Today begins my last week of office work. (Wahhoooo!) Every single day that I’ve been at work for the last two weeks since giving notice I have felt completely anxious about all of the work I should be doing at home, all of the errands I have piling up, all of the things on my to do list that are just waiting… for me. Once you give notice the “I don’t give a fuck” mentality kicks right in, and suddenly it’s like WHY am I here again?! Didn’t I quit two weeks ago?!
A few weeks ago Kamel and I got into a fight. This is not abnormal, but I’ll give you a moment to brace yourselves. What was the fight about? Well… when he got his job offer and accepted it, and gave notice, and it was all official, I took him out to a celebration dinner. There was champagne and steak and ocean views.
When I gave notice the following Monday, there was no celebration (aside from the internet giving a collective WAHOO!), and I was mostly ok with that because I felt like having the ability to give notice was gift enough. But then Kamel had going away lunches and going away get togethers and his last full day ended with a trip to the bar with a bunch of co-workers. Now, I wasn’t expecting any of this for myself. Actually, I think I would be straight up mortified if my job wanted to do anything special for me. In my ideal world my last day will come, I will go to work, the end of the day will appear, I’ll get in my car and drive off into the sunset. It will be gentle, and there will be no fanfare, I will simply stop showing up. And I will be relieved.
But then Kamel continued his crusade of convincing. His life’s work of trying to get me to WANT to move out of the city, and in this case – south. Foster City, Redwood Shores, Burlingame, Palo Alto. Months ago, when he first brought up the south, I said no. Hell no. And then he needled his way in to my brain and I thought, well maybe. If it’s cheaper, and true… it is warmer. So we looked. And every single time I would search for apartments I would get a sick, sad feeling in my stomach. That’s where we would be living? In that shitty one bedroom for similar rent, in the middle of nowhere? With bad carpeting, lame bathrooms, on the ground floor, with doors on the outside of the building (Like a Super 8 Motel)? No… I couldn’t. And I grew more and more frustrated.
Where is cheaper housing? It’s not in the city, it’s not north or south, and moving east would only add to commute time, not make it better. And is every apartment, even the one we are currently living in, a giant compromise? Why does this city have housing that I feel is “doable” at best? That’s the best reaction I have, “Yeah, I could do this. I guess it’s the best for the price…” It’s exhausting to not love your home. And it’s exhausting to not be able to afford (or be willing to spend the money on) apartments that would make you excited to live there. Apartments that would actually have charm vs just being old.
But Kamel didn’t let up. He didn’t want the commute, and he was convinced we’d find a better deal (something I had not seen in the months we had looked). And when I would say, “No. I worry I’ll be isolated, I’ll be driving into the city all of the time anyway. There is no where to walk out there, we’ll have to drive everywhere. Where will I go? What will I do? I will be stuck in the house all day and I will go insane!” he would tell me that I could work from anywhere now, that we never use the resources of the city (not true, but possibly perceived if you take them for granted), and what difference would it make for me, all I need is a computer, right?
This conversation happened for the third? fourth? fifth time one day while we were both at work, while I had tried again to want to move out of the city, tried to convince myself that it would be better, and again was terrified with the prospect of losing walkable coffee shops, the beach, a 5 minute commute to meetings, the ability to interact with people just by taking a bus downtown. And I realized that we had spent months preparing for Kamel’s job change. There had been discussion after discussion of options and budgets and what-if scenarios. There had been new clothes purchased, and celebration. What had we done to prepare for my job change? The most we had done was make sure that it could feasibly happen. And that was supposed to be enough for me. And I realized, no, I cannot work from just anywhere. No. Working remotely does not mean anywhere. More freedom, yes. Ability to work in my pajamas, in bed, with crumbs sprinkled about and still have a productive, self fulfilled day? No.
And ya know what? I’m having a career shift. I am not unemployed. I am not becoming a house-wife, and this has nothing to do with the wedding (though good timing for my sanity). It’s not about, “oh, I’ll try this and if it doesn’t work, I’ll just get a job.” This is my job. And I’m sure I’ll have many different paths and many different reinventions of what that means for the rest of my life. But just because it doesn’t look like what a job looks like on TV, and just because I’m not required to have a dress code, or a badge, or a desk with an inbox, doesn’t mean I’m not making money, and it doesn’t mean it deserves less respect.
So we’re staying here, in the city. And Kamel has stopped bugging me about moving closer to his job. And it’s an adjustment, these new life things. There are new schedules, and new time expectations, and we’ll pound them out and see what works and what doesn’t, and we’ll do it together. He told me the other day that he was planning on taking me out for a celebration dinner after my first day working from home. And I said, “Why didn’t you tell me that before?!” As is a common statement in my house. And he said, ” I dunno… But I had been thinking about it for a while.” Sigh. It’s a learning process.