There have been many times in my life when I wished I didn't have to work so I could call my day my own. Do anything I wanted. Call the shots and set my own agenda. Usually the desire for freedom is in direct proportion to the quality of the job; the more I hated it, the more I wanted out. Not a surprising feeling, really.
I've been among the working class since I was 13. My first job was in the gift shop of the YWCA. My mother was President for several years. I loved the Y. The swimming, the community. I felt very grown-up having a job. Very responsible. When it came time to start taking driving lessons, what we called "behind-the-wheel" in Minnesota, I was a working veteran and got a job at Burger King at 14. I lied and told them I was 15 so I could. My first duty was standing behind the broiler and setting the frozen hamburger patty on the grill. Apparently I did that so well they promoted me to actually making the burgers! Eventually I worked at the front counter taking orders. Score! As soon as I made enough to pay for my course, I quit. I hated the smell, the polyester uniforms and the fact that all my friends were enjoying their summer while I worked.
During high school I worked on and off at the Minnesota Historical Society where my mother was Chief Librarian. Despite these jobs, my time was really my own and I only worked to buy something extra that my mother wanted me to earn the money for. Smart woman.
My real working life started, ironically, while I was in college. Maybe not so ironical for those of my generation. Certainly not for the students at my school. Just about everyone had some kind of job after classes or on the weekend. I had at least two. School offered work-study jobs and of course, I waitressed at a restaurant a block from my dorm. That job opened a whole new kettle of fish in my life, but that's another story. I felt independant and wise and grown-up. Living on my own, in a city only I knew, coming and going as I pleased and working hard for every dime.
Since then many, many years have passed and I prided myself on always working. Never leaving a job without one ready to go to. Moving up and if I couldn't move up, holding on to my patience knowing my break would come soon. When my two year campaign to get a coveted job in New York finally paid off, I packed up my whole life and moved east. After the first 6 months I knew in my heart it wasn't what I hoped it would be, but I held on. I had moved to a city where I knew no one and knew nothing about. Everything was different from my beloved midwest and if I wanted to leave this job, I would have to harness not only my patience, but my pride. Unfortunately my employers proved to be as horrible as I suspected and after one unforgivable act, I quit the next day.
One day notice. I had NEVER done anything like that. Ever. But I couldn't stay. Someday I will tell that story too.
After a few weeks of looking I was lucky enough to find a job. Not my ideal, but it lead to another and then another and while my personal life fell apart, my working life came together. Always irony....
Today my unemployment is due to happier circumstances. My boyfriend was given a much deserved promotion and we moved to Western New York, close to his hometown and all his family and friends. Sadly I left a job I loved, but this move was one we had been looking forward to.
The downside is I am not working. While the timing was perfect for Nick, it couldn't have been worse for me. Our economy is so bad and unemployment is unspeakable. And here I am where I never thought I would ever be: unemployed.
At first I didn't mind so much. We rented a house. I was ecstatic. I hadn't lived in a house in years and having puppies, we now have a backyard. No one below us. No one above us. And then there are my designer fingers itching to rip off wall paper and tear up carpet and paint walls.
My garden project is going to actually come to being. But.....
I'm losing it. My motivation. Any motivation to do anything. Even wash the dishes. I haven't cooked anything real since we moved. I'm tired of laundry, I'm sick of cleaning. I have a new vacuum that's still in the box. I look out my window to the backyard, knowing how much work I have to do if I want that garden and yard I've drawn up. But I don't go out. And I can't blame it on the excessive heat. Some days are beautiful and cool and the sun is lovely. Instead I sit at my computer and play games on Facebook. Read articles online about stupid celebrities and watch television, which I used to never do during the day. I don't shower as often and haven't done my hair or worn my contacts for days.
I've sent out resumes by the dozens. I applied at a temp service and they have yet to call me for anything. And the topper: the state is holding up my unemployment. Actually I hadn't even thought about filing a claim until Nick mentioned it. Suddenly it hit me; I'm unemployed. I've come to a town, yet again, where I know no one and know nothing about.
Its been two months. I know for some its been so much longer. Many people are marking a year, two years. But all I know is me. I was climbing the walls a few weeks ago. Now I don't even want to climb the stairs. This freedom from having to punch a clock is turning into a nightmare. Without a place to go, people to interact with, a purpose, I seem to be unable to find one on my own. I know a part of my apathy is because I have no money. None. Sure, I have Nick to buy the essentials and I am more than grateful. But my own self-worth is rock bottom. I can't contribute in that way and it's messing with my head. And there's no one to talk to. I envy people who groan about having to go back to work after the weekend. But who would understand that?
I used to dream of having the time to do what I wanted, when I wanted to, but with that came the reality of working for the money to be able to do those things. Now I have the time but no money and my motivation for even the simplest task is all but gone. This week with Nick out of town, even the spark I would get knowing he's coming home soon is gone. Being rejected for the writing job was more defeating than anyone can know. I have a list of jobs to send my resume to and I haven't done it.