The kind of change I’m
thinking of making going to make is bigger than a fork in the road. It’s a divining-rod change. Or maybe a hockey stick change? Anyway, it’s a change that demands angles and a sharp demarcation of “before” and “after” by which to reference life in future conversations. It’s a departure from life as I know it, to life as I hope it to be.
And it’s going to take a deep breath and a big gulp before I leap off into this new life. Even changes that you plan for, that you work towards, require that final “can’t go back” step. I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t gulp at that, no matter how prepared they think they are.
Here’s where I get to the point, rather than rambling on generically.
I’ve now lived in Arizona for as many years as I had lived in Maine. That represents half of my life, and all of my adult life. Eighteen of those nineteen years have been spent working on the same campus, and sixteen of those working for AcronymCo. The thought of leaving this job, some day in a future that is more near than far, is nervous-making. Because it’s all I’ve known. Day in and day out, 40 (50, 60) hours a week. For sixteen years. I know the people. I know the rhythm. I know the rules. I know the culture.
Coming from a campus of over 12,000 people, I’m not sure if I would know how to function in a small office environment, for a small (by comparison, it surely will be) company. Oh, sure, I know I could and I will, but it’s sure going to be a culture shock. I’ll especially miss all of the perks that come with working for a multi-billion dollar global company with more money than they know what to do with. Free fruit, soda and coffee (Starbucks AND Seattle’s Best) all day long. On-site conveniences including massages, manicures/pedicures, a spa, a bank, a hair dresser and a full service doctor’s office. A campus gym with personal coaches. A cafeteria that’s more like a restaurant, complete with live music on Wednesdays, free gelato on Fridays, free popcorn on Tuesdays and Thursdays, guest chefs from local restaurants, and a killer Caesar salad. Every day in the cafe there is some sort of vendor set up at a booth selling local pecans, or spice mixes, or jewelry. The community farm co-op delivers to the campus and hosts occasional farmer’s markets in the parking lot. We don’t even have to go anywhere to donate blood or get a mammogram, for Pete’s sake.
What I’m saying is, we have it pretty fucking good here, despite how much we may complain.
On a personal level, I have four weeks of paid vacation per year. I can take sick days that don’t cut into my vacation time. I get a two month sabbatical every seven years, on top of the vacation for that year. I can work from home one day a week, and more if I need to. We get multiple bonuses a year. We have fantastic benefits. My company matches my 401k contributions and rewards us with stock. They’re paying 100% for my education. My salary is nothing to sneeze at, and that’s despite my current degree-less state.
Listed out like that, even I didn’t realize how much I’m going to be giving up when I leave. I have been very, very spoiled. For many years. I’m honestly not trying to brag here, nobody knows better than me how fortunate I’ve been.
When we move to Maine, I will be lucky to make 2/3 of what I’m making now. My annual vacation will probably be reduced to two weeks (though I would push for three). I’m sure there will be no sabbaticals. There will certainly be no on-site massages. I will have none of the comforts that come with tenure. I will be the new kid on the block, starting with a blank slate, sans all of the knowledge I currently have instantly at my fingertips by virtue of just being here for so long.
So yeah. It’s nervous-making.
And it’s happening, just about a year from now. The clock is ticking. As soon as I’m finished with my degree, and I only have four classes left. Then I will be eligible for all of those jobs who wouldn’t consider sixteen years of experience equal to a degree. I could apply to those jobs reserved for new and recent college graduates.
Once the job is secured, everything else follows at a rapid pace.
Once the job is secured, I take that gulp and I take that leap.
I will be losing a lot, by leaving this life that I live right now. But I consider it worth it for the things I will gain.
A little house with a couple of acres. A lot of trees and a bit of grass. Hardwood floors and stone front steps. Air so fresh it almost stings. Spur of the moment wanders along the beach. Picking apples and shopping farm stands. Fresh corn in July. Fireflies. Island exploration. Family and friends. Community-oriented culture. Harvest fairs. Proximity to a host of fascinating places. Double-digit (and if I’m being honest, sometimes single-digit) temperatures. Life’s mad dash reduced to an amble. Physical and mental relaxation for myself and my husband. And hell, for my dog too, probably (who knows, maybe she thinks Arizona is stressful too).
It may not seem compensatory to you, but to me going home is worth more than just about anything I would have to give up to get there.