Autumn is on Summer's heels, and my melancholy is way ahead of it.
If you know me well, you know how much I love summer. The heat, the humidity, the sun, the beauty of everything so ALIVE. When summer winds down to a whisper, barely interpretable, I strain to listen. My desire is so great, and yet eventually it wanes into disappointment. And not only because summer is my face basked in sunlight; a quadruple topping sundae; a cooling breeze on perspiring skin. It's also because I look back on my year and ask myself: what have I accomplished?
This past week, I gave up on myself.
And this is where I need to grieve not only the loss of summer, but the loss of self. But, see, it's the right thing to do.
Everyone makes sacrifices at some point in their life. At least, that's my assumption from where I'm standing. My sacrifice was money. I felt strong enough to make a go at my own business, my writing, other idealistic ventures that never floated further than my imagination. I watched my bank account dwindle as I attempted to keep up with a part-time job, two school-age kids (one with "medical issues"), keeping up my house, tending to the lawn, seeing friends and my boyfriend whenever possible, and dealing with a lot of loneliness because it's hard to be home with kids who don't want their mom buzzing about them like an annoying gnat.
Another sacrifice: The loneliness. I could move in with my boyfriend, but the kids would be unhappy in part because they'd be in a new school district. But also because their father moved into a new house in a different area with his girlfriend and her daughter.
Okay, to the main part of this post: this week I did exactly what I said I would never do (and have already done once last year), and I accepted a position making minimum wage at a department store. A store I love shopping at, but let's go back to my bitter disappointment: I will be making minimum wage. I'm a fifty-year-old woman with over seventeen years of sales experience, I've been a writer, an editor, an author...and somehow I've ended up back in the same place I was in at age seventeen.
Seriously. I actually make more money on unemployment than I ever will in this job. But staying on unemployment is not the right thing to do. I have the ability to work. I am mobile. Intelligent (for the most part, ha!). Kids are old enough to handle being left at home all day. And to be honest, I feel as if others snub their nose at my choice to be independent. If I run out of money because I can't get a job, even one that pays so little, I will have no where to go. People will say (and I know at least one who person who has already stressed this), "Don't expect me to help you out when you run out of money." Okay, that may not have been the exact quote, but it's the message I received.
Today, I have cried. I feel sick. I don't have a problem with working. Lord knows I work my butt off here at home in part because I like being busy and I'm not much of a relaxer. But it's my self-worth that aches. I guarantee that once hired I will work harder and faster than nearly anyone else. I will do what's right, not what's easy. I will give my place of employment every ounce of my energy. That's just the way I'm built.
And yet I will make less money than almost anyone else my age. And treated as though that's all I'm worth when I know I am worth So. Much. More.
Most of all, I'm disappointed with myself.
Did I really give writing my all? I wanted to, but everyone seems to have needed me...kids, friends, peers...and I felt ashamed when my house was messy or I gained bulky weight around my middle. There isn't time in a day to do everything. Something must be sacrificed.
I sacrificed my writing time. And now, today...I'm sad.