I quit my job yesterday. After five years and nine months at the same place (at 43 yrs of age it’s my longest job), I turned in my notice. I told them back in May that I was going to be leaving, but true to form I waited until the last minute to turn in my notice. In the past when I have left a job it was because I was moving away. It takes a lot to make me leave a job. It is such a pain in the ass to fill out applications, update a résumé, interview, etc. but once in awhile you find a job, maybe not the perfect job, but a job where you feel you belong; and even though you are ready to leave, moving on is still hard.
Dogfish Head Alehouse in Falls Church Virginia is one of those places. It’s just a restaurant. But for the last 5 yrs 9 months, it was my home away from home. It was my connection to a world outside of babies, suburbia, and marriage. It was my ground zero for perpetual youth. I worked with a bunch of 20 something’s and I fit right in! Up until last call anyway; the REAL twenty-something’s headed out for a night of partying while I headed home to my bed in suburbia with my hubby. Before Buzzsaw and before suburbia, I would hang out and enjoy pretending that I fit in to the night life. I really didn’t fit in , and I didn’t really mind. But faces changed and life changed, and somehow, most surprisingly to myself, I changed. What I started wanting most in my life was, can’t believe I’m saying this, was normalcy. I wanted to be able to do family thingies, hang out with our neighbors, make plans for weekends and holiday. For the first time in my life I WANTED a 9-5 ish lifestyle.
I have worked in the military, healthcare, and restaurant service. Not one of those gives you a “tradional” lifestyle. I reveled in it. I don’t want to be “normal”, that’s boring. I don’t want to be responsible, what a pain in the ass! But you know what? Kids don’t give a shit what you want. LIFE doesn’t give a shit what I want. Soooooo, over the last, probably two years, I have been trying to figure out what the hell to do. Can’t get by on one income right now; well we could, and we will, just not much left over, but it had taken me that long to figure what I could do with the skills that I have and still earn a nice income and eventually have the life that I want. That’s a life that no longer deals with “if I’m not working I’m not earning money.” I loved waitressing. I enjoyed the people and the atmosphere. I just didn’t enjoy the sacrifices on my family. I got tired of missing my husband. I got tired of missing bedtime with my kid. I got tired of being TIRED, even when I wasn’t working.
I needed to find something that would be interesting enough to engage me AND give me time to have a family life. So in about two weeks I am going back to school for the third time in my adult life. I will be spending the next year figuring out how to be a paralegal and work in a 9-5ish world. I’m going to have to learn how to think differently, act differently, and even dress differently. Almost as big of a culture shock as when I joined the Navy and left for boot camp 24 years ago.
The thing the sticks with me most is the goodbye.
I was apprehensive about last night. I wasn’t expecting a blow out or anything. I just wanted acknowledgement of the time I had put in there. Restaurants tend to have a HIGH turnover rate, being there almost 6 years is practically a lifetime in serving years. Prior to this job, my time in the military and the time I spent at my last duty station, was the longest time I had spent at one job. That goodbye sucked. It sucked BIG STICKY ASSES and it still hurts sometimes. I was told they (my last duty station in the Navy) were throwing me a goodbye BBQ on the beach on the base. I showed up but nobody else did. The party was cancelled and I wasn’t told. That’s pretty much the shittiest thing you can do to a person. So, even though goodbye hooplas have been made for others who have left Dogfish, I wasn’t holding my breath. I knew it was a bigger deal for me than it was for anyone else. I just wanted acknowledgment. I got it. I got a cake and a song and it was perfect. I got some AMAZING tips ($50 on a $110 tab), a job offer, and I got to see a few faces I hadn’t expected to see ( staff and customers). And the two now ex coworkers who left without even a “see ya”, not really a surprise. A little disappointment, but they never fooled me with their fake-at-work-friendship-only anyway.
Right now I’m not sure what I feel. We, the family, are taking a little vacation next week up to Hershey Pa. And on the 21st of this month I start classes. Limbo just feels really strange. I am going through a really big personal change in my life, but nobody else’s notices. I feel like it should be headline news. But it isn’t. It’s just life. And life is movement and change and chaos and a lot of wtf now? But I feel at peace. And I feel excited. And I feel sad. There is so much I am going to miss about my Dogfish family. So many faces I won’t see everyday. So many jokes and laughter that I will no longer hear so many silly stupid moments in time that I cherish so very much. And so so so many amazing people that I met. I made friendships even when I didn’t mean to. And thanks to Facebook I can keep up with them long after we stop crossing paths. But I will miss the faces. And the beer. And the Caesar salad. And the wings and the ahai tuna. And in a week, they won’t miss me at all. If that long.