March 30th, 7:08 pm. Time to NYC departure: about 9 hours
It’s my last day walking the Russ Reid halls after almost seven years. I’ve cleared out my office and packed up my car, and I’m driving home to Monrovia. On my last day of full-time work back in February, (before moving to part-time contract status) things had wrapped up more perfectly than I could have scripted. But today’s ending felt surprisingly different: anticlimactic, bittersweet and slightly awkward due to the unusual circumstances of my departure. That prior ‘last day,’ I drove home delirious with gratitude for the chapter I’m closing and excitement for the journey to come. On 3/31, I’ll be leaving for NYC/the East coast for 6 weeks, but today, I just wanted to crawl in my bed, pour a glass of wine or break down in tears, or possibly do all three at once.
I probably, maybe could have held it together if it weren’t for Spotify and my “For Now” playlist, filled with songs that reminded me why I’m taking this step. I’ve turned to this playlist plenty of times in the prior two months, and now as I’m driving home, up pops one of my new favorite songs for this season – “Let Go” by RAC: (Most awesome parts bolded below)
Tell me, tell me, tell me your problems
I’m here for you
Just try, just try, just try to stay sober
It’s eating you
And they say you are a monster, but what I see’s a child
Your eyes, your eyes are glowing red
And your tongue has caught on fire
(You are golden, you are pure)
So let go, let go of your fire
Let it go, let go of your fire
Live it up ‘til we crash and there’s smoke in the air
Let it go, let go of your fire
I started crumbling at “you are golden, you are pure,” and by about the fifth or sixth “let go,” I’m leveled; any resolve I had to hold in all the emotions is broken, and up swells all the feelings -fear, worry, expectation, doubt- that have been building over the past few months.
I can’t tell you how at odds I felt with this repeated encouragement to “let go.” What I REALLY wanted was to hold on tighter to any semblance of control/a plan/a safety net I could find. What I really wanted was to know something more concrete than “I’m leaving my job, heading to NYC and I’m not exactly sure what I’ll do next.” It’s relatively easy to say you’re going to take a leap of faith and trust that it will work out, but deep down I still felt incredibly unsettled that I didn’t have more clarity about what I’d be ‘doing with my life.’ It felt like somehow this song was trying to break through the stubborn, control-freak exterior and in the moment, all I could do was fight against it – I don’t WANT to let go, I DON’T WANT TO LET GO.
So we were at war, this song and me, but somehow I knew the song was going to win, could almost feel it pry my fingers, one by one, from their death grip on life. Have you been there? Gotten to the end of your rope and realized you needed to surrender those control impulses and just let things happen? It sucks. It’s painful. It’s uncomfortable. I really, really don’t like it. But on some level I knew I needed to let go of the desire to ‘have it all figured out’ and walk forward in faith that things might settle into place sometime, somehow, perfect plan notwithstanding.
So, given the 80,000 mentions of “let go, let go, let go, let go…” and said internal warfare over letting go, I’m somewhere just shy of sobbing when I walk into my cottage-y house, and start spilling the feelings to any of my wonderful roommates who will listen. They know it’s a challenging season of change and have been incredibly loving, inspiring, supportive, encouraging through it all. (Such beautiful, strong women, each one of them. It’s inspiring to live under the same roof.) I unload the fears, the worry that without a job as both a distraction and a forum for achievement, I’m not sure how I’ll feel about the person I find. I assume they’ll think I’m crazy. But they understand, and empathize, and embolden. And then my friends Tiffany and Heather come over soon after, comfort-food snacks in hand, and we walk through it again.
Through all these conversations this last night in California before the NY trip, these women remind that though this is an unknown time, it’s full of possibility, and sometimes, when we set down our plans in life, we stumble upon things greater than what we can ever engineer for ourselves. Deep down, I really believe they’re right, and I’m so glad and grateful they continue to speak their words of wisdom, affirmation, strength – because some of the toughest parts of your life require people to tell you things a few different times and ways before you can actually take hold of it. And even then…you might still need to be reminded periodically. 🙂
So we drink wine, share thoughts on life, eat Trader Joe’s food (a proven remedy for bad days) and slowly, it seems a bit more doable to take this next step, to wake up in a few hours and head to New York. There was only one little thing missing. You know how they say when one part of life seems out of our control, we often tighten up our grip on other areas? Well, looking for one last small way to regain some perceived control over life, I start stringing together a necklace to bring with me on the trip. Naturally. As if one more necklace would somehow signify to the world that I had my ish together. 🙂 I guess we all have our different ways we cope with the anxiety and ambiguity in life, different things we focus on – or even hide behind – to help us feel okay, to get by. I no longer had a job, and maybe I could let go of that, because I had some good friends and a new necklace, and for some reason, it felt like maybe, that was a good enough start. 🙂