In May of 2018 I graduated from college and entered the ‘real world’ feeling like there were endless possibilities laid out before me. Actually, I was terrified of what the future would bring. But I was also excited about my plans to move into my first apartment with my best friend of almost 10 years, I was excited about no longer having to live my life chained to the schedule of the educational system, and I was excited to finally have some free time to work on all the projects I had been waiting to start for so many years. There was a book on my brain that I wanted to write, and just about a dozen more that I wanted to read. I was going to decorate my new place with my BFF, get back to writing music, experiment with cooking, and I was generally going to get my life back in order. I had big plans, and fear of the future wasn’t going to stop me. But the world had other plans for me.
By the end of June, it was obvious my savings weren’t going to cover the cost of rent and utilities for much longer, and I was desperate to get a job. Starting the search was painstakingly tedious, especially since four years of high school, four years of college, and 22 years of life wasn’t enough time for me to figure out exactly what kind of job I actually wanted. On some level, I was able to admit to myself that I wasn’t ready for a full time job. I knew I only needed a part time income supplemented by my savings to afford my living arrangements, plus I knew that working only part time would allow me to keep some of that precious free time for working on all those exciting projects I was going to undertake after graduation. I tried to ignore the fact that it was almost July and I hadn’t even started any of those projects.
So I ended up getting a part time job in retail, making only slightly above minimum wage. I told myself and I even told my boss it would be temporary. It’s just something to do to keep my head above the water financially while I figure out what my true career would be and where I would go from there. I wouldn’t say I was happy in my job, but for the time being, I was content. I looked on the positive side and told myself that I was learning valuable skills, like customer service, marketing, a little bit of business, and even sales tactics. I know that no matter what I do in the future, I will find a way for these skills to be of use, even if it is just knowing to be nice to retail employees because I know the kind of shit they get put through on a daily basis.
Over time, I grew to love my coworkers and I became comfortable at work. So comfortable, in fact, that I had stopped applying for other jobs. There were still days where I felt like I didn’t belong in retail and that my true calling was elsewhere, but I started to ignore those nagging feelings as best I could just so I could get home and relax with my best friend, a glass of wine, and some good laughs. But things changed in the winter time. I thought everything was alright, but I was beginning to have the sneaking suspicion that something was off. I was seeing my best friend less and less often, I was working longer hours which left me with just enough energy to come home and watch tv, plus the days were gray, cold, and dreary while the nights were endless, freezing, and lonely. Soon I was being overcome with sadness, discontent, and longing.
So far, 2019 has been a difficult year to bear. In January, I was miserable, and the only thing keeping me going was looking forward to my upcoming birthday at the beginning of February and the trip to New York City that I was taking to celebrate it. But days before my birthday, my best friend finally showed up again out of the blue, and told me she had been avoiding me. As it turns out, she couldn’t stand living with me anymore. She gave no indication as to what I did that made her want to leave, she even went so far as to tell me that I did nothing wrong, she just got anxiety when she saw my car parked outside our apartment and she didn’t know why. She offered to move out, but I refused. I insisted that I would be the one to move out, since I couldn’t bear being alone any longer. I decided I would move back in with my parents so I’d at least have someone to come home to every day instead of an empty apartment.
Within the week I was completely moved into my childhood home with my mom and dad. I had lost my best friend, my first apartment, and it seemed like I even lost my bright future. I was back in the farmland of the small town I grew up in, feeling like I had actually gone backwards in time and in life to a point where I had never even graduated high school. Reduced to being a child once again, I tried to make the most of my new living arrangements. I’ve always had a great relationship with my family, which I consider to be a blessing. We’ve made open honesty and communication a priority in the household, which some may think is cheesy and unrealistic, like a bad Hallmark channel movie, but knowing I had a reliable support system and unconditional love waiting for me at home cheered me up greatly.
Then my dad got sick.
Seeing him in that hospital bed after the surgery on his corroded artery shook me to my core. He looked so fragile and small, so unlike the sturdy rock of a man that had always been there for me. It occurred to me that he was a lot older than I had allowed myself to believe, and I had to face the fear that I was going to lose him someday. So instead I focused on all the things I wanted to do with him once he recovered. We would go to the movies, and do our computer programming side by side at the dining room table. We would go to renaissance fairs and yard sales and I would help him with his beekeeping like I used to do when I was a kid.