Whirlwind: A Timeline

Sunday, April 2: The last of my New Orleans visitors flies back to Philadelphia. I miss them immediately

Monday, April 4 – Sunday, April 10: 7 day, 80 hour work week that is exhausting and defeating. I practically crawl out of the building on the 7th day.

Monday April 11- Tuesday April 12: Existential crisis ensues. My life breaks apart at the seams, jagged pieces cascading into the darkness. Just kidding, I FaceTime my mother several times and eat too much licorice.  I decide I am moving back to Philadelphia. Another existential crisis. What will I do in Philly? And when can I go? And how? Should I go back to advertising? Wait what? Where did that come from? You have a Master’s in SOCIAL WORK. 

Wednesday April 13: I start then later stop 5 applications for social worker positions in Philly. I spend hours on a cover letter that I never submit.

I feel suddenly compelled to send a slightly frantic message to an old friend who I worked with in advertising in Philadelphia. Unbeknownst to me, she just happens to be visiting New Orleans (!!), and offers to meet for drinks that evening. We drink wine and catch up and I pour my existential crisis all over her. Metaphorically drenched, she is insightful and encouraging and exactly what I need at the moment in my life. So is the wine. I decide to (maybe) make a(nother) career change (eventually).

Thursday, April 14: I e-mail a former supervisor and former coworker to ask if they even think it would be possible for me to return to my copywriting career. I receive emphatic, confidence- boosting responses. My former supervisor (Hi Karen!) goes above and beyond: e-mailing contacts, offering up her connections and giving invaluable support and advice. My former coworker is equally encouraging. She offers to meet for drinks once I’m in town or to catch up via phone.

Friday April 15: Former coworker messages me again. Actually, she has a position open on her team and would I be interested? I am excited and panic stricken. It has been one day since I decided to maybe, possibly, perhaps uproot my entire life one vague day in the future. I FaceTime my mother several times and eat too much licorice. I say yes, I am very, very, interested.

Less than an hour later, I receive a Linkedin Message from a recruiter at the agency. I e-mail her back and we schedule a phone interview.

Saturday April 16: My long suffering mother and I discuss all of my options, ad nauseum. On our 29th face time she finally says well why don’t you just move to Philadelphia and figure it out from there? I am stunned. My mother is the wisest, most financially savvy person I know. She has always engrained in me that you must have a job before you quit a job. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush is her favorite saying. (It never made sense to me as a child – I didn’t want one bird, let alone two).

I panic and try to FaceTime my mother then realize I’m already on the phone with her. I’ve run out of licorice. We decide together that I should give notice on Monday and begin the moving process.  I am 32 years old and do not know what I would do without my mother

Sunday April 17:  I look around my home at all of the clutter I have collected over three years. I vividly recall the stress, aggravation and frustration that moving provokes.  Still, my mind is clear of doubts. I replenish my licorice supply and begin packing.

Monday April 18: I give my notice. My boss is understanding and supportive. I am the 12th person to quit in 6 months. It feels like I’m leaping onto a lifeboat from aboard a ship, slowly sinking into the churning, icy sea.

Tuesday April 19: I sit in my hot car for a quick, sweaty phone interview with the recruiter.

Monday, April 25: My first ever Skype interview. It seems to go well.

Tuesday, April 26: I announce to the Facebook world that I am leaving New Orleans because, why should Beyonce get all of the attention.

Tuesday April 26- Thursday April 28: I log thousands of steps on my Fitbit from packing, sorting, and organizing my clutter. I sell a bunch of stuff via Facebook and LetGo. I get a rush of exhilaration every time something leaves my house.  Yet so much remains. Mild existential crises are scattered throughout. I question how THE HELL I’ve moved 12 times in the last 10 years without being involuntarily committed.

Thursday, April 28: The recruiter calls and says I got the job (!). I book a flight to Philadelphia to look at apartments (!).

Friday April 29 – Death: Fame, fortune, cat hoarding, die a hero. Just my best guess.

 

My head is still spinning but I am awash with gratitude for all of the support I’ve received during this whirlwind. It’s no surprise to me that almost all of the people who have helped me throughout this have been women. We are constantly hearing about how women judge, pick apart and cut down other women. I won’t delve into the roots of that behavior because this soap box is getting wobbly, but my experience has been the complete opposite. From much-needed advice and guidance, to offers of resources and bedrooms to crash in, to just a listening ear while I staggered toward the right path, drunk on licorice. I am so thankful to have these women (and of course, Brian) in my hive. It’s a beautiful life when you surround yourself with the some of the good ones.

 

 

Missed Connection

There is a section of Craigslist called Missed Connections. There people post about encounters that didn’t quite happen or got cut short without any way to get back in touch. Like that cute guy you locked eyes with at a concert but then lost in the crowd.  Or the bike messenger who sped off before you could ask her out (and be rejected – she’s too cool for you, Bill).

When I lived in Philadelphia in my early 20s, I checked the section regularly, always convinced I would find myself. I loved the idea of a stranger being so enthralled by me that he turns to the internet in a last ditch effort to connect. How special that would be, I thought, to be so viscerally wanted. (The fact that this is my idea of romance may be partially why I’m still single). I never did find myself on Craigslist, despite being consistently enthralling. Luckily I found connections everywhere else. Friends, boyfriends, coworkers, acquaintances, I was never lacking for connections during my years in Philly. It was the best of times with the best of friends. When I moved to New York City, and later to Baltimore, I found more connections and eventually built networks in each city, but it never felt as effortless as it had been in Philadelphia.

