The past six months have been an unprecedented time of change and transition for me. We moved to SF in June, I quit my job in September, and then put my intensive job search on hold when Susan suddenly passed away. I’m taking time to slowly figure things out since a) the most constant person in my life is no longer here and my life has thus been turned upside down, and b) I have no idea what I want to do professionally, except that I know I don’t want to see 150+ teenagers on a daily basis. I feel fortunate for this time of limbo – I’ve never really not known what I wanted to do next, and I’ve definitely never been able to take this kind of time off of work (after all, I am the gal who worked as a “sandwich artist” at a gas-station Subway after earning my UC Berkeley degree). Thank goodness for my amazingly supportive husband and spousal health benefits.
To buy myself some time before having to find a full time job, and to have distractions that force me out of the house, I got a part-time retail job, just like my high school days. Thankfully, minimum wage is higher in San Francisco, and I am able to fully appreciate how EASY this job is, compared to teaching. Granted, there are tough moments, like when one of Susan’s UCSF ICU nurses came in as a customer and I had to relay the news of her passing. Not bursting into tears on the sales floor was a challenge. Or when customers in the fitting rooms tell me their name is Susan and I have to say “Hi Susan, my name is Carol.” Saying our two names together aloud sharply echoes the emptiness of my heart. Since part time minimum wage obviously brings home nothing close to the dual income we depended on when we rented our apartment, I’ve been trying to supplement it with other jobs (if you know anyone who needs a reading/writing tutor, let me know). So, for the first time in my life, last weekend, I babysat. Not pet-sat, but actual baby-sat. Most people know that as much as I love four legged “babies,” I am quite nervous about the two-legged variety. Thankfully, it was much less scary than I feared it would be. And unexpectedly, I found I have much in common with this 8-month-old charge. After about an hour of sleep, she woke up, looked around, realized the person she wanted wasn’t there, and burst into unbridled screaming and crying until sheer exhaustion finally put her back to sleep. So bring on the baby-sitting – the experience actually made me feel surprisingly normal, and understood.