A willingness to embrace change is not one of my qualities. I have a tendency to hold onto things a couple beats too long: friends, memories, scenarios, favorite albums, day jobs. Maybe this is weird, but I can remember the layout and primary workspace of everywhere I’ve ever worked. Doing maintenance for part of a summer at Villa Julie College—back before it was Stevenson University—how an older colleague would always shout, “check!” on paydays. The endless basement-level hallways at HP in Camp Hill; collectively gorging on cold pizza at the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader’s Hazleton bureau, which was half of a carpet store; the weird electric tension in the air at the old Baltimore City Paper office; everybody taking to the pool after a long late shift at the Towson Golf & Country Club, the one day a year at SAIC when an older co-worker brought in her collection of vintage hats and we all willingly donned them and allowed ourselves to be photographed.
Unlike my father—who’s been with the same employer for an astonishing 30 years—I’ve pinballed by necessity career-wise; it’s never easy or fun, and my sense of timing is variable at best. But every position leaves an imprint. There’s something lonely and sad about these impressions; they refuse to fade completely, sometimes surfacing in eerily vivid nightmares that recur at random times. That atmosphere of exhilaration and dread that accompanies the last days at a place never fully goes away either, so it’s easy to recognize when it recurs: a weird, anxious tension tinged with raw excitement. I’m feeling it now. Late last week, I set aside three hours and threw myself headlong into my first online job application in years. In the past this exercise felt like a chore, but this time it felt monumental, significant, valedictory; I throbbed with confidence and purpose, drawing parallels between past work experience and the job I hope to qualify for.
My current job was what was available upon arriving in Austin a few years back, and while I’ve been fortunate enough to stay on as a teleworker since returning to Pennsylvania, it’s gradually become clear to me that I’m not meant to stay there. Good things definitely came out of it—a promotion, project management experience, documentation bona fides, connections—but increasingly, I miss people. Not people on conference calls or via instant message or email, but in-person collaborations, handshakes, eye contact, the corny in-jokes endemic to camaraderie, an office that doesn't double as my living room. (I’m not looking forward to bygone work nightmares involving the place where I hang my hat.) That this new opportunity—which surfaced online at the beginning of my job search, which I sure pray is a sign—appears to be a perfect fit for my personal aspirations and aims is a bonus; it’s drastically different than the multi-tasked work I do now, more managerial and promotional. It’s perfect, potentially, and it’s the reason I’m constantly staring at my cell phone, willing it to ring.