Recently I had to break it off with a former friend who I felt understood me quite well and understood my philosophy on things such as this one. Even while knowing this, he still was the type of friend who contacted me when he needed me around but when I needed someone to lean on for emotional support. Lucky for me, I have such a good support system of friends here and everywhere that it was a rather simple decision when he contacted me again looking to reconcile the broken friendship. While it was an obvious decision, it was not an easy one. And I sure hope to God I don't have to do that with anyone again.
But it isn't as simple as that. Like I said, these kinds of matters are a two-way street. And life is full of people who are there for you when it's easy and not there for you when times are tough. I don't think I'm a high-maintenance person; does this fall into "girl be crazy" or "sense of common decency"? I am not sure anymore.
I've hit an interesting crossroads in my life where I have to make a big girl decision. Many of my past big girl decisions of years ago have been very reactive as opposed to proactive; something terrible would happen to me and I'd have to do something in a pinch. Thanks to sheer luck and determination, I'd make it through to an epic endgame, ready to tackle my next project.
I lost my job a few weeks ago in mass layoffs as a result of the government shutdown totaling my industry. I loved my job, but the role I was filling in my industry wasn't a place I wanted to stay forever. It paid well, but more importantly, it gave me the chance to really learn an industry I was a total geek about. There are so many things I like, and I really liked working in this specific area of finance. I miss my coworkers and my job, but at the end of the day, pieces of me became very complacent as to my approach to life. I really started to understand what it meant to have a good work-life balance, but I missed that rush and adrenaline of working in a super challenging role.
I should be more bummed than I am but the fact of the matter is, opportunity is everywhere. I'm comfortable in taking a few weeks to really hunt those opportunities down rather than piss-broke and freaking out over finding a job immediately, so that's nice. I have a nice skillset that is a balance of finance, customer service, and retail from many, many years of seeking out things I've liked and taking risks. I've already found half a dozen jobs in my industry I could apply for. The issue is that many of them are in New York. New York is such an easy move for me - I could live within commuting distance of the city for free in a home my parents bought in North Jersey for the sole purpose of using it as an investment for myself and my sister - and I am very familiar with it. I'm not sure if I want familiar, though.
I want to take a risk, I want something real. I want to go somewhere that I think I can root, settle down, and see myself hanging out there for the next few years. Not sure if that future will involve someone else or having a family or will continue on with the status quo of life in Boston, but I think I want to throw my hands up in the air and do something crazy. I mean, this is the time to do it, right?
I have so many friends in Seattle, and I'm thinking about going there. Honestly, it feels right. I want it to be for the right reasons, though. And I think there are a few reasons that are unclear to me why I'm even putting them into consideration. I really like to minimize uncertainty when wrangling with big life decisions.
I know what I love and I need to figure out how to integrate that into the next direction life takes me.
...you'd think I'd have learned my lesson by now, after all these years. :P
Meanwhile, a semi-related placeholder.
Taking a mental health day to clean and do laundry and not feeling bad about it.
This is not something I would have done even a year ago. Work-life balance is awesome. :D
It's not the worst problem to have, and it sure as hell makes life more interesting, but it makes it really hard to develop new bonds with new people who basically like exactly one-third of my persona. I don't want to have to apologize to people who see me as an uber-nerd about my ridiculous love of sports, or my geeky friends about my trendy/hip fashion sense and obsession with makeup, or my bro friends as to why I run teams for Pokemon-themed barcrawls while cosplaying as a Hoppip.
I still wouldn't change a thing, but it is hard making meaningful relationships with people from scratch with this kind of cross to bear. It's probably why the urge to relocate to where close pools of friends that understand my quirks is very strong.
Tonight, after a surprise early-release from work and a fabulous dinner with former coworkers of years past, I headed back towards home from downtown Boston by way of Park Street. It was quiet and muggy in the underground station, and by the lack of people standing around, I correctly guessed that I had just missed my train. A beautiful, familiar tune began to fill the air. The college-aged musician producing it was sitting on the floor next to a collection cube with a paper sign. "Textbooks: $479", it read. I was his only audience for the duration of the song, and I nodded along in melodic familiarity.
When he finished, I clapped. He smiled. "That was great. What is the name of that song?" I asked.
"Spanish Romance," he replied.
"I've never known the name of that song my entire life. Thank you for that. What are you going to school for?" I inquired.
"Political science," he said. I reached into my pocket and pulled out $7 to add to his cube. $472 to go for next semester.
I began to think about her. She once was a bright-eyed, civics-minded student. She did it much to the chagrin of our extended family, with legitimate worries on how her studies in government would pay the bills. They did make her a living. She proved them wrong.
As a teenager, she decided she wanted to learn guitar. Inheriting a vintage Yamaha on permanent loan from our aunt, she took a few lessons and proceeded to self-teach her way to competence. As she was fumbling through fundamentals, she loved to play the beginning of Spanish Romance frequently. I do not think she ever finished learning it, though. There were too many tunes to play, and those eventually turned into many beautiful tunes she wrote. I would always rap loudly on the wall that connected our rooms when I heard certain songs being played for the umpteenth time, but I could never do it when she played Spanish Romance. I always had a soft spot in my heart for that song, even though she or my aunt would never finish it for whatever reason. I only realized I had never heard the end of the song when I ran into the buskers at Park Street or Harvard Square, playing the dulcet resolution of the major-tonal second section, and the recapitulation of the minor-tonal first section. I had been left in the dark past the beginning of the song for years.
I turned to the young busker. "Keep doing what you're doing," I said. "You're great at it, and it sure as hell beats a more normal way to earn money for books." He thanked me, and asked me if I had anything in particular I wanted to hear. I shook my head, and he went through a repertoire of classical guitar and popular rock songs until my train arrived.
She is going back to school in a few weeks too, for another graduate degree after winning another prestigious fellowship. We are so proud of her. And just last weekend, in Riverside Park, the love of her life gave her what could be called her second-most important ring, set with a beautiful, character-filled black diamond. Things will never be the same again, but at the same time, they will only be better. I can be assured of that by the fact that her spark of never-ending curiosity is still bright, so bright that it has given her soulmate the same inspiration and fervor for life that she has. They are a fantastic pair.
I don't know if she'll ever finish Spanish Romance, because she is moving on to bigger, more important things, but perhaps maybe I will.