I’m perched on a higher table at a Starbucks inside a Barnes & Noble.
Wait. That makes it sound like I’m poised on top of the table, ready to strike out at the old lady checking out Moleskines in front of me. Forgive me; I haven’t done this in a while.
I’m sitting at a taller table in a Starbucks wrapped inside a Barnes & Noble, overlooking a couple women in Hawaiian shirts who are pacing up and down the main aisle looking for specific people to give name tags and adorn with leis. I have no idea what’s going on with that; only that–in intentional J. Alfred Prufrockian fashion–I do not think they have a lei for me.
The strangest part of it all is that I’m currently outside Grand Rapids, Michigan. And that I now live here.
I’ve been looking for new freedoms for some time: to move out from under my parents’ roof, forge my own path and leave a job whose flexibilities were bending me over backward more often than I liked. The problem with trying to find a new job to move to, however, is that most places are understandably hesitant to extend a chance to someone “foreign” when they have capable people living right next to them. Almost 3 months ago, however, I finally received a chance from a company here in the Grand Rapids area. Admittedly, the only reason they bothered with me was likely because my cousin also works for the company, but that’s another life lesson: connections are everything.
Grand Rapids is a mixed, religious and overall quaint city, possessing the charm of its hometown president, Gerald Ford.
It has its good sections and bad sections, of course, but luckily I’m in a good apartment complex with a fitness center and access to walking trails. Above all, I have a home in this complex that is mine. Sure, I’m responsible for cleaning it and ensuring it doesn’t catch on fire, but the newfound freedoms far outweigh these responsibilities.
Michigan has also decided that major intersections are not for left-hand turns. You need to drive past it to a designated U-turn area, go back and then turn right. It’s weird, but I can’t say it doesn’t work. I’m sure traffic looks more like a ballet from above Michigan than nearly anywhere else.
Anyway, the plan has been simple: use my new job as the stepping stone and foundation to build a new life, find new friends, love, success, etc. All those things that, when you’re old and looking back with the question of whether you lived life well, pat you reassuring on the back and say, “Yeah. Not bad, pal. Now hurry up: it’s bingo and mashed prunes night!”
Unfortunately, I didn’t expect that my stepping stone would be the first thing to grow unstable. I was hired on as a temp with several others in an apparent work force boom. We were to work for 3 months, then they would decide whether they would hire us on fully. It was generally implied that we were shoe-ins, and we did perform admirably–they even said as such when they told us yesterday they’re going to keep us on as temps. It seems somewhere within the 3 months between our hiring and the present, the company as a whole decided it should experiment with localizing our departments, meaning spreading people away from Grand Rapids. We were offered the chance for position openings in San Francisco and New York City, but even if I wanted to go to these places, the 1-year contract on my apartment tells me no.
So I’m still working, which I am definitely thankful for, but the added security of benefits, insurance, retirement plans, paid time off and bonuses that I was so earnestly working for I will now not be receiving. It’s be in a precarious position (a near panic, actually) that I may have placed all my eggs in one basket–and then set this basket on the Titanic.
I will continue working, and do my best, but all wisdom says to be looking for another job in the meantime; for while there’s a chance things will work out and they will fully hire me in the future, they also have the right to cut my strings at any time and send me out without so much as a farewell wave. Please note that I don’t really blame the company or anyone I work with for this. I’ve actually gotten along with my co-workers well, but falling complacent with your position as a temp can be very costly. Hey, that sounds like a pretty good metaphor for life itself, actually. I’ll see if I can register that.
Within all the uncertainty, however, there’s this seed of a thrill. For once I’ve placed myself in a position where I have to make things work no matter what. If I’m cut from my current job, I do at least have a temp agency to fall back on, and I’m still living somewhere with so much more opportunity than where I previously lived. Even if it’s not the biggest, it’s a city, and I may finally find The Right Things here.
And even if that all fails, through the tiniest graces I have never had a better opportunity to play this clip:
If you have any advice, I would certainly love to hear it. And you know what? Updating this blog after so long has felt good. Doing it here in B&N on a Saturday with a Green Tea Latte also feels good. I think I’ll start doing this weekly. Just, you know, probably with fewer humongous life updates.