Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Last Night's Call

One thing you need to understand about me, my dear reader, is that I’ve never been all that close to my family. I had a pretty complicated upbringing: there were several marriages, separations, and divorces, all of which were sprinkled with the inevitable needs of multiple offspring; there were harsh words exchanged in front of children much too young to know the difference between love and desperation; most (worst?) of all, there was a sense of hopelessness that permeated the air of my youth. In the end, I thought the only thing I could do was flee so that I could one day breathe air that was pure and free. And so I did.

I got a call from my mom last night and all hell broke loose. I planned to have a conversation with her about the Plan sometime next year when things were rolling closer to fruition. But she called me last night with some questions that left me no choice but to spill the beans a little early. I didn’t quite mention the sale of the townhouse or getting rid of all my stuff. THAT might have given her a heart attack. But I did happen to mention that I would be leaving my job sometime next year. Here’s a little taste of what I was facing last night.

Jack is Inconsiderate
“Jack, what do you mean you are going to quit your job next year!??” Why didn’t you tell me about this before? How dare you keep things from me!? How dare you!”

Jack is Insane
“Who the fuck does that!? Are you insane!? Have you been to a doctor? Please tell me that you have been diagnosed with some sort of medical condition? Otherwise, who in their right mind would do such a thing. I mean, it’s crazy! How dare you!”

Jack is Selfish
“Why are you being so selfish!? Don’t you know that I will be retiring soon and the economy is going to shit? You need to think about what you will be doing to your family. How dare you!

Jack is Throwing His Life Away
“Have you thought about all the work you have put into your career? Think about all those nights studying for exams, all the money you spent to pay for school…all that sacrifice will be going down the drain if you do this! You are throwing your life away!! How dare you!”

I kept my cool during the call. I always do. I think it has something to do with the need to maintain control in the face of uncontrollable anger and rage. I guess my childhood was good for something.

But the call did prompt some soul-searching. I mean, seriously:

*Do I not have the right to leave a job that I find unfulfilling?

*Do I not have the right to make decisions about my own life, even if, ultimately, I find that I need to take a different path?

*Do I not have the right to try and be happy the best way I know how?

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