Something After Nothing

FullSizeRender-5It’s true, I’m employed again. News of my new job leaked out in October, leaving in its wake a whistling void where once I sprinkled words about nothing in particular, set down whole paragraphs to traipse aimless as children in meadows in springtime. Hence these busy months of silence.

I am once again receiving a salary for something I like and do well, which is enough to make my eyes startle open in the middle of the night. Me? This? As if it is someone’s idea of a prank, paying me to do something I enjoy and feel proud of.

The next surprise: it’s nice to be back. I’m enjoying a busier routine and sense of purpose. I like my new colleagues and the work itself: writing and editing medical news. I like the way it nudges my brain into dusty rooms I’d toyed with sealing shut.

Shifting uncomfortably in my airplane seat for the red-eye flight from Vancouver to New York feels like settling into an old and familiar sofa. I have to dress differently again, and am trying to curb my swearing. When I walk the three blocks from my Upper East Side hotel to my new offices on 59th, my eyes drift upwards, tracing the seams of the high-rises. It’s hard not to feel dumbfounded by the swirl of things, by where I’ve landed, even though I know it was hard work that got me here. That is, back when I worked.

The thing is figuring out how to keep a few strings tied to the last 12 months, to still be the person who quit her old job in a huff and spent a year doing exactly what she wanted, even when it was lonely and seemed pointless and indulgent. The woman who got up each day and forced herself to write, to conjure something out of nothing and make it sing. I wanted to take a year to write a book, to wonder and wander, and I did all that. If nothing ever comes of it, at least I did them, these things I’ve always said I’d do. It is trite but true that trying and failing—if it comes to that—are a hundred times better than never having tried.