Saturday, February 6, 2010

Day Five: Paths

Date: February 5, 2010
Friend: Me, Myself, and I
Activity: Returning to JAM
Location: Joslyn Art Museum
Total $ Spent: $0

I'm really not interested in kvetching about being laid off and why it's so unfair because of blah blah blah. I'm more concerned with analyzing the complex variety of thoughts and emotions one feels when their path has been changed involuntarily.

I am profoundly grateful for the 4 months of uncertainty and walking on egg shells which I would come to realize prepared me for the day I was let go. When the answer finally revealed itself, I felt surprisingly free. Each day up until then was full of "will it be today? Am I going to lose my job? Maybe I'm overreacting. I will keep doing the best work I can, and surely my efforts will be rewarded. Maybe I'm fooling myself. Maybe there is nothing I can do because maybe this is bigger than me. Maybe I should give up." Weeks of agonizing stomach pain followed sleepless nights. Insecurities ran rampant in my head and heart. "What had I done wrong? Was I not trying hard enough? Wasn't I the best possible me I could be?" When I was told my job was being eliminated, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief, sat back in the chair, and said "Okay. What do I do now?" Calm, cool, and collected. Thankful for what I thought was closure.

Today, I decided, was for me. After debating over and over whether or not to attend an event at the Museum, I realized I needed to rip off the band-aid. All of the odds were in my favor: I knew my favorite (former) co-workers would be there, I knew friends would be in attendance, I was interested in the programming for the event and was pretty certain they'd be serving that tasty gouda. I put on my best face (literally, you should have seen how much make-up I was wearing), some classic pearls, and off I went. Ready to see my ex for the first time since our break up.

I met up with my friend Scott (who will appear in this blog later) at Blue Sushi for some pre-event appetizers. It's times like these when I should really take up drinking. Even though I had expected to pay for my cherry Coke and avocado sushi, Scott covered the tab thus allowing me to stay within my $1 rules. As we drove to the Museum, the anxiety started to fester in my gut. Little flips were taking place in my stomach and my hands started to shake like I'd mixed Sudafed with 14 Jolt sodas. Then I saw my friend Jennifer in the parking lot and my nerves started to ease. See? I'll be fine. These are my friends and I'm just out on a Friday night like anyone else. I walked through the controversial revolving doors and saw my friend Kenley's bright smile. Calming down. Then I saw Angela, feeling even better. Started toward the stairs and saw Randy and Candace. Totally confident. I belong here. One more deep breath, and up the stairs we go.

The next few moments happened in slow motion. I gazed up the granite staircase, taking a snapshot of the crowd. First, I saw his unmistakable white hair. Then I noticed his stature - a giant above all the other guests. He turned toward the staircase, and I fixated on his burning stare. Oh. My. God. Of all the nights at all the events in all the world, our paths had to cross NOW???

This man was my boss at the job I held just before I started at the Museum. I walked out of that job - something I never thought I was capable of doing. He is a symbol of the only bridge I have ever burned (not counting fighting with my friend in 7th grade and not ever speaking to her again). The only other time I have seen this man was at a wedding, not long after I quit my position at his company. And yet tonight, the sight of him shook me to my core. Why did he have to grace the Museum with his presence AFTER I was laid off? When I couldn't call it "my house?" When I was feeling vulnerable and oh-so-unemployed? I had prepared myself to run into the wrong scarey man.

I'm not proud of this, but I awkwardly excused myself from my friends and instinctinvely started walking toward my old office. Luckily, I snapped out of it when I realized I no longer have keys to that hallway. I tried to shake it off with jokes, tossing my swoopy bangs aside with each "whatever" lie. I wanted to be mad at someone for not warning me that he was there. I felt betrayed that "they" fed me to the wolf like this. I finally heard my inner monologue whisper, "why do you care?" And I let it go. Back up the stairs I went.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure he recognized me. Luckily, my hair was pulled back and I wasn't wearing my glasses, and as everyone knows, I am unrecognizable without my glasses (like a superhero, only I haven't figured out my powers just yet). There were two occasions when we nearly brushed shoulders and there was a message in his look, which I couldn't decipher. It could have been "I know you from somewhere....right?" Or, more likely he was thinking "oh for heavens sake, she's here? Please don't make me talk to her."

The anxiety faded, the guests departed, the gouda was drying and mixing with the other cheeses, and I found myself staying until the end, out of habit. It was hard to leave through the front door, without Lora by my side. Hard, but bearable by this point. I am ready to admit that it doesn't feel real yet. It still seems like I'm on vacation. And that's what scares me. My path has changed, but I don't yet see where I'm supposed to go.

On deck for day six: Jara. I'll be seeing you.....


  1. Oh, that was the saddest. But in a good way! You know what I mean.

  2. Be strong my friend! I think the universe just threw everything at you to prove you can handle it. Plus, really, what's the worst that could happen? Everyone there has already done the worst thing they can do to you. And you are still standing.

    Take a day to celebrate. You are the master of your journey and none of those people have any power over you.

  3. I had to quit my last job because during a staff meeting a co-worker and my boss were openly discussing having to fire me. I feel your anxiety and pain! I also know it gets better with time.

    And what I REALLY know is how much better of I (we) are. We never know where the road will end up, but enjoy the walking while you're at it. Your heart will thank you for paying it attention.