Three Years | One To Nothin'

Three Years


We drove for five days, and despite 23 years of yelling, poking, crying and “no, YOU shut ups” we managed to cross the California state border without any screaming matches. Maybe a huffy silence here or a “ugh, I don’t want to listen to this” there, but overall it was peaceful, fun, exciting and terrifying. I thought it wouldn't end. How could I stay all the way over here when my sister would be all the way back there?

“I’m moving to California, I’m moving to California, I’m moving to California."

The mantra I repeated to myself constantly the full year prior, but now I was doing it. It had to happen. There comes a point where you’ve talked about something so many times that if you don’t actually do it, everyone knows you’re a fraud. That’s why I kept talking. I couldn’t and wouldn’t back down. I had a going away party - Official. I wouldn’t let them know the coward inside. I did it even though I was scared.

There were times I tried to run.

The first, approximately 10 minutes after arriving at my new, temporary home. A big, slobbery dog barked and drooled on my suitcase before peeing on the carpet, the dishes piled high (and flies happily feasting) in the sink, a condom wrapper in my room; take me home, now. Instead she took me to Wal-mart. We bought cleaning supplies and drank until we passed out. He bought the wine (and without his generosity, I might not have made it out here).

I don’t remember being hungover but I do remember the In-N-Out burgers he left on the counter and crying as I hugged her goodbye at the airport. Then there was the first job interview. I got it. I could be an experienced swimwear copywriter by now for $13 an hour; I made $15 babysitting down the road. I turned it down -- my confidence was up. Connections got me my first office job, and I thought to myself, “This is it. I’m where I’m supposed to be.” Until I wasn’t.

It’s only been three years since that first bed, first job, first apartment, first disappointment, but it wasn’t the first or last time I’d get my hopes up just to have them smashed back down. Each time I thought of moving. Back where it was safe, cheap, easy. Each time I didn’t, and I’m so grateful.

The day I got laid off, I cried in bossman’s office and tried to sneak away without anyone seeing my tear-stained cheeks. I went to my apartment I could no longer afford and Ziggy frantically jumped on me trying to stop the sobs. It was around 2pm and I started sending out cover letters after meticulously crafting the text so it wasn’t too dramatic or pathetic and didn’t make my mom think something awful had happened. When the boy who gave me butterflies showed up, he saw me typing away, a ghostly contrast to the blood red accent wall. He was impressed, “If it were me, I’d be drinking already,” he mused. We drank, and then we broke up two months later. 

I actually did run to Florida that time, but only for 12 days. The day I got back I was hired as a nanny. I'd never changed a diaper in my life, and I have no idea what they saw in me, but that was that. I didn’t think “nanny” was in my career plan, but I had at least $1,200 in bills to pay each month and I was not about to lose my apartment. It was a six month gig that turned into 10, and at the end of it, when I got turned down by three different interviews, the next boy moved cross-country, my lease ended and I had no place to live, I was really close to leaving.

“You can’t leave yet,” he said with eight years of SF living under his belt. “No, really. Not yet.” 

For three weeks I lived with relatives of the family I nannied for until I found a place in Oakland. It was cheaper than my previous apartment, and even though the commute was longer, I was determined to make a home out of this town I used to be scared of. Within two weeks of moving, I got two job offers on the same day. “This is it. Finally,” I thought to myself. It wasn’t. 

Despite the 90-minute commute both ways, I loved it. A ping pong table, a latte machine, food trucks out front and an ocean view. My paychecks were the highest they’d ever been, and I had a side job picking out clothes for people. I felt independent, strong, successful. I was single, for real. Maybe for the first time ever. I was making good money. I was busy. I loved my roommates. l was making new friends. 1989 had just come out. It was a good time. It only took a year for the commute and contractor status to take its toll. But along the way I met a great guy, went on new and exciting adventures and felt cozy in my small, shitty apartment. Still there was that nagging feeling.

“Everyone else has benefits. Everyone else is getting paid on the Fourth of July. Everyone else has the opportunity to move up and learn new things.” Comparisons, the little assholes that bruise your psyche and steal your happiness.

Through the noise of the party I heard, “Copywriter.” Huh? “We’re hiring a copywriter.” That’s what I do, I told her. Send your resume, now. I did. Three days later, hired. Higher paychecks, shorter commute, benefits, PTO. Yes. I didn’t do my research. I ignored my gut. I didn’t look in and consider my long-term goals. I said yes for my resume, not for me. I was scared, but they had faith in me, or so it seemed. I jumped in, with the support of the boyfriend (The all-in kind that I hadn't known in quite some time), a fancy successful sounding job title I could throw around at happy hours and we toasted champagne over an expensive dinner. “THIS time. THIS is fate.. right?,” I thought, a little more skeptically this time.

Of course it wasn’t.

I started two weeks later. All my interviewers were fired two weeks after that. I still hadn’t received training. Suddenly I'd never met my new boss and the silence and lack of morale I’d been trying not to notice for the first 14 days got so loud I had to make eye contact. I didn’t know the technology. I never knew what was expected of me. I was afraid to ask questions. Everything I did was a waste of time, altered beyond recognition. Six months. I felt tired looking at the orange carpet. I couldn’t wait for lunch. I came home crying often. I was miserable. I quit. I flew to Hawaii.

Now I'm a nanny.

“You’re selling yourself short.” “This is an opportunity to make real money.” “What’s really going on here?” boss said. He didn’t understand. Maybe you don’t either. Perhaps from the outside it looks like I’m throwing my career away, but to me it looks like I’m choosing happiness. 

“I can’t wait for you to get back to your roots,” mom said. I’ve sent her a photo of that beautiful baby girl every day since I started. I’ve made too many decisions based on what others might think. I choose happiness and freedom. Bills will be tough, but I won’t stop writing. I write for me. I’m not wasting my degree and I’m not selling myself short. I have plans, ideas, adventures that can’t come to fruition if I’m unhappy. 

When I first moved here, I thought I’d be three years into one company, moving on up in my writing career, but that hasn’t been my path. I’m starting to think it never was my path.

I like variety. I like challenges. I like babies, and I hate offices.


I have no idea what the next three years will look like, but I know I’ll look back at this time in the future and smile knowing that I got to enjoy this chapter in this place with more free time, less money and more happiness.

7 comments:

  1. Lovely Post and very heartfelt.

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  2. Damn, girl. You *are* a writer. ❤️

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  3. <3 <3 <3 I think (hope) you know how much I feel this, all of this. You are not wasting anything. You are being everything you need to right now.

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  4. I haven't been keeping up too much with my own blog or others lately but I'm glad I decided to today! I've been struggling with similar with job plans, benefits, yada yada and the same annoyance of "expectations and wasting my life away," when I mention nannying. I always have it in the back of my mind though. I'm glad you're doing something you love now! And Hawaii looked beyond fantastic! Enjoy! :)

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  6. WOW this is powerful. Please keep doing what you do - you are a rockstar!

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