Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Moving on...?

The e-mail's subject line read "Moving On...." It was from a work colleague, Roger. I dreaded reading the contents of the e-mail, wholly expecting a goodbye message from another co-worker, who has been laid off. About 100 people at the company have been laid off since December. I really like Roger and my heart sank thinking he had been another victim of corporate downsizing. I pointed my mouse cursor and clicked on Roger's e-mail. "Hi, I'm sure you have already heard, but I just wanted to let you know peronally that I have turn in my resignation and my last day will be April 9th. My new contact information is ...." I sank back down in my chair and stared at the screen. At a time when there is record high unemployment in the state of California and national economic crisis, why would Roger just up and quit?

I yank at the phone and immediately ring his extension to obtain the details. "Hi Roger. I just got your e-mail. No, I did hear you were leaving. I guess I'm out of the loop. So far out of the loop, I didn't know there was a loop! Where are you going?" Roger's chipper voice responds, "I'm leaving Los Angeles. I'm moving to Mendocino County. Bought a bank owned home for 250K. It's a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, overlooking a ridge. I completely changing my profession too. Going to be working in the food and beverage industry. I am so excited!" I quickly google "Mendocino County". It's a county in Northern California, above San Francisco. Population 88,109. I try not to sound too perplexed. "Wow, Mendocino County. That sounds really pastoral. That's a big move." Roger doesn't skip a beat, "Yes, it is pastoral. I needed space. I got tired of living in Los Angeles. I had an opportunity to move north and since the timing was right, I decided to take that opportunity and start a new life. I'm closing on the home which I bought based on photos on the internet, so it's been very stressful. Lots to do in a short period of time."

Ah yes, haven't we all thought about starting a new life? Picking up and moving somewhere different from where we are now. The opportunity to start over again, new job, new home, new friends, new love life, just new. Lots of people I know are dissatisfied with living in a big city. They come here for opportunity and instead find cold callus disconnection. People steaming anonymously past each other, focused on their destinations, steadfastly avoiding eye contact. All they find is concrete, noise, crime and pollution. Relationships are always in question. What can you do for me? Are you my ally or my enemy? Are you going to be my BFF or a casual acquaintance? Are you the love of my life or just Mr. or Mrs. right now? Are you lifting me up or shoving me down the corporate chain? Yes, moving to a small town in a pastoral, sparsely populated county sounds very appealing, doesn't it? It's like shedding an old uncomfortable, complicated life and trying on a new, stripped down one. It feels a lot lighter.

Perhaps in this economic down turn, with layoffs and corporate reshuffling, people are being forced to reexamine their current state of existence. Instead of seeing this as a time of crisis, instead it is a moment of opportunity. History had proven that strife and hardship are the catalysts for change. Before every major shift, humans have become uncomfortable with their current circumstances. When all needs are being met, people seem to be lulled into a state of complacency. When needs are lacking, and people become uncomfortable, then they are motivated to produce a change. They strive for a better existence. Sometimes it's a group effort akin to the American or French Revolution, and other times it's a very personal revolution, like Roger's.

I admire people who can pick up and move somewhere unknown. As a native Los Angeleno, I have never lived anywhere outside a 15 mile radius. I have actually lived at only 3 addresses, my parents' home, my first single girl apt. and my current residence. My lack of moving experience is rare in a city as hugely populated as Los Angeles. I have met people who have moved here from all over the planet. I quietly marvel at their bravery in moving from Chicago, New Jersey, London and Tunsia! My goodness, I think, they have left everything behind, their family and friends, to start something new in a strange, foreign metropolis. Sometimes it's not even the distance that one travels, people surprise me for how they have radically changed professions too. From ballet dancer to nurse, from lawyer to nature photographer, from actor to police officer, from high power stock broker to stay at home mother of three. So Roger, I wish you the best in your big move up north. It's time for you to take a leap, in search of a better life. Your own personal revolution. Moving on indeed.

Copyright Romy Schneider 2009. All Right Reserved.

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