Exactly one year ago in Florida, the moon and stars fell into perfect alignment and began leading me to Oklahoma. Matt and I had decided to pursue a long-distance relationship and then I lost my job. I didn’t know it at the time, but as a big believer in preordained paths I can, with all certainty, look back and say to myself, “Ha! How could you not see this happening?”
Last year, the first day of October meant I was conflicted . For the first time in my 21 years of working, I was unemployed. The economy was still spiraling downward and for my employer to be able to balance Florida’s grant funding losses, even just by a smidge, my position had to be discarded. I took it personally and I was angry about it, but it was never a secret to those close to me that I also considered that pink slip to be a means to freedom and to finding something else more fulfilling to do with my working hours.
For a very long time, I never understood the aphorism, “opportunity knocks”, although I completely understood the old adage, “when one door closes, another door opens.” To me, these never meant the same thing. Sometimes bad things happen when that other door opens and I would never consider that an opportunity. I have always thought of opportunities to be good things, whereas opening new doors is just plain inevitable and could result in having to do damage control, which is anything but opportunistic in my book.
(Then again, people call me a pessimist. I prefer the term realist but we can all agree that I am certainly not an optimist!)
However, now things make more sense. Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, I actually took matters of opportunity into my own hands. There was nothing left for me in Florida, not anymore. The man I loved and missed (so much at times it actually hurt) lived so far away and there was only one way to fix that. Once I discovered this and made myself accept it (I’m a sucker for nostalgia and not a big fan of change), I didn’t wait for the hand of opportunity to come knocking on any of my doors. Instead, I used a figurative battering ram on the legal system and surprised the hell out of a lot of people by bidding them all adieu. It’s still not over, this legal brouhaha, but I am also beginning to accept that there is a difference between battles and wars.
It was one of the most terrifying things I have ever done in my life but I get it now. I finally understand how losing my job and closing that door gave me the opportunity to make my own life mine, for once. Of course, I am still adjusting to this life in a state so far away from my family, in a state that actually experiences a change in seasons (!!!), but I would do it all again because I have my own family here, in Oklahoma.
This year, the first day of October means Matt doesn’t have to hop on four airplanes and spend five days traveling all over the Southeastern U.S. just to spend birthdays with Elle and me. It means the three of us don’t have to cram so much celebration into such a short spell of a visit while trying not to think about having to drive him to the airport in Jacksonville so he can go back to work in Oklahoma City. It means the world to me, to all of us – this year’s October – that we can all finally wake up in the same house, because we are a family.