lyrics from a mid-80s perfume commercial. a woman singing about how she can do it all. corny and apropos, all at once.
independence has been on my mind, a lot. since i moved from memphis, my independence has been put on hold. a fact that suffuses my now-bulbous little self with an overwhelming feeling of yuck. while i'm glad to have help, i have never needed this much help since i was a kid. not a great feeling for a 35-yr-old woman, and one who has always relished her independence... now see, there i go feeling slightly uncomfortable upon saying that. i always do. because, for a yet-to-be-unearthed reason, i carry guilt about having parents who have helped me along the way...and i'll be darned, as soon as i finished that sentence my brain unearthed the reason: if i haven't suffered sufficiently to achieve something, then i feel i don't deserve to have it. so, owning my independence usually requires a bit of mental gymnastics. eventually i remind myself that while my parents have done what all parents want to do (which is to help, according to my mom) they have not, in fact, been the ones to do the legwork that got me where i've gotten. that was me. little 'ol me. i did the talking, the writing, the networking, the work. after quitting college then waiting tables and answering phones at a doctor's office for a few years, i moved to miami and folded expensive jeans in a retail shop owned by juan, who fired me for not keeping the store tidy. THE HORROR. look, i'd never use the "he just didn't like me" excuse for being fired, bc i think it's lame, but in this case it simply has to be true, bc one thing i could never be accused of is being untidy. anyhow, before and after my unfounded firing, i interned at a modeling agency for free and within 2 months was hired full time as an agent's assistant. i think i made 20 grand; not too shabby for 1998 and my first job in the professional world. about 8 months later i was promoted to new york city, which only lasted a few months. then i went back to college, where i worked at a coffee shop for extra cash -- bc those student loans i'll be paying off after i'm dead didn't cut it -- and i graduated with honors. and in memphis i worked my way up...well, more like out and around and behind and beneath...from my first job in advertising to my dream of freelancing. around two months before i moved, i was finally making a stable income as a freelancer -- turns out that phrase is not oxymoronic. what a tickly-good feeling. like a first kiss, except i didn't have to wonder when the next one would be. with my newfound steady paycheck, i'd no longer have to bargain shop for toilet paper at the dollar store. no more checking unit prices for me. i'd grab that quilted northern and not think twice.
after moving from memphis to wv, financial bliss died a sudden death. i lost my livelihood. my livelihood. i never even knew i had one. i enjoyed my work; therefore, if i didn't hate my work, then could i actually consider it work? and if i couldn't consider it work, then how could i claim to have a livelihood? these are the trips my brain takes me on. so today -- sometime between drinking that sickening orange glucose cola at 8:46 am and being stabbed with the 4th needle at 11:45 am -- i realized why this move was (is) such a big deal: i've spent a good 12 yrs trying to find the most "me" i could find in a career and get to a place of stability (well, actually, i always avoided stability like gas-station coffee, but i was finally getting comfy with the idea), and just when i had gotten oh-so-close: bomb, dropped. time to pack it up and move it out, little sister. big brother is coming with the uhaul on a friday; you'll be back in wv by sunday. or tuesday, as it turned out. after all, what kind of finale would it be without my brother's back going out and three more family members driving 12 hrs from wv to the rescue? so, on a tuesday night in july, after the monday night should've-been-three-but-turned-into-seven-hour-trip from memphis to nashville, i arrived at my parents' house with not two but three dogs and a belly full of first grandchild. what i left behind...livelihood, friends, solace, places to eat and walk and hang out...has become my shadow ever since. following me even on the many sunless, rainy days in clarksburg.
i don't harbor secret wishes to run backwards, toward memphis and everything this move took from me. not at all. i do wonder what could've happened had i stayed. but i wonder about all sorts of things. mostly, and fairly impatiently, i await the return of my independence. the baby just bunched up on the right side of my belly. that makes two of us.