Losing my job was a momentous turning point in my life. It taught me how to fail, and how to rise. It taught me how keep hope when despair would be so much easier. It taught me how to come together with the one I love, rather than falling apart. It taught me what it means to be afraid, to know what it’s like to wonder if there will still be food at the end of the month, to wonder whether you can afford heat in the winter, to not be able to see a doctor when you need one, to be scorned by those luckier than you because you are struggling.
In the half year I was out of work, I had interviews with four different potential employers. I know for a fact that three of those interviews came about specifically because of my volunteer work.
I never want to forget what it is like to be poor and afraid. I don’t want to forget the desperation I felt. I don’t want to forget that there are millions of people in this state who still need that card to stay fed and housed.
Six months ago, almost to the day, I was ushered into a cramped office and told that my career had just come to a screeching halt. Three of us sat in that small and cluttered space, and two sets of eyes fixed on me, waiting for me to say something. Yesterday, I was brought into another office. Its ceiling, 20 feet above me, was decorated with a mural, underscored by a line of intricate wood moldings that encircled the office. And again, two sets of eyes were on me, wondering what I would say.
To someone who has looked in vain for work month after month, “Get a job” are the words of a bully, sent like a kick in the teeth to someone who is already down.
Back in 2000, when I hired in as a reporter at the Grand Rapids Press, a big to-do was made of the company’s job security policy. A job here is a job for life, I was told. The hell it is, I thought to myself.
It’s been something of a whirlwind here the past couple of days. A lot has been happening in a way I couldn’t have foreseen, and most of it is good stuff. And some of it has me thinking about my old friend Joe Campbell and something he said: “When you follow your bliss… doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else.”
We are no longer friends. We stopped being friends when you said you wanted anyone who supported the Occupy movement to defriend you. I said “As you like” and did as you requested. But ever since then, it has being weighing on me and I would like to tell you why.
Today was a hard day. By hard, I mean it brought me to my knees. It was a one-two slap in the face and a kick of dust to my face once I hit the ground. It hurt. But still, I will get by.
Maybe I’m part delusional, I don’t know. Maybe this is some of the denial I talked about earlier. But either way, I have this deep-seated feeling that everything is going to be OK.