I loved being unemployed, and I don’t feel guilty saying that, either.
Those wonderful ten months, that endless array of empty days and luxurious naps, those quiet and uninterrupted afternoons, they were an interlude of bliss. The sudden departure from the frenetic pace of the working world was like leaving a loud and crowded holiday house party, and stepping outside into the muffled silence of a night time snowfall, the stillness a balm to ears ringing from clinking glasses, loud conversation and background music.
I had ten months of joy, a palliative interlude during which my life slowed, my needs lessened and my heart soared. Here in my rural valley, far removed from office din, I embraced the joy of nothingness.
My ego loosened its grip, and I recognized that having a professional identity was less important than the freedom to amble at will, and sprawl on a whim. I dressed in old fleece pants and sweatshirts with dinner stains, and I wore these items for days on end. Who cared? Who saw?
When the snow piled on the driveway and decks, it was no matter. Shoveling and clearing paths took time, and I had plenty of it. I stopped mid-task to throw snowballs for the dogs. I swooped huge shovel-loads of snow skyward, and smiled as my tall Lab leapt into the graceful shower of shimmering white. When treacherous conditions plagued the highways and commuting was deemed horrific, I simply lowered myself into the couch with a delicious book. The woodstove popped and snapped, and the dogs snored at my feet.
But now it’s all changed. I stumbled onto a job with wonderful prospects, fine benefits, good pay. Bi-weekly paychecks are auto-deposited into my account. I’m purposefully contributing to my 401k. I’m behind a desk and tapping a keyboard, behaving appropriately and observing office politics.
And yet there’s no joy in Mudville. I pine away for my old life, whiling away the days dressed in a slovenly manner my mother would find disappointing. I miss the freedom, the slowness, the bliss.
I’d enjoy condolences, but I expect none. The world worships the gainfully employed, and that I now am.