I stayed on Long Island much longer than I planned so yesterday was my first day living in my apartment in Astoria with the dog. Until today, I had not felt that my trip was truly over.
It was the middle of January 2013 and I was sitting on the PATH train to Jersey City, going to the office. Jersey City is a bunch of high-rises built like hives for the worker bees like me. It’s bleak. The PATH train is bleak. January in New York is bleak. On that day, I looked up and saw a bunch of sad people in sad gray clothing and their sad Northface puffy jackets and decided that I can’t do this for another 20 or more years.
I didn’t have to think about it. I mean, I’d already been thinking about it for years. I knew I was going to drive all over the country.
Quickly, on the PATH train, I calculated what I had in my back account and what I had saved as a down payment for a weekend house in upstate New York. My weekend house was the casualty of this trip.
The way I figured it, there will always be houses to buy upstate but my ass isn’t getting any younger. More urgently, it will be harder to lower that growing ass into a sports car for a cross-country drive at 70 years old.
Once I made that decision, even before we got to my stop, the Newport-Pavonia station in Jersey City, I was smiling and relieved.
I didn’t say anything to my manager or colleagues that day. While it seems the decision was spontaneous, I was thinking about it for years and I had been saving money. Still, I believe in the 24 hour rule. Unless it’s a life or death situation, you can sit with something for one day. Give yourself a moment to really think about your decision and how to communicate it so everyone is as supportive as possible.
The next day, I bounced into the office and knew I was going to start the chain reaction that would become the rest of my life.
In my case, it was not a “you can take this job and shove it” scenario. As I told my manager, everyone is great and I know there’s a lot of opportunity for me but I’m not interested in any of those opportunities.
I stayed there another two months, which was great as I was able to get a paycheck while planning for my trip. My boss lady said it was a help to her but I know I was the main beneficiary of that arrangement.
Side track: Never burn bridges. After seven years on my first job, a French bank in New York, I decided to leave and try my hand at standup comedy. We were friendly tightknit group and they were supportive of my decision. Not only were they supportive of my decision, they would come to my shows and laugh harder than anyone. After more than a year of the worst anxiety, I decided I did not like standing up in front of people. My former manager from the bank offered me a two year work contract in Paris. I took it. Again, never burn bridges.
Back to why I’m proud of myself. I decided I was going to drive to all 48 contiguous states for a six months while having fun and blogging and I did it. Look, I know there are people who can be even prouder of themselves. Like the kid who wanted to see every country in the world before he lost his eyesight to a degenerative disease. I don’t believe you have to wait until you’re losing your eyesight or have cancer to do something you will enjoy.
In the end, it wasn’t just about driving my car and amazing places. I needed a mental reboot and the chance to broaden my possibilities for the future.
I’m still no closer to figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. The main reason for blogging was to create a portfolio of work that reflects my true talents. Looking back at the blog, I hope someone needs the services of a bitchy queen who eats and drinks too much.