Friday marked my first day of unemployment, my first day as a "stay at home girlfriend." A little history, a road map to this interesting turn of events, if you will:
3 years ago, a broken heart (figurative and literal - I got a tattoo on my neck for god's sake) made me run away from Huntington, WV, my friends, my family, and the life I'd been planning on having - to New York City. I was going to live with my uncle, find a job and get some life experience, and then reassess my life and make a new plan. I got the job in less than a month - my uncle's best friend's small start-up company was looking for another admin. Things were going well - interesting job working for a hospitality purchasing company, living in New York City, discovering Battlestar Galactica...it seemed like I'd made the right choice. Within a few months, though, I began to feel like my job wasn't worth all the stress it caused, not for as little money as they paid me; but what did I know, this was my first adult job. Living with my uncle wasn't always great either, so I decided I needed to move out, DESPITE the fact that I made very little money, and I'd barely been able to make any significant contributions to my savings account by living rent-free with him. It seems now as if a pattern were emerging - just get up and leave if things weren't going your way. I have ALWAYS understood the value of a dollar, however, and it didn't go as far in NYC as it did in WV, so as much as I wanted to at the time, I did not quit my job. I moved into an apartment in Brooklyn with a girl I barely knew, and as most people find out sooner or later, I wasn't much suited for having a roommate. We simply did not have enough in common, lifestyle-wise, to sustain the relationship. So when our 6 month lease was up, even though the landlord tried to LOWER our rent in an attempt to keep us, I moved back in with my uncle.
This made it almost a year I'd been in NYC. By my mother's planning, I should be ready to move back to WV; should have been over the broken heart, should have saved up some money, should be packing my things into a U-Haul for Huntington, not just back over the Pulaski Bridge to Astoria. But for whatever reasons, I wasn't ready. Wasn't over the broken heart, as every time I went home for a long weekend or a holiday I reverted right back to the idiot getting a broken heart tattooed on her neck, crying over something that never even happened. Hadn't saved up any money, because the cost of living in NYC is absurd, and I had accepted the position at a lower salary than I should have, and had not gotten a raise. So I thought "No, I'll stay here for another 6 months or so, rent-free again and REALLY save up money so that I can go back to WV and get back to the life I had been planning - living in a small town, a great group of girl friends constantly by my side, taking care of my mother, get some sort of job that paid well enough, meet some sort of guy that seemed nice enough, get married, have kids, do the normal "growing up" thing.
Then I met John. And only a few months into our dating, work sent me to Dubai for three months. I think absence really did make the heart grow fonder in that situation. And when I came home, we were in love, and I had nowhere to live - my uncle had moved in with his boyfriend, and I was "crashing" with John until I found something. Two girls I knew from home were moving to NYC, and we thought about moving in together. When I mentioned it to John, he said "Why don't we get a bigger apartment together?" So we found a two bedroom in Astoria, Queens and for the past year plus we've been living together, and it’s absolutely fantastic.
In stark contrast to how happy I was in my relationship - I hated everything else about my life. I HATE living in NYC. I was happy in WV. I missed my friends, I missed my car, I could not come to grips with how expensive things are, and there are too many unpleasant smells and sounds assaulting you on a daily basis. I also hated my job. While I was in Dubai, they cut our pay ten percent – since I was already making nothing, I was now making ten percent LESS of nothing. And working twice as hard. While I know that no job is perfect, and the economy isn’t great right now, working three people’s jobs at a mismanaged firm where I saw no benefit to the effort I was putting in was turning me into a different person. I put on 40 pounds, my hair starting graying at 26, and I was so stressed I couldn’t find any joy in anything. And I was MEAN. I found some relief in just being with John, he makes the stress go away like not even alcohol and nicotine can, but I wasn’t always the gracious and appreciative girlfriend to him that I should have been. I wanted to move home to WV, but there was no way to do that without losing John.
At some point John started saying I should just quit my job. He makes quite a bit of money at his job, and we have low expenses. For months he would say I could quit my job, take some time to relax and figure things out, and then find another job I’d love. He could take care of the rent and utilities, and if I wasn’t out and about I wouldn’t need a lot of cash for food, travel, etc. But I didn’t want to take advantage of him in that way when we’re only still just dating. It seemed wrong. It still seems wrong. But I realize this is his way of trying to make the situation better without my having to leave NYC, and him.
Then the one person who made my day to day life at work okay, my project manager, decided SHE’D had enough at the company as well, and she took another job elsewhere. It was sort of empowering. I feel like half of the people at my company are just waiting for someone else to be the first out the door – then it was kind of “Well, if she can get out, so can I!” So I told my boss I wanted to give him my notice….he said no. My work was definitely not unnoticed, even if it was unappreciated (most notable, FINANCIALLY unappreciated.) He said the company was in a very precarious position, and if I quit, they’d go under. I let him guilt me into staying another month, until the economic situation of the company took another downturn, and my boss told me he needed to let someone go. He’d rather I stay on, and fire someone else, but I took it as the out I needed, and now I sit here, without a job.
I am still flooded with nothing but relief. It’s only been a few days, but still. I worked at that company for three years, and never once did it get better than when I started. It was a slow downhill descent into what was nearing insanity, and I am happy to be free of it. My plan is now to let John take care of me for a little while. To defrag and reboot my outlook on things, to be a better girlfriend to John, a better friend to those people in my life I have let drop by the wayside – to clean this disgustingly ignored apartment, to find joy in my hobbies, to lose a few pounds and to find happiness in whatever comes next. And to hopefully have a few funny stories or insights to share on this blog. Let the battle against dust, clutter and cat hair begin!