A sensation blows in like an icy breath in your face, but under your skin. It collects and rises, seats itself somewhere near the top of your skull and just sets there like pins and needles as you try to take it all in.
Dread plummets somewhere inside you and you realize that, more than suddenly, instantly, everything you thought you’d be doing today, this week this hour, and maybe for the rest of your life, isn’t going to look anything like you thought it would. You try to frame it, gain some sense of why. Was it you? Was it money? You need to know, so you can…what? Judge yourself? Judge them?
A sense of loss. It’s over, without a breath of warning. And your life changes.
Why did it have to be so instant? Six years of patterns, contacts, relationships, yet somehow I deserved no warning, but apparently I deserved the security guy hovering in the background.
It’s policy. That’s how they do it now.
But here? Really? To me? Like they never knew me? Or even liked me? Like they caught me watching porn or gambling on the work computer or something?
Too many Hidden City games? Was that it? Yesterday’s tiff with the finance gal? (We’re always having tiffs. Well…not anymore, small blessing).
They escorted me off the premises like a criminal, but there was no trial, or even a reason given. I was assigned a “transition agent,” grey hair, black coat, felt like a straight-backed Nazi, with about as much right to counsel me in my pain as a taxi driver.
I don’t know you. You don’t know me.
I am offered a cab home, like an obnoxious drunk.
Feels like the bum’s rush, I say.
No, I will walk out of here on my own two feet, thank you.
All the way to the train. In the melting snow. Was the wind blowing? I don’t remember.
I make it to the corner, and realize I didn’t’ even get to say goodbye to my friends. I phone one and say what happened. And suddenly, instantly, the tears come.
“I feel like I’ve been kicked out of my home,” I wail. No need for pretense here.
Suddenly, instantly, my social circle feels UK distant, and the wireless in wartime is the only link.
Nazi coat phones later: How am I doing? Did I read the package?
Absolutely fine, I say, with amazing cheerfulness. Stupid wench.
I may have reached the anger phase of grieving.
Really? she asks, appropriately amazed in her turn. Every pleasantry would be a lie, so I don’t answer. “No” would be the answer, “but you don’t rate enough to know that.”
Package. Cabs. Transition agents. This is how they appease themselves and their dirty consciences, because they know when they have lapsed in kindness, when they are cold, treating a person as less than human, withholding from a human that needs frames and reasons, and respect.
I climb aboard the train that I won’t need to take anymore, and I have nowhere I need to be. Snap. There goes a routine, a comforting ritual, a stabilizing pattern. I cry. I stop crying. I ride all the way to the northeast.
I text three key people.
They get to know.
I cry again.
Somewhere between the tears and the moving scenery, on the very first leg even, I start to form a list. For my next job. No more than 6 ours a day; more time for the young one and a chance to build the writing career. Benefits, because those are nice. Creative involvement, because I know what I can take and what I can’t, though I tired.
I am so done with corporate. Soulless bastards with protocol and cash their only awareness, their wiring made up of policies and suits.
Yep. Anger stage.
Can they see through my eyes to young one’s face and feel what it will be like to tell her no tuition? No, they have policy-ed themselves to a safe, sanitized distance. They don’t have to feel the dread, the frost, the shock, the tears, knowing they did it.
On the train, there was a strange disorienting lightness, and a faint but honest sense that when the sorrow washed through, I was wide open for new possibilities. I started to think how I might spend that “package.”
Not now. Smart enough to know this was not a deciding day. This was an absorb-and-feel day. A “let the snow blow through you” day.
iPhone or iPod. New writing computer that has a functional “h.” Pay off debts all in one breathless chunk. Boom. Hold my head up above the poverty line for at least six months. Hold my head up…Tears. The building crumbles. How will I… How will I…
Was it my fault? Was it money? Without knowing, shame feeds on me. I’m not so perfect as to be without fault. Without blame.
Spiral. I stand winged at the aerial gate, but do I deserve to fly, having failed here?
A friend texts me to remind me of one time when I did do good, for sure. So there’s that.
How do we read the sudden, instant circumstances? How do we scry the unknown future, inquiring of the past?
Did I deserve this?
Do I suck, or does God believe in my writing this much? So much that He knew I needed a boot out of the comfort zone to really get things done?
Are these the real questions?
I ride the train all the way to the northwest, and then all the way south and home.
The real question, when all the chess pieces are flying, when the frost blows in and the train takes you from suddenly to instantly, is: “Father, do you love me?”