"i know what exit means! it means the way out!"
the way my work schedule at the ceramics store played out was that yesterday was my last day. it was long, boring and utterly uneventful, save for the class i taught to one lone pupil who was a ball of untamed energy and had a predilection for not doing as she was instructed, culminating in her socking me in the gut out of some sort of misguided frustration that i wasn't letting her get her way. this meant that when her parents came round to collect her some five minutes later and asked if she'd had fun she said "no" and then they story came out and she choked out a forced apology and i realized i would never have to see this little five year old spun from satan again. earlier, when we had been having something as close to fun as we could muster, she'd proudly told me she knew what exit meant; that it meant the way out. and in the long quiet moments of yesterday afternoon i thought about my own exit, my own way out.
my job history is choppy and colored with unexpected instances of employment interruptus. my first job (not counting babysitting, movie extra work or proofreading for cash) was as a sales clerk at a chain of bargain women's sportswear stores in new york city. i survived the feet-aching christmas, i zipped up the coats as instructed, i tagged and hung and i didn't lean. i took the 28th off for my birthday, and showed up the next day to find out i was being let go; they were overstaffed for the post-holiday season and, since i was last hired, i was first fired.
a few years later i worked my way up through the ranks of a now-defunct chain of deeply discounted book stores. rumors of bankruptcy were brewing as i stepped into the head honcho position at a store in dire need of an overhaul, and within months the doors were being closed, the merchandise liquidated and the jobs eliminated.
next came the brief, but pivotal, stint at an educational supply store. i'm not sure what specifically prompted the higher-ups to decide to close my location, but being as i was one of the more costly assistant managers, and my boyfriend of the time a more costly clerk, we were the first two handed our shipping papers. either that or our fraternization was an issue they didn't want to deal with. i'll never know, but i'll never forget that it was thanksgiving week, and an all-around devastating time.
exactly one year later i came home from a week in toronto to my fabulous job with the los angeles philharmonic. i sipped my routine cup of joe and opened my email, and began to read all of last week's items in the inbox. i wondered why some staff, who'd been with the phil for ten, twenty or more years, were sending out sad goodbye emails, saying how they'd loved their jobs, they were sad to be leaving...twenty minutes later my boss came in uncharacteristically early, with the human resources director in tow, and they told me that last friday, while i was out of town, the organization had wiped out a handful of jobs in order to save costs. that explained the farewell emails, and that also meant i was being shown the door. another exit.
in the following couple of years i made an exit after a short stint as a starbucks barista and a longer and much more dramatic fling as an accounts receivable clerk for a motion picture ad agency. i decided that the tense and often unexpected exits were getting the best of me. and i decided to go back to school.
the next exit, quite possibly the most dramatic and unexpected of them all, was in the summer of 2003, when, as many will recall, i was asked to leave the international headquarters of the ceramics store because of a clash of wills and revenge tactic designed by someone promoted to their level of incompetency and disguised under the veil of my allegedly overusing the internet or, alternatively, of what i wrote on this blog. that exit was abrupt and painful, and my own revenge came frequently, first in my freelance employment as a pinch hitter and teacher in a number of franchised locations, the last being a more permanent gig under kelsey's loving wing, complete with my deployment to the company's annual and regional meetings as the representative delegate and all-around thorn-in-the-side of my antogonizers.
it's really been quite a year, but, like all good and bad things, it must come to its end. and so yesterday i made my last exit from the doors of kelsey's ceramics store. at night the darling housemates and i did away with the old and ushered in the new by completely revamping and redoing our living room, making it, after many years of underuse and dormancy, a room in which we actually want to live. today the delivery folks brought me my brand spanking new pottery barn bed, and next week the mattress and box spring arrive. exit old, enter new.
2004 is making its exit tonight, with the promise and hope and fresh start of 2005 right around its corner. i've made so many exits, not just in general, but in recent history, that it feels about right to be entering a new year. tonight at midnight i know i will be in the company of good people, relaxed in the still unfamilliar feeling of having enough money on which to get by, the means to pay off old debts, the space to inhabit that is warm and welcoming and encourages visits from friends and loved ones and, most importantly, creativity. 2005 is bringing with it my first real publication, the opportunity to work with some of my university's most accomplished and encouraging professors, the possibility of my becoming a college-level english teacher, the continued health and happiness of my family and friends, and, let's hope, a little bit of love...of the self and romantic kind, both.
i know, too, what exit means. sure, sometimes it means leaving, sometimes it means passing through a revolving door, getting the door slammed on your butt, or having to find your way to the next opening in order to move ahead.
so, 2004, take your final bow and exit stage left, and welcome, 2005. we're ready--i'm ready--for your entrance.