I blame Dan Pearce over at Single Dad Laughing for all of this. 365 Days to Live? Really Dan? That’s a life plan now? That I bought into? Because of course, I would. Why not? WHAT? Well, it got me thinking, which has a funny way of getting you acting, and now I have this.
And I blame him. Oh, he wrote about getting old, as if, and watching No Tomorrow on Netflix, and how he was going to start living like the world was going to end soon and he had only had 365 Days to Live. He even made a hashtag for it, #365DaysToLive, and started having adventures. Like going to London and moving into a cooler place and crap. And I read, and I thought. Politics and realistic fears about dying in a nuclear holocaust over what Lady Gaga said to Stephen Colbert about Kanye at 3AM on Twitter aside, what if we all started living that way?
Like that EMDR dude who asked me (back in 2009), “What if the world wasn’t a scary place?” and I didn’t talk to him for a month and was incensed beyond all reason and hated on him and couldn’t figure out why. He died, bless him, but that question lives on, deep in my brain.
About the time that Dan his brother were cavorting in London, I came across an unusual job posting, and I very quietly applied and didn’t tell a soul. I hadn’t seen anything similar there since two years ago to almost the day right before my position at the College That Shall Remain Nameless was eliminated. There was a perfect job there for B, too, then, and we talked about moving there together, but then the Very Drunk Dominator and I had the epic breakup that resulted in this on his birthday:
I didn’t apply then. The breakup, the job loss, all of it was too much at once, and I let it go. But I never forgot about it. So, I didn’t think anything would come of it when I applied there back in March. At least I applied this time, I thought. No regrets. But I was cogitating what Dan (the one at Single Dad Laughing, not the one in the other room) was doing, and I grudgingly admired how brave he was to do it all in the midst of depression and loneliness and struggles and feeling immobilized. I posted a while back about being at a point where change was going to happen no matter what, and how little panic I felt this time, which was weird, and was causing me to panic. If that makes sense. My lack of panic was causing me panic. Go figure. That’s a brain on anxiety. The landlord wanted our house back, Murphy was wrapping up 4th grade (and elementary school here) in staggeringly absent style, we were literally going broke, I was making ends meet but not in a way that made me feel good, and I was nonplussed. I was zen.
I am almost never ZEN. Zen is not one of my words.
The panic never really came, though, and I had an interview for a local job that would have been nice. It was a little weird, though. It’s really close to where I live, and it was via Skype. It forced me to clear a space behind me and figure out how I needed to look and what I needed to wear and so on. I never heard back. I hope they found someone great. They’re a good school.
But then that other job called, the one about which I’d told no one, the dream one, and they wanted an interview. And they’re far. Really far. Across oceans kind of far. Dream job in a dream location kind of far. Once in your life, if you’re lucky. Most people don’t have that kind of luck regardless of skill. And they were willing to do the whole process via Skype. And I thought, hmmm. Well, I’ve already got the set-up the done, and traveling is overrated.
Then I told three people about it. Three very trusted people who really want what’s best for me and Murph. And the interview went well. And we talked about my whales, which I wanted to do so badly with the other school before the tragic chainsaw murder-suicide with which, in the end, neither the whales nor all of the highly paid non-church administrators, could compete. They liked my whale project. And they are even better positioned to pull it off.
I told two more people after that, and a couple of days later, I heard that I was a finalist. The second interview was hard. I don’t know what I had prepared for but it did not matter because it was out the window when he asked me what was behind me on the high shelf. My Bryn Mawr College Lantern? Great story there. Nope. Next to it. Blue Ivy the Metal Chicken? He didn’t want to to know, and I didn’t offer up that her mother, Beyonce, was 5 feet tall and in my bedroom window. But he was laughing.
It was fun, interesting and different from other interviews. But hard. Exhaustingly hard. I’d been forewarned. And respect, sir. Respect. I am hard to rattle professionally. I hold my own most of the time. After it, my head spun. I had no idea how it went. I always know. WTAF just happened? I am a reader of people. I am a sensor of things. I had thought it was good, but it had ended oddly. It was late afternoon on a Friday, and I was done in by it all.
I didn’t realize how much I wanted it. I don’t let myself want things often. And last year, when Michele came so close to a dream job, I was crushed right there with her. So, it’s hard for us to hope, people. Hard. Really, really hard. I don’t go there. WE don’t go there. But it had snuck in; I wanted it. I picked up Murph, went to Wine and Spirits, and the Circle of 5 and I contemplated things. By Saturday morning, of the 6 of us in the circle, 5 were pretty sure it was mine. Guess who wasn’t? And yet, there was that calm (for the most part, I did have a couple of moments). I remained zen with a dash of fright. They’d said they’d probably have a decision by Wednesday.
“Circle of 5,” I said with great ceremony and very serious intent (and a ton of self-awareness for which I would like quiet applause), “If they offer me this job, I will accept it, and then I will find 793 reasons that it will not work and that we cannot go, and I will want to back out. You must not listen to me. Do you hear me? You have to make me go. No matter what I say. Promise me that you will not let me back away.” And they all agreed.