[Editor’s note: I spent 20 minutes trying to find pictures from my time in Philadelphia that were appropriate for a blog that (only) my mother reads. I failed. Let’s just say, I really enjoyed my 20s]

Before I moved here I took a 2 month trip through Central America. Travel is the ultimate connector and during that trip I quickly bonded with people from around the world. The ease and depth of those connections reminded me of my days in Philadelphia.

I arrived in New Orleans envisioning a city full of potential new friendships. Instead, I mostly found missed connections.  The old friend who suddenly disappeared. The well-meaning classmates I couldn’t click with. The friendly but insular locals. Friendships that served their purposes but never penetrated the surface.

It took me a long time to get to the root of the problem. I’ve always considered myself a bit of a lone wolf. I love making friends but I’m also fiercely independent, perpetually single, and cherish my alone time.  I can also be stubbornly optimistic when things aren’t going my way. I refuse to believe that hard times will last. I am aware of my many privileges and how much worse things could always be. And there have been so many good times here.  Something was just missing.

Over the last few months, some of my closest friends from Philadelphia have visited. Having them here felt like being jolted awake from a long strange nap. I felt more alive and more like myself than I had in a long time.  I didn’t know I was sleeping until they arrived and shook me awake. I didn’t know I was disconnected until I reconnected.

These aren’t the people I grew up with. They’re the people I’ve grown up with. From a single recent college graduate trying to find my way, to a single recent college graduate trying…wait. Okay some of us have grown up. They are some of the deepest connections I have, and sharing a city with them again was the revelation I needed.

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At brunch before I drove her to the airport, my friend/sister wife Lisa asked me, “After all your moves, where do you consider home?” I didn’t have to think about it. It was Philadelphia.

After everyone flew back home, that old feeling returned. That dull aching for something I could never identify. But I finally recognized it. It was a longing for real connections. It was a longing for home.

So that’s where I’m headed next month. I’m packing up my whole life, and I’m moving back. To my people, to my city, to my home.

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visitphilly.com

 

 

Sunshine Awards: For you, Tabitha!

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I’m not really a part of the “blogging community” nor do I have any real desire to be. I don’t want hundreds of readers. I don’t want indignant or offensive comments. And I don’t want to feel obligated to write posts consistently (although that would be a good thing).

However, when one of my favorite people in the world asks me to partake in a blogging activity, I’m happy to oblige. Plus I like answering questions about myself. My college friend Tabitha over at Studer Team tagged me to participate in a questionnaire for the Sunshine Awards. What are they? I don’t know. Am I nominated? I don’t think so? But ask and I shall answer, Tab! 🙂

10 Questions:

1. What is the first thing you drink in the morning? Water. When I started school I tried becoming a coffee drinker but I just thought of it as extra calories and money.  I want to try to start drinking a gallon of water a day.  Also, if it’s certain early early mornings the answer is vodka.

2. What is your favorite day of the week and why?  Hmmm, well I’m currently on break so everyday is great. I guess Saturdays are my favorite because, ya know, they’re play time. Let’s be honest though, every day in New Orleans can be play time.

3. What is your least favorite chore? Hmm, I don’t really think of things I do as chores. I wash the dishes when I use them. Clean my room when it’s messy. I actually really enjoy cleaning. There isn’t really anything I have to do that I would dread, like raking leaves or shoveling snow. Probably because I rent?  I have little to no desire to own a home.

4. What are the biggest changes from your life today compared to five years ago? In school. In a  new city. Single? I can’t remember if I was in a relationship or not. Now in my 30s which is a big game changer. Happier. Poorer. Really into cats.

5. What category of pins do you like best? (food, nail art, crafts, etc). Took me a while to realize this referenced pinterest. I don’t use pinterest except occasionally, when in the throes of wanderlust, to browse pretty travel quotes.  Pinterest seems like a rabbit hole that I would never escape.

6. If you had 60 minutes all to yourself in the middle of the day today, what would you do? Well, I have that pretty frequently. Go for a walk, take a nap, cook, clean, stalk travel websites, ride my bike, watch netflix, go to my corner bar, play with my cat, read a book, etc etc.

7. What was the last movie/video/commercial (damn you, Carters) that made you cry? Well. Last night I watched a 4 hour marathon of My Cat From Hell and I teared up during every episode.  Guys, Jackson Galaxy is not just rehabilitating cats, he’s fixing relationships.  Gets me every time. Funny you should ask: yes this IS why I’m single.

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8. If you had the time and money to study something in depth for 6 months, what would you want to learn? I’m currently doing that: social work

9. What are three things you took for granted today? I’m not sure how to answer that. We are all constantly taking things for granted: access to food, clean water, the ability (for many of us) to breathe, walk, see, hear, talk, dance, laugh, hug, read, write, etc.  But if we spent all day thinking about everything we take for granted, we’d never get out of bed.  I actually haven’t done that today but that’s besides the point. Here are some things I especially appreciate today: the weather in New Orleans, the bowl(s) of pasta I just ate (in bed), new friends, having a few more days of break, Netflix instant, da bird cat toy, my bed, oreo cookies.

10. What is your favorite personality trait about yourself? The ability to remain calm and find humor in everything.

I think I’m supposed to ask 10 more questions to fellow bloggers except I don’t consistently read any blogs (except Studer Team of course). Sooo, I’ll just ask questions that no one will answer, k? K.

1) If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

2) What are you doing for Mardi Gras? I have a very comfortable sofa bed

3) What do you consider the pros and cons of marriage?

4) If you were a cat, what would you be? Answer: awesome.

5) If you could change only one thing about the world, what would it be?

6) What do you love about your life?

7) Where do you see yourself in a year?

8) Have you seen Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee? You should.

9) What would you change about your life? Why don’t/can’t you?

10)  Where’d you get that sweater? It looks amazing on you.

Love you Tab! Still want to be you when I grow up.