happy layofferiversary…

photo by bk
 There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water?’”- David Foster Wallace

This past Monday marked my one-year “layoffiversary” from the Associated Press. It was a pretty pivotal moment in my life. Technically I didn’t stop working until one month later, but Nov. 15, 2009 remains severely etched in my memory. I remember feeling nauseous and then telling myself, unsuccessfully, not to cry in front of my bosses. There is nothing like being in a small office with two suited bosses as they hand you that packet and you realize that within a matter of seconds, your entire life has dramatically changed.

It wasn’t just losing a job. It felt like losing part of my identity. I would no longer be able to call myself a reporter from the Associated Press when I made calls. For awhile, I wouldn’t have a job to get up and go to every morning – a purpose. I was reminded of all these feelings on Monday when I realized what the date was and when my video storytelling professor had us watch the trailer for the movie “Up in the Air.” I don’t want to spoil the plot if you haven’t seen it before, but the main character played by George Clooney works for a company that’s hired by other companies to lay off their employees. I saw it in the theatre soon after my own lay off, and it choked me up at the time. I mentioned this to my professor who told me she, too, saw it right after being laid off last year. It was nice to be able to empathize.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that moment last year. It marked the end of so many things and the beginning of the new adventure that’s eventually led me to where I am now. It’s been a year of so many changes – the end of a relationship I thought was going to last far longer – the start of me trying to finally forgive and even love myself – the establishment and subsequent dissolutions of other personal relationships, etc. I had my heart broken again and again. I broke a heart again and again. I let go of a love. I fell in love unexpectedly. I applied to graduate school. I turned down a job. I moved twice – once to a new apartment and once to a new city and state. I took a new job. I crashed the first new car I’d ever bought. I started school again. I got Ruby. I went to the Caribbean. I lived by myself for the first time in awhile. I experienced my first Election Day not spent working in about 7 years. It’s all been so overwhelming at times. Sometimes I still feel like I’m just moving one foot slowly in front of another and trying to maintain my precarious balance. And now it’s been an entire year since then, marking what’s been one of the most erratic and life-changing years of my young life.

So I’m watching “Up in the Air” again tonight, drinking wine and petting my dog. I’m thinking about people and emotional baggage, and my fear of losing people, not places, not memories. I cling on to people and that makes my current state even stranger. I’ve been lonely despite my efforts not to be. All of this thinking has made me crave comfort food. Last year, my dear friends threw a dinner party in my honor following my last day of work. It was one of the nicest things that anyone’s done for me. I needed that feeling this week so I’m trying to recreate it. Collards cooked with chicken broth, garlic and sausage with garlic mashed potatoes. It’s warm and comforting and I’m trying to regain the optimism I know is lurking within.

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One Response to happy layofferiversary…

  1. OLIVIA says:

    1. that looks delicious 2. you are brave and I love reading about your cross-country branch-out, selfishly, because maybe I will do the same thing next year and it’s good to know there’s MASHED POTATOES everywhere (if you make them.)

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