I find myself feeling greatly irritated today. Everyone’s annoying me–particularly myself.
Almost 9 months to the day, I just left a job where I’d gotten quite comfortable. As one of two supplements people at a nice health food store in Portland, Maine, I had a growing following among the locals and was known as the “supplements guru.” I counseled people on the uses of CBD oil, getting off statins, the benefits of quitting sugar, stopping a bladder infection, the power of good thinking and meditation, and all manner of natural health ideas. I’ve been a natural health researcher and practitioner for a few decades and spend most nights online looking at the latest (real) science.
But here I am leaving the comfy little space I created for myself back in September. Why?
Because, dammit, it’s time for me to leave that snug nest. Just as I was crow-barred out of California last summer, that same something-in-me has decreed that this chapter has ended.
Fortunately, about 3 weeks ago, I had the foresight (recognizing the symptoms of an impending life explosion) to find a new part-time job to keep me in a steady paycheck. Side note: fellow freelancers, have you ever noticed that every time you decide, “That’s it, I’m literally unemployable, and I’m done working for a boss for any minutes of the day!” all of your clients leave on extended vacations, go broke, or otherwise announce that whatever work you’ve been doing for them will immediately come to an end? Maybe it’s only me. That’s fine. But I’ve learned to keep a PT job laying around for just such an occasion.
Anyway, I’ve since moved out of Portland, where I had the job, and returned to live with my parents out in the gorgeous Maine countryside. I have a beautiful loft apartment all to myself, and after 30 years it feels good to be with my folks again. It feels right.
Portland turned out not to be the cool town everybody told me it was, since it’s caving (as so many neat places do) to high-rise development, the tourist trade, astronomical rents, an influx of corporate headquarters with massive work forces (omg, the parking!), and a general cleansing of all its character and rough edges. The fishermen and artists are all moving out, fed up with the price and the seeping, plain-vanilla flavor that’s slowly inundating a once-vibrant, edgy community.
So between that, the dreadful management of the health food store; the impending influx of many thousands of rude, sick tourists from the unrelenting flow of summer/fall ocean liner cruises (“Where do you keep the Nyquil?” Why don’t you have Pepto Bismol?” What kind of store is this!”); and a nearly one-hour commute clogged with said tourists to go 10 miles into Portland, I know I’ve made the right decision. Especially since some of my wonderful new friends I’m leaving behind moaned, “Take me with you!” Honestly, I don’t know why they stay, but that’s a topic for another time. I’ll just say that one of my favorite expressions is, “I do what I want!” It makes people laugh, because it’s so true and brash, but lots of people are like, “Well, what would happen if EVeryone did what they want?” And isn’t that a revolutionary thought. I wonder myself.
So, yeah. Those are all the reasons I’m starting a new job tomorrow, 28 hours a week. It’s a pretty great job that’s a mile away, with an awesome organization, doing something I really like, and that’s very helpful to the world. I’m taking a big pay cut (from $15 an hour to $11.29 an hour) because I know this is what I’m supposed to do next. But I’m just gonna say that I haven’t made $11.29 an hour since I was a summer camp counselor in New Jersey in 1978. If you’re looking for non-corporate, steady work, this is the sort of pay that’s out there right now. College degrees, experience, and professional skills don’t really factor in. My dad, who’s 83 now, often helpfully suggests that I should get a “nice, steady writing job with good benefits.” Sigh. Dad, there aren’t those.
Jesus, this is totally stream of consciousness today.
The reason I named this blog what I did is because, at age 53 and a half, I’ve finally detected a persistent pattern to my life. Namely, that I encounter myself wherever I go. It’s the damndest thing! Wherever I end up–a tent in a thunderstorm under some willows, a broken-down hand car wash station trying to swab the seagull shit off my Mini Cooper, in the reading room of an air-conditioned library on a hot New England day–I’m right there with me. A good friend of mine recently told me that he can’t enjoy the wilderness when he camps, because there he is.
Fortunately, I really like me and prefer hanging out with myself to pretty much anybody else. But what if I didn’t? Damn, that would be just miserable. I can’t even imagine.
I suppose a psychologist or somebody like that would diagnose me with some DVM thing about avoidance. I move to new places a lot. I try new things, new people, new ideas. Some of those things have stuck and become lifelong endeavors: singing, car racing, fitness, martial arts, my kid, etc. Some I forget or abandon, instantly bored or turned off. I usually know what I’m doing, but not always. (Guitar lessons, ack! I will play guitar!)
You know what, though? I’m not avoiding anything. I’m encountering everything I can get my hands on, including–most important–myself. What is this thing? How does it work? How do I master it? What does it want? Those are the answers I’m looking for.
And that’s why I’m starting a new job tomorrow. Because safety and security (both myths: witness the fact that someday, or later today (!), you’ll die and lose all your stuff) don’t matter much to me. As long as I can pay my few bills and I have enough for an AirBnB by a river every now and then, I’m perfectly content.
Adventure, learning, joy, and contributing are what get me to do things–what keep me going and inspired.
Yeah, the annoyance of starting over is absolutely worth it!
UPDATE: Just came back from my fourth AA meeting ever. Six weeks sober, which is twice my usual quitting length. I love the brave people in this group. There’s this one guy in there, a native Mainer tradesman who fights everyday not to beat someone up. He never looks up and talks mostly into his coffee cup, but he’s my favorite. If that guy can do it, I can. Anyway, speaking of irritated.