The third-worst job I ever had involved a lot of dread.
Dread and anxiety and pressure and deadness and agonizing wishing it would end.
Maybe not as full-of-dread as the Moroccan mafia toy import company, and maybe not as full-of-deadness as the assembly line.
But the former I’ve mostly repressed and it’s gone. And as for the latter, I was too depressed to really be there, so I don’t remember. I mean, of course I remember but it seems like too many lifetimes ago.
No. That lifeless sad sad sad shell-person could not have been me. That is a dream.
But the third-worst job. That was definitely me.
Remembering and not remembering.
The official hours were eight to five. The actual hours were more like eight to seven.
There was one twenty minute break for lunch, during which I was still expected to keep answering the phones.
I guess you could say I was the secretary. Who was also the office manager. Who was also the personal assistant to the CEO. Who was also a bunch of other things.
During the days I was efficient, competent, organized, rushed. Also: screamed at, berated, humiliated, overburdened, unappreciated.
During whatever brief time I was both awake and not at work, I was engaged with trying to remember who I was. And sometimes trying to forget.
Mornings. Evenings. Mornings.
To arrive at work at eight a.m, I had to catch the 6:45 bus to Ramat HaHayal.
The evening bus was much longer. You never knew when it would come, and it took a winding, unbearably slow detour through every town, every neighborhood.
It was a pretty unlikely bus line for a terrorist to target, but terrorists in Israel are notoriously non-strategic and stranger things have happened, and every evening I would think maybe today is the day.
If the bus exploded, I wouldn’t have to go back to work the next day. If I died, at least I never had to go through a day like the one I’d just had.
And if I didn’t, the government would put me on a pension and take care of me. That usually got me through the first half of the ride home.
Home. Not really home. A place with a bed and a narrow space (maybe two feet by five feet) in which to do what I called monk’s yoga.
Monk’s yoga. And the other three.
There were four things that kept me sane.
My boyfriend, who was four years younger than me and whom I loved so much it hurt.
He was getting ready to move to Amsterdam, which hurt more. And he didn’t need me the way I needed him, which hurt even more. A lot of hurt, in short.
In the twenty or so minutes between seeing him and falling asleep halfway through my dinner, I got to see myself through the eyes of someone who thought I was hot and smart and crazy-talented. And that was my salvation.
Writing. I didn’t have time for it but I did it anyway.
Scribbling bits and pieces on post-it notes. Typing up stories on my one day off.
It was probably the only time in my life when I had no problem at all self-defining as a writer.
When I wrote, I had power. I was in flow. My being-here-now had meaning. And that was my salvation.
One day I was going to get out of the deadness, quit the job and get to Berlin.
I got to speak a fair amount of German at work, and remembering each time that one day I would be gone and this would be nothing but a crappy memory was also salvation.
And then there was the monk’s yoga.
Yoga had gotten me through my divorce, through unemployment, through poverty, through unspeakable things. And it was going to get me through this.
I knew that.
And that is why I woke up at an impossibly early hour.
To have fifty sweet minutes with myself and my breath and my body. Not thinking. Just being.
The space I had to move in was so tiny and so cramped that there was a very limited number of poses that could be done in it. Like in a monk’s cell.
I did them all. Slowly. The way the monk would.
And then I maneuvered myself onto my back on the cool tiles. To do nothing for five minutes. It was going to be the most peaceful five minutes of my day, and I knew it.
Then it was over and I was back to multi-tasking: having my first cry of the day while rolling a cigarette and eating a piece of fruit and leaving a note on the door.
Monk’s yoga. Though he probably wouldn’t have cried or had the cigarette. Still, we shared a cell.
Oh, and now we’re here.
There is a reason for all of this:
I met her (I mean, me) again this morning and we had the most … unlikely conversation that I wanted to share with you.
And I did monk’s yoga this morning too and it was delightful.
And there are so many things I want to say and explain and wonder about.
But I’m going to save all of that for a second post.
In the meantime I will just place a magic wand that is also a tuning fork between me and her so that we can bridge the gaps. And I will say this too:
What a beautiful thing it is to be here now, in present time, in this moment, with everything I know and everything I have been.
I separate: that was then, this is now.
And I come back together: We are both writers. We both practice monk’s yoga. Slowly.
And I am so relieved to have reached this time when there is nothing needing to be forgotten.
And comment zen for today ….
We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff.
It’s a process.
We try to meet each other with as much understanding as we can. And we’re also sovereign beings, which means that everyone gets to have his or her own experience.
If you have had difficult jobs or stories to share, or things that have brought you moments of everything-is-better-now, these are welcome. Besos.