So here I am. Unemployed. Getting ready to start my own business. New home. New state. New lifestyle (I’m learning how to say “y’all”!). New friends. New church. A whole new life. At 54.
Beginnings are exciting. And stressful. And fun. Beginnings are full of potential – the sky’s the limit when you’re beginning something new.
But before you reach that point where the yellow brick road stretches out before you and your ruby slippers, you first have to say “good-bye” to something. Even Dorothy had to say good-bye to Kansas in order to find Oz. And then she had to say good-bye to her friends in Oz to return home again. Something has to end before something new begins. And many of those good-byes are hard.
Sometimes that ending comes without notice. Like Dorothy in her flying house. Or people facing disasters like storms, earthquakes, fire, and floods.
When that happens, it’s just “BAM!!” Welcome to your new beginning, ready or not. What you had is gone, and you have no choice but to pick up and move forward, my friend.
But many new beginnings are our choice. We realize we’re in the wrong place, and we make the conscious decision to start fresh. Maybe a new job – good-bye to the old one and our co-workers. Maybe a new home – good-bye to the neighborhood and memories. Maybe we start exercising for a new body – good-bye to those bad, yet comfortable, old habits. Maybe we decide to eat differently for better health – good-bye Twinkies. Maybe a new spouse – sorry, I got nothin’ for that one, since I have no intention of doing it, ever. But I suppose it means saying good-bye to a home and memories and dreams.
My new beginning has been a l-o-n-g time coming. The joke is that I’ve had the longest good-bye ever. You know that’s true when people start looking at you and saying “I thought you were gone!”
Our move started almost four years ago, when Hubby and I decided that we wanted to be living full-time in eastern North Carolina. I won’t bore you with all the sordid details, but we put our custom-built “we’ll stay here forever” New York home on the market just as the real estate market collapsed. After dropping the price and switching realtors multiple times, the house finally sold for far less than what we paid for it. During this process, I got a promotion at work, and ended up in the midst of an insanely stressful computer system conversion. I wanted to see the project through to fruition, and frankly, I wanted to collect those paychecks while we renovated our North Carolina house.
So the furniture moved to North Carolina without us last year. We stayed in New York in a small semi-furnished apartment generously rented to us by a good friend. As the weather turned colder, my retired husband took one look at the pending snowflakes, and moved his butt to the fully-furnished and newly-remodeled North Carolina house without me.
My employer eventually agreed to let me try working remotely from North Carolina last spring, with lots of traveling back and forth. It didn’t hurt that they were about to flip the switch on this new computer system and they kinda needed me (timing is everything).
That arrangement was exactly what I’d asked for, and I loved working from home, but it only resulted in stretching out the inevitable. I couldn’t move into my new life because I was firmly anchored in the old one. The first thing my NC neighbors said to me whenever they saw me was “so, are you here for good yet?” And every time, I had to answer “no, I have to go back to NY in a few weeks.”
Finally, my employer mercifully brought my half-here, half-there existence to an end by announcing that they were replacing me, and asking me to train my replacement. Awkward. And painful. Partly because my replacement is going to be good. And that hurts just a little.
New beginnings require good-byes, and those good-byes finally came last week. The warm-hearted good-bye parties, gifts, notes, speeches and astounding expressions of appreciation for what I had accomplished truly humbled me. They also made leaving feel very real. I suddenly wanted to cling desperately to this comforting “old” life where I was paid so well and people liked me and damn, I was good at it!
It was painful and yes, I cried like a baby on the last day. It was messy. I’m a very sloppy crier anyway. Plus I’m smack dab in the middle of menopause, so once the tears started, they just didn’t stop. But you know what? I was leaving a nice life and good people and a great career. It was a good-bye that deserved a few tears.
I’m past that now, and I’m ready to BEGIN. I literally hugged my house when we got home Friday, and did a crazy happy dance in the driveway. My neighbors greeted me warmly. I emptied my suitcases and put them away for hopefully a very long time. I had a great phone conversation with the fabulous friend who’s hopefully about to become a fabulous business partner, and we started making plans for the future.
So farewell, my dear New York friends and family – we’ll stay in touch via this blog, Facebook, Skype, email, and even the old-fashioned way – by phone. And I’ll visit once in a while (after winter passes). But my new life has begun now, and I’m ready to step forward.
It’s a new beginning. Reinventing myself as I approach my 55th birthday. Figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. Starting a new career in a new home in a new state. Risk…and hopefully reward.
The good-byes have been tough, but they’re part of moving forward. And that’s what life is all about. Change is always part of the deal.