Second round OR Where I thought I’d be at age 30

I feel strange in this city today. Out of sorts and out of place. It’s a Tuesday, and what I believe will be, the last Tuesday of my self-proclaimed, “sabbatical.” One of the last few days of freedom before re-entering the workforce and re-joining working-class America. It is also five short days before my birthday. The. Big. Three. Zero.

Thirty is the new forty. It’s the age that scares the pants off my peers, the age by which I assumed, at a much younger, more naïve age, that I would have amounted to something; or, in the least, have something to show by some generally accepted measure of success (a house, a spouse, a career, and so on and so forth). I do not have these things.

Instead, I have these: a car, a dog, a girlfriend, a rental apartment and a significant amount of debt. I do not have a job, though I have been offered one. And if I play my cards right at 3:15 today, I’ll have two to choose from, which, being a fresh transplant to a very new place, feels like a lucky strike.

Still, even in imagining myself a few months out in either one of these prospective positions, I am not where, years ago, I imagined I would be.  I am not a clinical psychologist, a few years out of graduate school, saving minds and making bank. I am not married with a child or a bun in the oven. I am, in fact, nearly 30 and none of these things. I’m a masters-level, home practitioner of yoga, who is about to accept one of two jobs for less than/equal to $13 an hour. (To bring perspective, I made just under $12/hour at my last job pre-grad school. For most of the last 3 years, I made close to $18.) These are all numbers of course. They are meaningless symbols against which I measure my accomplishments and myself. Or, in the least, they are the catalyst by which I ask myself what the hell is I’ve been doing for the last ten years.

Money is irrelevant to happiness. I do know this, even as I fight against this notion and suffocate under the blanket of The American Dream.  I farmed for six months and didn’t miss the take-away. We don’t need much, really. Food, shelter, love, activity. Some means by which to feel engaged, inspired, educated. We all adjust our spending to our income. We all yearn for more until we have it and ultimately find that we’re still not satisfied. This is not the end that I move toward. This is never, and has never been, my intention.

And. Still. Even without imagined second job offer I stand on what I feel is a great precipice between what my heart craves and what my practical self desires. The latter lures me in with carefree, corporate work, a nametag with a smile and the promise to never be challenged. The former is this: my first opportunity to finally get paid to do what I love. To fight against a corrupt system, to reach out, to share opportunity, and to potentially change lives.

This prospect scares me. It is not what I imagined and only what I’ve hoped for, with a steady gaze and an unwavering patience. It assures growth and hard work and utter chaos. It is the kind of work that beckons my soul and assures nothing but insanity and hard-earned intrinsic reward.

And in this awkward ramble saturated with vagueness, I ask you to wish me luck. It’s time for a second interview.

Still kicking.

I’ve been looking at the date all day and yet somehow it just sunk in that today is one month post-departure. One month from family and friends and all that once was familiar. All that is the Midwest, and most certainly, Ann Arbor.

It has been nearly three weeks since my last post; the last leg of my ongoing efforts at writing, otherwise known as Adventures in Shared Thought. I am tired after a long day of nothing in particular; exhausted from the woes of job hunting, a few lengthy dog walks, and a stubborn cold that keeps me (and, of course, the darling girlfriend) awake most of the night.

It’s not as if the day-to-day here isn’t worth writing about. This great city surely beckons us newcomers, teasing with adventures un-had and novelties unexplored. There is a never-ending supply of roads to navigate, people to gaze upon, and Craigslist ads to peruse. There are trees to lie under, blossoms to inhale, and sun rays to catch. When it rains, as it sometimes does here, there are gray skies to scowl at and heavy mists to absorb, the latter almost always unwillingly and with an air of disappointment.

This sabbatical of mine is far from unpleasant, but it does not come without its burdens.

My one-month-and-counting “vacation” is not a carefree stick of Wrigley chewing gum. It’s rather like a tough, old beast of a Chicklet. Like some rock that’s been lost in your mother’s purse for god-knows-how-long and has finally, almost mythically, resurfaced. You chew on it for a second and then wonder why the hell you put it in your mouth.

But wait! I’m not spitting this out just yet. I can’t. I’m committed to this hard-to-chew gum and I’m going to suffer through it and suck every ounce of flavor out of it, so be it.

In other words (?), I can’t deny that I chose this adventure. With the help of one fantastic lover and friend, I carved this out a block of feared complacency and mild discontent. I lathered it up with a thick layer of hope and set it out for The Universe to take a gander at, for her to see in all of its beauty and imperfection.

I have to remind myself of certain things as I sit in this space, thinking about how I haven’t had a paycheck in weeks and how I don’t know when I’ll have another. I smack myself back into the present moment, where I’m in a new, fantastic place with a woman I love and a handful of wonderful friends who will never Seattle chill me. I am surrounded by opportunities for growth and I sit amidst some of the fiercest natural beauty I’ve ever seen.  I have my yoga, my able-body, and dozens of beloveds sending tiny waves of love and energy through the atmosphere, even as I take deep breaths followed by worry-laden sighs.

All of this, to say, I’m still here. I’m still kicking.