This story may sound like nothing to you. But to me, it was something. A big something. So big, in fact, that it took me 536 posts to finally let it out. I don’t really want to write about it now. But if I don’t, it will irritate me until I do. Thoughts are funny that way.
It happened about five years ago. Now, closer to six. I’m standing outside a supermarket-sized stationery store, about to go in. I stop, and ponder the moment. Wrong. I didn’t stop. The moment made me stop. And, while stopped, I pondered.
The moment was right to make me stop. I was at a turning point. It needed to be appropriately marked.
After thirty years of regular employment, I was no longer working for money. Apparently, show business had a meeting and decided I was done. Nobody wanted me. It was time for me to go.
Hey, it’s their business. They can do whatever they want. And they wanted me unpaid and at home.
I was labeled “out of sync with the marketplace.” Show business doesn’t pay people who are “out of sync with the marketplace.” Or provide them with an office. And a secretary. And their own personal parking space. And unlimited “long distance.” And free lunches at the commissary.
Or this thing.
“This thing” was always part of the arrangement. Not the most valuable part, or even close, but it was automatic. There was always unlimited this. You could use it in the office, you could take it home. Nobody cared. You did studio work at home, you needed “this.” They said “Take as much as you want.” Or at least that was implied.
Now, all that was finished. No more studio “perks.” No more “this.” The arrangement was over. The “this” deal was gone.
Endings are hard. Beginnings? Remember the first day of school? Beginnings are like that. First page of your notebook, you write really neat. It’s a fresh start. You’re hopeful. There’ll be neat writing forever.
Endings mean change. People hate change. Even when it’s for the better. Look at the resistance to health care reform. “You don’t want affordable health care?” “We’ll stick with what we have.” “You ‘have’ terrible health care.” “It’s what we’re used to.”
I had no choice in the matter. The change was externally imposed. I was hurt. I felt lost and alone, adrift on a sea of uncertainty and regret.
Was it my fault? Had I done something wrong? “No. A change in fashion. It’s nothing personal. Leave your key on the desk.”
And now I was here, standing in front of a stationery store, starting a new chapter in my life. Oh, well. Onward and upward.
I took a deep breath, and went inside.
I bought three reams of copy paper for my printer.
I walked up to the cashier,
And for the first time in thirty years…
I had to pay for the paper myself.
The one sign of hope?
I bought three reams of paper.
I guess I thought I still had something to write.
(Author’s Note: To those who wanted to do what I did but it didn’t work out? I’m sorry if this sounds petty. Believe me, it was really big at the time.)