I can now.  One thing about waiting for bad news is that eventually the waiting can be harder than the news itself.  Did I use this title previously?  I don’t know.  I wrote directly but also rather obliquely, a couple of times over the summer about being on pins and needles, holding my breath, waiting to see if I would lose my job.  The waiting, the fears, the tension waiting for something hard to happen or not was the mood of the summer.  It was a hard summer.  Maybe you’d even say an incredibly hard summer.  Then just two days before I left on vacation,  I did get laid off.  I did. 

Tomorrow I go in for one last time– to pass some things on to my colleague.  They are keeping her.  My colleague is a woman, also lesbian, also a mom, also Jewish, also with integrity and humor.  She is younger than I and she  was a law clerk when I was the legal director at another organization.  We met when she was in her early 20’s 15 years ago.  Then she left town and began her career elsewhere.  Then she returned to work with me as an attorney at my old organization– an AIDS service organization where I headed up the legal program serving people with HIV for almost 13 years.  And then, and I am nothing but flattered and very grateful, she came two years ago to work for me in this organization.  She and I have quietly grown to be very close friends, allies, co-conspirators as we worked hard and laughed a lot and complained from time to time, together.  A little like Dorothy and the Scarecrow– I will miss her far and away most of all.  I will miss our daily friendship, our shared sensibility and our very (in certain ways) intimate contact, as Jewish working mothers trying to put it all together and talking about lots of it along the way. 

The future looms big and unknown.  This job, or rather the office, was never a home in the way others have been, and it was an odd set of contradictions.  I loved many aspects of the work.  I learned a lot and grew substantially in many ways.  I got to do some things of real significance that I had not done before.  I worked hard.  But something was never really fully right and I was never able to be fully myself.  In many ways I was always off kilter and holding my breath.  I will see what it feels like after I turn in my keys and walk out for the last time.  But for now I can say this, as uncertain as the future is– which is uncertain in these times– I feel like my soul is slowly returning to my being– as I ponder the fall probably without paid work at all and surely without this job.  I feel like my soul is pouring back into myself after hiding myself in some way during the workweek for many years.  I was out as a lesbian, as a Jew, as the person I am, but I wasn’t myself somehow.  There wasn’t room.

These are complicated times, and complicated issues.  Don’t get too comfortable assuming it is “for the best” nor too comfortable consoling me about what a terrible thing it is to get laid off in this economy.  If you ask me is this a good thing or a terrible thing, I would have to say– yes.  Many people have a hard time holding these seemingly contradictory things in a mind at one time.  But that is often the situation.

Tomorrow is the first day of school for my daughter, the fourth grader.  I see myself writing more in the coming weeks.  I see myself writing more about work and writing, about schools and the lovely and the horrible things about seeing your young person back into a school for the year.  I see myself walking her to school and often picking her up.  I see myself reading with her and her hopefully growing happier, easier because I am around more. 

I will, as I have promised, write about my Bat Mitzvah especially now as it looms closer and closer.  I will not have long days with time on my hands–if that is what you are imagining, but I will have a little time to think and write and see people.  There are many people who have offered, but a few old friends in particular, not all lawyers either, who have said they will get together with me and help me think and imagine not just what I can get next, but what I want next. 

I will breathe in and breathe out and hopefully figure out interesting things about the coming weeks, the next job and the next big chapter of this life.  I will love to hear from you.

5 responses to “Exhale

  1. Laura, thank you for another well written, beautiful post. I like what you are saying. I like that you express the contradictions within the situation. And, that not all the answers are apparent, yet. Your words resonate with me (again!). May you cherish the time you get to spend with your daughter. Hugs.

  2. I’ll be thinking of you in your transformation.

  3. I too am holding out ease and patience for you as something magical comes from this. You’re on my mind!

  4. I like the words others have in mind for you: transformation, answers, magical.

    We will be cheering, reading, hoping that it all ends up feeling “for the best.”

  5. thinking of you..so much to think about

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