some from strangers who connect with the concept of leaping, with taking a chance against all good sense and physical evidence. I'd like to share some of that here moving forward because I think in a time in the world where these is so much anger and confusion mixed with hope and raised voices (because far beyond me, this week has been about Rush Limbaugh daring to call someone else of any gender a slut, a Maryland vote for marriage equality and a likely referendum to put the issue to a popular vote that is stirring and scaring my homegirl soul on a very basic level, Kirk Cameron bitching about gay people and people inexplicably listening, a mean-spirited watch for Lindsay Lohan to fail on national television, and Santorum everywhere, the list goes on.) people are crying for chances and change and the potential to make whatever is into something better. My tiny life is a part of that in some way, so many others are too. I'm grabbing ahold of that story, and maybe I'll find a way to tell some of it as the days go on.
What I did learn this week is that true friends are essential, that I can have challenging conversations, tell and hear the truth and not die (I learn that anew every time, what?) and that some people will amazingly offer help and resources just because, especially if you cop to needing them in the first place. I found solace in my pictures and some music that I hadn't found in a long time, and in pre-spring cleaning, in rolling out the refrigerator and sweeping behind it, in deep cleaning the inside of it, because it's among my least favorite chores and it's satisfying to get it done well. I learned that an excellent meal and one really, really good vodka gimlet with someone who fundamentally gets me and makes me laugh until I choke on that drink, is the best capper for a heavy week, is the best indicator of living right on some level.
There is something about big change that sends me back to the basics, to the things that will always be, as a gentle reminder, maybe. I am still more excited than scared, and I'm going to hold onto that for as long as I can, at least until the way clears out a little.