At 9:45 this morning, with two boxes and 16 1/2 years of memories, I drove away from the college for the last time. I didn’t look back because I do not regret driving away. The details, the how’s and why’s and what-for’s, I’ve decided are irrelevant to this story. I hope you will respect this irrelevancy and refrain from asking those questions, because I drove away not full of sadness but full hope, a little scared, but eager for what is next.
So, what’s next? I haven’t a single solitary clue! The past 16 years have flown by in the blink of an eye, I didn’t take the time to figure out what was going to come next because I was always worrying about the right now. What was the crisis of the day, which fire needed to be put out first. There was never time to think about the future because I was so busy dealing with the present. The seasons flew by, one after the other, leaving me feeling like I barely had a minute to experience them and then they were gone. Spring would poke in, with the grass starting to green up and the bulbs erupting through frosty ground, but I barely had a minute to mark the first robins of the season singing in the trees because I was busy. And then BAM! It was summer.
Summer, hot, too hot to plant the garden vegetables I didn’t make time to plant in spring. But we would baby the tomato plants along, watering and pruning and tying until all hours, because summer was busy at work and there was never enough time in the evening. There was never a summer vacation, rarely enough time to just listen to the crickets at night and watch the sunset, holding hands with Carli in front of a little bonfire. And then BAM! It was Fall.
Fall comes crashing in, colliding with Summer. It’s still hot, but the year is slipping away. The garden harvest accomplished in fits and spurts, the pressure canner running at 4:30am so we wouldn’t lose the green beans that were picked the night before, hunched over the rows, each row seeming like it was longer than it was the day before. Carli had to do most of the work then since it was late registration at work, I was busy. And then BAM! It was Winter.
Cold, windy, not much work we could do outside, so Carli is stuck inside, often by herself because it was spring registration at work, and I was busy. The holidays would leave us frenzied and exhausted, always thankful for the one day of the year we might be able to have everyone over for dinner at the same time. And then BAM! 16 years and 7 months are gone by, and all of sudden I have been given the most unexpected, precious gift I could ever imagine.
Time. I have been given time. I’ve been given the opportunity to start again. BAM!
For the next little while I am going to use this gift, this time, to spend reflecting on how I want the next 16 years to go. But before I can make that decision, I have to figure out what is important to me. What do I truly value, and what am I willing to do in order to be true to my values? When I’m ready to move on to the next chapter of my career, what am I going to demand from my employer? Do I even want another employer? Maybe I should start my own business, or go into consulting, or maybe run for office!! Who knows!! There are so many things to think about, and so many possibilities. Carli and I will be fine, as long as we are together.
I am going to use some of this time to take care of myself, which I am learning is not a selfish act. Maybe I’ll spend an entire day or two watching Criminal Minds or The West Wing or Madam Secretary or The Great British Baking Show, and I won’t consider it time wasted. Maybe I will paint the front room. I know I’ll purge my closet and dresser of clothes I no longer need or want! I will definitely quilt.
I am looking forward to cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner for Carli. Cuddling with the dogs for more than 4 minutes before bedtime. I am looking forward to all the ordinary things I never made time for, never paid attention to until it was too late. I’ll have to go back to work before too long, after all, bills still have to be paid and our dogs are accustomed to a certain lifestyle. I would hate to disappoint them. But in the meantime…….I will quilt. Hit me up with ideas; I have a bunch of sewing machines and time on my hands.
By the way, the picture at the top of the post is of my first unemployment quilt. The name of the material collection is Girl Power. Watch out world, give me minute, I’ll be back.