The rain is pouring ferociously, most of the trees already bare, a few stubborn but limp orange and yellow leaves hanging on while the wind pulls at them relentlessly. I am inside my apartment after screwing up the technology of a tele-medical appointment, like the savvy Millenial I am, scrolling through job ads and quietly hissing to myself every time something from Amazon pops up on Indeed.
My current job requires me to do very little thinking. I am more a body for lifting, moving, boxing, scanning, applying, and doing other “ing” things with my physical form rather than thinking, solving, assisting, connecting. I feel lobotomized and extremely sad but I’ve gotten very good at compartmentalizing the sadness. It goes in it’s box during work hours, like kenneling a dog. A job right now is a job. It’s a paycheck. It’s the relief that the little machine at the grocery store check-out says “APPROVED” when I pay for the always-green bananas that take two to three days to become edible and the jasmine rice for weekly curries and beans and tomato sauce and chickpeas.
Victoria feels vicious right now. Over the last few months I’ve had several interviews for everything from glorified secretary work to pouring beer and haven’t gotten a single job offer. Patiently I apply again to other positions, with a cover letter that I hope strikes the perfect tone of professional, just-the-right-amount-of-qualified, and worthwhile for a candidate pool. I wait and try not to get my hopes up too much, just the right amount. Tempering hope is utter alchemy.
I dream about the future. I want out of this noisy building where I can hear my upstairs neighbor go insane, screaming at random hours and pounding unknown surfaces and stomping like she’s partially made of lead. I want a job that doesn’t ask me to wear my body down for minimum wage and asks a small part of my brain to light up, my synapses firing like a neon sign. I want to want to get out of bed. I want to be a good partner, who takes initiative to clean, makes dinner more than once a week, and makes bad days better for both of us. I want to stop wanting, to hibernate like a chorus frog under the ice. What I would give to lie dormant in a frozen pond, not emerging until late spring next year.
I feel the need to do so much less- less hoping, less wanting, less wondering- and so much more insulating, surviving, waiting, using energy in calculating ways like an animal in winter. I suppose in the landscape of my mind there were always pools and creeks that had reserves of resilience, patience, tender blooming forms of hope, that I took for granted to a certain extent. There was always shade to keep them from evaporating- jobs, friends, a working car for a meditative drive, visiting my friends and family, a good boss here and there at work, coworkers who would share a pizza on a long day. Out of necessity and also because of our move to Canada, much of that shade is gone.
Because we all contain multitudes, there are moments where things are okay. Last night I walked home from the cold warehouse in an absolute deluge and my pants were actually dripping water. I turned onto my street, saw the lights on in the apartment, and knew that Logan would be inside. I felt so relieved and happy that he was there, and knew he would think it was funny that my pants were soaking wet and would chastise me for not having a big umbrella and then let me know what we were having for dinner. He did all those things and the familiarity and knowing we share made me feel home. I’m about halfway done with a massive knitting project, an Icelandic peat shawl in a peaceful dark green that reminds me of when I’d press pine needles in my fingers and smell them in the woods. Sometimes at night if it isn’t raining I can hear an great horned owl in a tree somewhere. On the more-and-more rare nice days, we bring a bottle of beer to the sea. I cling to those moments, even though sometimes my world feels so small, brittle, and terrifying. I try to carve out a niche for them to last in, a shrine to my attempts at thriving and forgetting.
It’s been a long time since I’ve written here. I don’t want to linger too much on how shitty almost everything is, because we’re all dealing with it, but I need to express how small and vulnerable I feel all the time. How hopeless the job search seems. How grabbing my keys and walking to work feels like a massive compromise to everything I have ever worked for and a defeat, but also something I just do, because I have to. These are not quitting times. They are trying times.