I’m taking a brief detour from our adventure to share some more recent stories, but next post, we go to Greece.
(Just a note to all my friends before you read this piece and call inquiring politely or covertly on the state of my mental health: I am absolutely fine. I over-dramatize the events of the last five months because I think it’s funny and cultivating a sense of humor over the matter is a healthy coping mechanism. So don’t worry, I’m fine. Thanks for caring.)
I may be starting to freak out. It was bound to happen. I’d say it was only a matter of time and that time has come. My birthday may have had something to do with it but mostly I think it was time.
Yeah five months ago when we first came home, I bragged to friends about how for the first time in my life, I was plan-free, living life off track, post-corporate and proud. I am no longer okay with these things. And while I do have a plan now, it is evolving at a pace so slow it could kill me. I also bragged that one of the lessons I learned from our trip was that life has a pace of its own and you just have to go with the flow. Despite that revelation, I’ll probably die still trying to swim against it.
When I went out for a girl’s night the week we got home, I actually told my friends that they were stressing me out. Seriously. In a voice reminiscent of the cast from “Dazed and Confused,” I told two of my closest girlfriends—amazing women who were juggling the complexities of work, husbands, kids, and life in general—that they were bumming me out. I was still reeling from my world awareness high and the issues of building a life in modern America seemed so unnecessary.
(I also got really drunk and muttered under my breath that my friend was “no longer a good person.” I didn’t mean it obviously, but my psyche was in culture shock and I was having a hard time reconciling the girl that helped me collect coins for months in a jug wine jar so we could buy a flat iron with the woman who was suggesting we call a car and and skip the train to get from Brooklyn back to her house in Connecticut. We did take the car and I didn’t even offer to pay. Who’s the bad person now? Also, sidebar to the sidebar: I discovered just yesterday that she still owns said flat iron, which I gave to her when I wanted to trade up for a newer model.)
I am working with a theory right now that suggests the dirty little secret of the life I grew up in is that things are so good, so comfortable, just so fine that we actually have to make up things to be upset about. Take a brief survey of your problems and assess which ones are actually self-inflicted, self-perpetuating and which ones are real. And even though I recognize that, I can help inflicting a little existential pain on myself.
The oh-for-the-first-time-in-my-adult-life-I-don’t-have-a-plan-Molly got left behind when I could still joke with people that we were summering at my parents house in CT, rather than living with them because we don’t have jobs to support ourselves. Suburban squatting is what I call it now. I hope it’s self-deprecating enough to get a little laugh from people but not insulting to my parents who have been so supportive. They’re so generous that not only do they let us live in their house, eat their food, use their wifi, and drive their cars, they were also willing to star in my parody video of the whole experience.
But it’s hard coming home, especially if you were the kid that was so independent she was never going to live at home. I created that narrative a long time ago, and I lived with it for all of my adult life, so you can understand how reshaping it has been a process.
When I went down to the town hall in my hometown to re-register to vote, the women helping me with the form looked very confused about me. Finally it came out that she had a daughter that went to my high school that was about my age. I later figured that her daughter was probably in my older sister’s class. But at the time, I could not get out of there fast enough and agreed non-committally with everything that she said. But then came the ego-blow.
“So moving back home are we?” she asked in that faux concern, thrilled at the prospect of some juicy gossip, sing-song tone.
I murmured something about traveling the world for a year with my husband and looking for jobs so we could move back to New York City which is where we had been living for the past ten years and working successfully before we voluntarily took off to travel around the world. But the damage was done. I left and had a good, short cry in the car, drove home and fished my uninsured engagement ring out of the safe and wore it around for the next week to make myself feel better.
Having a job is paramount to my new life plan. We can’t justify the cost of a New York apartment while we have a cozy bed that’s close enough to the city for visits and interviews. Similarly, I can’t sign off on big-ticket, vanity expenses like paying for the insurance on my ring or the data plan on an expensive smartphone. (Though I do have to say, using the bedroom I used to share with my sister as a walk-in-closet is an unexpected perk. I’ve never had a walk-in-closet before!)
But I’ve considered pursuing the following money-making endeavors to help us get by: babysitting, retail, waitress, and day laborer. (Although, I am assuming one of the upsides to hiring day laborers is that you don’t have to put up with any lip from the paid help over your design choices.)
A friend did get me a couple days of work as a fashion assistant. I was going to include those adventures here but I think I’ve got enough material for a separate post. And Nellu verified votes for the AP for three days so we do have a little money coming in.
In the meantime, I’ve executed a self-imposed restraining order on commenting or liking friends posts on Facebook. (This is similar to my self-imposed restraining order on the overuse of exclamations in my emails.) But sometimes I can’t help myself and I go on a like-clicking frenzy. (And you would too if you saw the absolutely adorable pictures of my sisters’ and friends’ kids in their Halloween costumes.)
I’ve become a connoisseur of cat videos and Gangnam style tributes. (Apparently there was a recent cat video film festival and Henri 2, Paw de Deux won a well deserved award for top video.) I do this mostly under the guise of research. I want to be gainfully employed, writing and creating video for the web, news video really, but it’s important for me to know what’s out there, right? This is the same justification that led me to conclude I could sample the local brews abroad and call that research too.
I actively look forward to “Mentalist” marathons and I try hard to suppress my disappointment when they air shows I’ve already seen. I may have go cold turkey on this addiction because after five months, I’m pretty much caught up.
And I resist the urge to sign on to the Colbert Report’s “Better Know a District” map and go on a clicking rampage encouraging Congresspeople all over the country to be “better known” every time I see the ad. (But now that I am an official Connecticut voter, I may give into this one.)
While I do spend most of my days in my worn yoga pants and fleece swag from my old job, I have an active policy stating that neither velour pants nor my fleece-lined Crocs should be worn out of the house. Although, on more than one occasion, you could catch me running errands in my Crocs.
And I’ve made progress on retraining my hair. This is just a nice way of saying that I go as long as I can without washing my hair so that I can wash it less often when I am gainfully employed, which I hope will be soon, real soon.
I lived for a long-time in the world where my job dictated my large degree of my self-worth. Rewriting this story is hard. Change and transition are hard. But not as hard as not having food, running water, internal heat, access to education, opportunity, upward mobility or dealing with the persistent threat of violence, conflict or war on a daily basis. Shall I go on or should I just stop freaking out and be grateful that I have such a cushy place to squat?