Most people think of me as fairly laid back and tolerant. For the most part, I am. But what they often don’t see is that I’ve spent my entire life fighting, and what appears as calm is more often mental exhaustion.
Over the years, I fought for love and affection. I fought for respect. I fought for opportunities that weren’t really meant for me. I fought for a better life than the one I knew in adolescence. I fought to stay afloat financially. I fought for truth, when people didn’t want to hear it. I fought for everything I have and everything I am. Nothing I have was handed to me.
Imagine running a mental marathon for 40 years. That’s what it’s been like, and I was exhausted. Need for escape from the fight had reached urgency.
You see, the men in my family have never lived very long. My father died in his late 50s, before I even turned 35. His father died before my father reached 30. My father spent his entire life fighting—mostly personal demons and then a real demon in a blood disorder. He never seemed to get a chance to live or work on the core of his existence (family life or a career), but he also wasted a lot of energy (and money) numbing the fight with Miller Lite. Sometimes I feel like I’m following too closely in his footsteps, even though I don’t avoid life by drinking. But either way, it was looking like I’d be dead before I really got to live.
So it was time to reevaluate everything, to change my route a bit and to find some sanity. I didn’t realize I had actually been looking for an even bigger fight: a job in the hustle and bustle of New York or Philadelphia. Neither city was very nice to me in the job hunt. I interviewed for two jobs in three years. One of them would have paid less than I make in Delaware, so the biggest fight there would have been avoiding homelessness, which of course means I’d have neglected my career anyway! The other job was in the Bronx. I’d have loved the job, but I’d still be commuting as much if not more than I am now. Again, getting to work would have been as hard as the work itself. Philadelphia publishers just ignored me. I can only speculate that my education level was too high for the low-level jobs that my lack of experience warranted.
Then, almost in a sequence of luck, the precise job I wanted back when I decided to get my master’s in publishing appeared in Vermont, perhaps the polar opposite of New York City. Despite knowing very little about the area, I applied, interviewed, and was offered the position within about two weeks. So, in just over one week, I will be living and working in a small village of about 2,000 people. No Target. No 6-lane suburban highways. No plethora of grocery stores from which to choose. No fighting neighbors for a parking spot or avoiding the dog poop they leave behind. No need for a $400 annual parking permit at work or the alternative of standing in the rain for a bus.
Life will be a bit simpler, so I can reserve most of my “fight” for doing a great job and working for career and personal growth. That’s how it should be!
I also won’t have to commute 30 to 45 minutes each way as I do now. Instead, I will walk about 1/2 mile to work…or to the grocery store, the Post Office, or drug store. So perhaps in my spare time, I can finally write a little. Although, who knows, since the hiking and mountain biking are abundant! I certainly plan to work on my photography and make it worth something. And I’ll do all those things without a lot of fighting.
This isn’t to say everything will be effortless. The move will be brutal, and will cost money that I don’t really have. Learning how to live in a completely new place is never easy, either. But I’ve done it before, and even at 40, I still have the Irish gypsy genes my father must have passed on to me. I’m flexible, adaptable, and actually love change. I thrive on it. I relish in it! (Life without change isn’t really life.)
So, the fight is mostly over, but the journey continues. Hello, Vermont! Pleasure to meet you!