On Monday, I started to write about feeling like I was sitting on a bench at the fork in the road, and I was willing to wait to until the bus came by to take us where we were headed (but instead wrote a Mother’s Day Gift Guide, go figure). You know how Glennon likes to talk about “be still and know?” She’s even got a tattoo of it.
I get it. I felt still. I knew. Or at least I knew that whatever happened next was what was going to be exactly what was supposed to happen next. I was calm. I felt pretty sure that things were going to be the way they should be whatever that looked like. I’ve said before that I feel done here. Mission, whatever it was, accomplished. And at the juncture of the figurative fork, it was a pretty serene bench on which to sit and wait. Literally, everything was holding back, and there’s a lot of craptastic everything. I could feel it being kept at bay. It was sort of like the Universe, or God, or the Great Cthulu was sitting next to me, hanging out, patting my shoulder now and again, eating an apple, nodding at me like a friendly stranger who was just keeping me company for a while.
And then, I got the job.
They called Wednesday. My voice caught when she said it. My eyes filled, and my throat closed, and I had to close my eyes for a few seconds. I said something about a drink going down the wrong way. I got through the call, typing a note to Murph’s teacher at 3:11 while I listened, that simply said, “Tell him they called and I said YES. Tell him now.” I had promised that he would be the first to know, and I keep my promises to my kid. Because the Circle of 5 is really 6 if we count Murphy, who has been sure of this since I applied. He knew, too. He felt it. I sent texts while I sobbed the ugly tears of relief and joy and wonder and pain and anticipation that I did not expect. I was glad that Murph was staying to work with his teacher so I had some time to gather my wits about me. Michele said she was crying. Deirdre said she was crying. Murphy’s teacher said she had to step out of the classroom for a minute because she started crying. Happy tears, people. You know your tribe when you are all sobbing happy, relieved, hopeful, grateful tears together when something amazing happens in the nick of time.
If this has taught all of us anything, it’s that the God and the Universe and Cthulu (or whatever you believe), will let things come down to the wire but won’t let you go. And that when you’re doing what you’re meant to be doing, it will be easy. You won’t be fighting and clawing and struggling. It will come to you if you can do your part and if you can just be still. I spent two weeks saying that if it was meant to be, it would be. And not worrying. I think some of the tears this week have been tears of wonder. Because while we all hoped, I’m not sure any of us believed. Now? I think maybe we do. I think maybe we all found some way to believe that good things will happen.
Back to Dan Pearce and his 365 Days to Live experiment. I guess ours started May 1. If I had 365 Days to Live, if the world were ending in a year, and I knew it, where we are going is where I would want to spend those days, and what I’m gonna be doing is how I’d spend them. As we throw away and give away and sell off almost everything we own, we’re feeling lighter and freer by the minute. Murphy is learning some valuable lessons about “things” and “stuff” and what really matters and traveling light and traveling in general (through life, through the world, through our time here).
Ever since I met him, in a Delivery Room long ago in place far, far away, I’ve thought my only job was to facilitate HIM being HIM.
We are moving. We are moving far, far away to a paradise that’s essentially a dream vacation for most people. We are leaving almost everything we own but our summer clothes and pets. One way airfare to Paradise (but not on Delta). Murphy is going to grow up diving reefs and snorkeling and studying marine life up close and personal and learning about environmental issues and oceanography and navigation from people doing those hard, important things. He’s going to scuba camp this summer, and robotics camp, and coding camp, and then he’s going to snorkel and kayak for a month. He may not have hit the health jackpot, but he just won the “best childhood ever” one. Fries is about to be among his hermit crab people, for better or worse. We’ll see if his crabby dictator demeanor flies in the wild. Me? I’m going to work on fascinating projects with brilliant people that will, literally, impact the world. Clean energy. Marine engineering. Health professions. Space (like Cosmos not Tiny Houses). Culinary. And I might just get to save those fucking whales while I’m at it. Because I love those damned whales.
Fear does not win this time. The illusion of safety? Doesn’t win. The sense of the familiar being some kind of value-added proposition to staying put? Nope. Loses, too. Paralysis? Bye, Felicia! Anxiety? Panic? Immobilizing terror about fucking up not just your life but your kid’s life, too? The Biggest Loser.
Last night, another single mom at Murph’s school told me that she thought I was a badass. “You make it look easy,” she said. “I can’t even imagine picking up and moving everything and pets with a kid with medical issues. You are fearless.” No, I am not. I think I am afraid of everything. Or maybe, I’m not.
365 Days to Live, Dan Pearce? Hold my beer while I win. Oh, do I win. Because I believe in “Go Big or Go Home.” But well played, you. And well played, universe. You too, God. And Cthulu. Well played. Very well played.
Things on my Wishlist at the moment that we need (besides a big, huge lotto win):
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Want to help us move? Want to help us with our new start? You can donate to The Kraken’s Relocation Fund. Every last dollar will go towards helping us to not live in a tent on the beach during hurricane season (concrete walls do help) and will secure a bed in which to sleep when you want to visit paradise.