Thursday, June 26, 2014
Not too many weeks ago a friend called to tell me he was quitting his job and that I should apply. Of course, like you, I wondered why I should apply to a job my friend didn't seem to want anymore. He gave me a solid explanation and told me I was a much better fit than he. I applied.
The job is in St. Louis. It's an archaeology lab position. The job pays 64% more than what I make at Lincoln. Don't worry, Lincoln is number 2 in the nation in shittiest pay, so I don't make a lot now. Mindy and I discussed what could possibly happen with Cyrus before I accepted an interview.
I drove there excited, hoping to move and to make all that money. Dreams of paying off my students loans within months clouded my windshield. I could pay off my car. Fuck. I could start paying back my parents for everything they've helped me with. Ever. Cyrus' medical bills could be paid in seconds. For me, it would've been like winning the lottery.
The interview was great. I liked everyone. The job looked like something I could do and would want to do. Hell, the building is about 7 blocks from Busch Stadium. I pictured myself getting off work and walking on over to a game. I'd already bookmarked some beautiful 3 bedroom houses on craigslist. That dark wood and all the light pouring in.
After the interview I drove to Broadway Oyster Bar. Fuck, I thought, I can come here and listen to music. Oh, the music I could hear all the time in a bigger city!
I got onto I-70 and drove off into the sunset. You all know the route. Those rolling hills and creeks. The evening fog rising. And I thought, if I was offered the job, I'd have to make that drive on the weekends to see Cyrus. And, what, I'd see him for a day or two before driving back? Back to a huge, beautiful, empty house. Back to a city where I'd know just a few people. In my 20s, the thought of being reborn in a new place was utterly intoxicating, but now, at 34, it just seems exhausting.
I picked up Cyrus from Speech Therapy where Mindy was. She asked how it went. "I think they like me," I said.
After Cyrus went to sleep that night, I cried. I cried so hard thinking about missing nearly a year of his life (until Mindy could move to St. Louis, too). I cried about leaving my rugby team. They're not just a team. They are my friends. They've been my support system for 7 years. Through Cyrus' birth. And our divorce. What would I do in St. Louis...roll around in a pile of money? I've been writing, too, for the first time in years. I'm enjoying becoming myself again. I just got sane. Cyrus has just started using the toilet and eating more.
I called my mom crying; that's not something I really do. The thought of moving, of leaving behind the cute little house I rent beside the horses. No. I couldn't do it. If they offered.
Later that night Cyrus woke up and came into my room. I took him back to his bed because he was still mostly asleep. I tucked him in and kissed him on the cheek. "I love you, Mom," he said. "Meow." I held my tears when I said, "I love you, too, Baby Kitty."
When the call about the job came a few days later, I told the boss, "I politely decline." I told her why because we'd discussed Cyrus during the interview. She was very understanding and said that I'd obviously made a lot of good decisions in my life and that this was just one more. Family is number one, she said.
So, here I am, still bitterly employed at a job where no one knows I exist. Actually, my students seem to be the only ones who care about me or my career. And I'll have to keep reminding myself that my job is not my life. My job gives me just enough money to eat and pay my pills.
I've learned some very important things already this summer:
1. Working at Lincoln is like being in an abusive relationship with someone who strives to make you feel like there's no one else out there who can ever love you. That one night stand with another employer was enough to show me that there's so much more out there for me.
2. I'm still a writer
3. Cyrus's happiness is my priority
4. (but my own is very important, too)