One week left until Moving Day. One week left at the office, with a company that I’ve belonged to for the last eleven years. One week left until we pile all of our worldly possessions into a small U-haul, coax three unsuspecting dogs into the backseat of the car, and hit the road for a Great American Adventure.
Is this my mid-life crisis? Very possibly. But I’m tired of waiting for my life to start. I’ve always done what I was supposed to do. I worked during high school, went straight to college (while also working), graduated into the entry-level workforce, earned my MBA on the weekends, developed various stress-affected illnesses (ulcers, colitis, anxiety, depression, huzzah!), and bought into a housing market that immediately collapsed. Good times under capitalism, right? But I’ve realized that I’ve never belonged to myself, never taken the time to see who I really am. I was too busy selling myself to make ends meet, kept awake at night by compulsive list-making and constant review of all the responsibilities weighing on my shoulders – many of them completely fabricated and existing entirely to make rich corporate clients richer. Meanwhile, I’m checking my bank balance to make sure that that decadent twenty dollars spent on takeout didn’t break us.
True, it’s a little more potent for me because I ended up in a middle management at a bank. Commercial Banking, no less. Millions of dollars go whizzing across my screen every day and sometimes it all seems so abstract that I want to laugh aloud at my desk. Meaningless numbers. What is humanity even doing to itself?
But I’m not fleeing forever. At most, I’m hoping to take a few months to step back, get healthy, and for once give my full focus to work that I’m passionate about. I have an amazing opportunity to write something that people might actually read, to work with some amazing professionals, and get real feedback. For once, writing isn’t something to be done in the wee hours, a fetishized and guilt-inducing “hobby” that has to wait until the “real” work of the day is done. I can wake up in the morning and follow my inspiration, rather than jotting down a few notes while I shower and commute, hoping that it’s still there come five o’clock. (It usually isn’t.) I’m far too restless and neurotic to leave the workforce entirely, but I hope to find something in my new home state where I can affect real change and help real people, rather than being a cog in a corporate machine that feels more and more like it’s about to run off the tracks.
I have to give the job credit, though. I may be a far cry from the golden parachutes of the guys at the top, but I have enough flexibility to hopefully fashion myself a patchwork, canvas kite of some sort. I’m in a position where work wants me to stay on remotely for an open-ended amount of time. That’s brilliant, eases the transition for both of us. I’m also cleaning out my 401K. Yeah, yeah, “what about my retirement?” Honestly, at the rate things are going, I doubt I’ll make it that far. Between my health and the general state of the world, I don’t think I’ll be around to work for another thirty years. Sometimes I have doubts that America as we know it will even be around that long. Hopefully, by then, we’ll have made it into something even better. And maybe I can get myself to a place where living a for good long time doesn't sound so exhausting.
Maybe adulthood is just taking responsibility for the world. The systems that are in place don’t seem to be doing a very good job and, if we can affect the best change within our local communities, I want to live in a place that’s looking forward. I want equality and sanctuary cities. I want socialized medicine and natural alternatives to proliferating prescriptions. I also want to spend holidays with my damn family. Travel is so expensive and days off from work are so rare that I haven’t spent time with my mother and sister in years. I haven’t seen my best friend from high school – hands down one of the coolest people that I’ve ever known – in fifteen years. She lives in Oregon, not too far from one of my other all-time-favorite humans. There are so many others, too – people from school and people who I’ve come to know online but never met in person. They all live in the Pacific Northwest. Apparently, it’s the place to be. And I wanna be there, too.
I didn’t mean this to be a list of complaints. I know I’m luckier than most and I’m extremely grateful for the gradual transition option. Just a bit of scene-setting, really, some perspective on just how terrifying/exciting/terrifying this adventure feels. We’re standing at the edge and I can’t wait to jump!
I’m also nerding out on the whole great-American-tradition aspect of the journey. Bobby and I are of the Oregon Trail generation. We’ve literally been preparing for this since we were children. Only part of our journey falls on the actual trail (of course, I looked), but we’re going to see some gorgeous and varied parts of the country. Richmond to St. Louis, St. Louis to Denver, the mountains of Colorado into the salt flats of Salt Lake City, the great big nothing of northern Nevada, then a bit of California before we pass into Oregon and ride the Five home.
And I get to do all of this with my amazing life partner and our pack of fuzzy children. True, Apollo is going to be miserable after five days away from his spot on the couch (my dog’s anxiety rivals my own) and Trevor will likely get carsick in my lap at some point, but at least Cookie will be having a good time co-piloting the U-haul with Daddy. My road-trip-loving sister will also be joining us for the Richmond-to-Denver portion of the journey. I’m betting Bobby’s happy he’ll be in the other vehicle, out of earshot of the Great Midwestern Sisterly Sing-Along.
What with the adventure and the sudden uptick in free time, I hope to keep up with this blog. Or at least post a whole lotta road trip puppy pics. “To infinity and beyond!”