Confessions of an Author

A month ago today, my day job let me go.

The shock was utter and complete; I had no idea that I was in trouble until my supervisor asked to speak with me in the conference room. My stomach sank when I saw the HR guy was already there. I sat in confusion and disbelief as they broke up with me. Breaking up is what it felt like, anyway. I wanted to argue with them. My pride demanded I try to show them they were wrong. Defeat descended quickly, however, and then I couldn’t get away fast enough. Stripping down my cubicle to the bare beige and gray was terrible.

They let me go near the end of my shift. I went home, stunned for the entire evening, worrying about the logistics of what to do next.

Rather than stay at home and stew in an anxiety ridden turmoil, the next day I went to a coffee shop with my laptop. I worked on my novel. I’ve been working on this novel for two and a half years. The bulk of the day was spent doing what I loved.

I am of course looking for work, but finding a job in my town is a demanding art form all its own. I’m also looking to get back in school. I have a few hours a day that aren’t spoken for, in that time  I work on finishing up Bento Box.

The first time I was laid off, it was in 2009, when the housing bubble burst and all the jobs stopped. During that time, I wrote two novels. I didn’t know what to do then either, but writing at that time seemed just like something to wile away the hours until I landed my next job.

This time, I don’t feel like I lost a job. I’ve been practicing at this writing business for almost three years now. I’m not lost for things to do, I’m desperate to get everything done in a day. I’ve worked harder in this last month than I feel like I have in a really long time. The only difference now is that I enjoy the work so much more.

This has been a time of unexpected ups and downs for me. The one thing I have going for me is the amount of support I have. So many of my friends have told me, “This is a blessing in disguise,” “This is an opportunity,” or my favorite, “The universe really hit you with a two by four, didn’t it?”

I’m terrified, but I’m going for it. In this situation, what else can I do?

A Little More than Symbolic

As you may or may not know, yesterday I got a tattoo. The design of it is a phoenix, who was drawn, colored and executed by Chris Murphy, of Skin Loft Tattoo in Fairhaven. I can’t possibly recommend him enough, but that’s not the focus of this story.

When I chose the site of my tattoo, I put it on my left shoulder, which was injured in a car accident in 1999. The whole joint has been in crisis off and on since then, but for the most part I function fine as long as I don’t overstress it. I was a little concerned about the tat, but as the needles only go in the depth of a nickel’s width, I thought it should be fine. When my tattoo artist began with the outline, I wasn’t sure I could make it. It was intense, and I could feel my muscles twitch. To help reduce the pain, I began to imagine that the needles brought healing energy into my muscles. This helped the rest of the tattoo go smoothly.

To say a word about the car accident, it’s the only accident I’ve ever been in where I wasn’t in my own vehicle. The vehicle I was driving that day was Mark’s. Mark was a very important man in my life, about twenty years ago. When I was married to my first husband, Dave, Mark was the man who treated me like a husband should. I’m not proud to say I cheated on my first husband, but I married young and made mistakes. Not to mention, I never felt like Mark was the mistake. He is a wonderful person, and unfortunately, I was the villain in this piece. I took him entirely for granted, I didn’t treat him as he deserved, and eventually he moved on. I realized too late what a douche I had been, and I tried to make up for my crimes but much, much too late. I have regretted it ever since. I’ve always wanted to apologize and make it up to him, but he ejected me from his life and distanced himself as far as he could. The only way I could ‘make it up’ was by respecting his wish to leave him the hell alone.

Back to present day, I did my reading last night at Village Books with the other authors, and it was great. One author sent me a friend request over FaceBook after the event, and when I approved it, the first person on the “People you may know” list was Mark’s wife, Amy. This has never happened before, in all the years I’ve had a FaceBook. Out of a strange sense of curiosity (I’ve never looked for their FaceBooks before, what with leaving them alone) I clicked her link, and saw a few photos of her. Naturally there were links to Mark’s FaceBook, and I clicked on one. His FB is sewn up very tightly, with few public posts at all, but I saw something marvelous nonetheless. He was cuddling with his newborn daughter on his profile picture.

The only thing in life Mark ever wanted to be was a father, and I couldn’t give that to him. Sadly, I didn’t think Amy could either. I’d run into her at a mutual friend’s wedding five years ago, and she was ill. She had the kind of debilitating disease that I can’t imagine living with. And I was sad for Mark. He was taking care of his wife, just like he would in that situation, but I didn’t think he’d ever have the one thing he wanted most in his life.

I don’t know if the baby is adopted, or if she’s his. I don’t know if she’s Amy’s baby or not. I really don’t care. I saw Mark happy. In his picture, he is the heart of contentedness.

Something inside me uncoiled in that moment. Some knot I had forgotten I carried around with me, some piece that burdened me with the thought that the damage I had done to his life was everlasting.

In that moment, I felt that he’s going to live happily ever after.

None of that will ever matter to him. He’s got his daughter, and his wife, and his life, and he will never know that I am happy for him.

On the other hand, I got my closure, which I had given up hope of ever finding.

Which was far more healing than I expected when I decided to get the symbol of life, death, and rebirth etched in ink on my shoulder.

Freshly minted 10/12/13