On Starting Over

September 15, 2018

“I was old enough, and I'd messed up enough already, that I just said ..

Photo Credit – Instagram – @markseliger

‘You know, I realize this is a lucky break.  I was unlikely to get another .. and so I made very careful choices in that environment.  Was very determined not to f<> up again'”   ~ Anthony Bourdain

— —

It began in May, with a phone call

All the late nights, the wonderful people I'd worked with along the way, the nearly twenty-year career.  I listen as if eavesdropping on the conversation of someone else, thinking, of course, it couldn't be me who was losing their job.

I was wrong

I fumble through, offer my home address where further instruction was to be sent.  The puppies sit nearby .. wide-eyed as I hang up the phone, put my head in my hands, and begin to cry.

It is not yet 5 pm

I summon all of my courage, call my husband and apologize profusely for what, I'm not sure.  He assures me it's not the end of the world.  People are laid off every day.  We'll be fine.  You'll be fine.  I corral the dogs into the car and go for a drive, stopping at the grocery for avocados, bananas, bread.

A splurge on kombucha for a treat

Back home, I fuss with their leashes and hit the button to open the back door.  The distinct sound of a dense plastic bag rolling, overturning, glass and kombucha exploding onto the driveway below

“What's with today?”  my neighbor asks from across the street

— —

Two weeks later it was my marriage

The look in his eyes as he told me to “Get Out”  The disbelief as he points to the door.  The panic that sets in as I realize that without a job I don't have many options.  The profound anxiety that comes when your home, your refuge, is taken away from you

The sadness and disappointment of not having someone to lean on .. at a time when I needed him most

“But don't you understand?  Life is full of lots of beautiful moments and lots of not-so-beautiful moments,” I say to myself

— —

It doesn't take long before neighbors start to look the other way

A part of me understands because I'm not sure I'd know what to say to someone in my situation either.  Many fitful nights of sleep, the morning-after-feeling when you wake, remembering you're jobless, homeless, marriageless, and nearly friendless

“What's with this summer?”  I say to no one at all

Fireplace @ The Big House – 2007

My first husband and I built a house once, or rather, I should say, my father was the brains behind the entire project and kept it afloat

There was a fireplace in the living room and aside from the big bathtub, it was my favorite spot in the entire house.  I'd searched high and low for the perfect gas insert with a rounded top and a natural looking flame.  It was at least four times over budget and to this day, is one of my favorite things I've ever owned

I was put in charge of installing slate tiles on the front, which were exceptionally heavy.  Every morning I'd wake to discover most had fallen off and I'd have to start again

One of the last times I sat in front of it, was a few days before someone decided to make an offer.  It was late afternoon, maybe early evening.  A few days before Christmas.  My father was standing in the doorway, one shoulder against the frame.  We'd been keeping each other company for weeks fixing odds and ends .. but mostly saying a long goodbye to something we'd both come to love

I was tired and nervous, preoccupied with how much was left to do and how little time there seemed to be.  “This is too hard” I announced, slumping over my thighs

All I could see was my fear of leaving the place I'd called home, afraid of leaving what was familiar, afraid of the unknown, afraid of being a failure

“Well, my dear, you'd better get used to it.  Life is hard.  That's just how it is”  

I looked for the telling smile.  The twinkle in his eye. It wasn't there.  A weird, crackling silence filled the room.  He shoved off the door jamb and busied himself somewhere in the basement

My father was in his young 60s at the time.  He's always been in good health, had yet to retire, and was living in the house that he and my mother completely renovated, one board at a time.  He never once fell apart or ran away when times got tough.  He was happy, in spite of silently dragging along all of the aches and pains and piles of personal garbage that a human accumulates over many decades of living

I've learned it's best to believe him, even if I don't want to.  His words have stayed with me

I wonder at them sometimes, bat them around, tug at them like the hair tie I keep in my pocket.  I always think of him in the midst of Big Life Things: marriage, birth, death, divorce, wayward children, and now job loss.  The moments, when life feels too big to hold all by myself

The times I ask God .. “Why do I have to start over, yet again?  Will I get to be ok?  For how long?”

Photo Credit – Instagram – @corrine_t

After a couple of months, I was offered a new job and moved to an apartment on the eighteenth floor of an old, historic building in downtown Des Moines.  Outside of the year before I married my husband, I haven't lived alone

I can hardly let myself think of the puppies I had to leave behind because most apartments only allow dogs that are little.  Whose cheesy eggs does Harry steal off of their breakfast plate in the mornings?  How is the family of bunnies that Sally always checked on when we were out for our walks?  It's strange not to vacuum twice a day

My two kitties were able to come.  For the better part of a first week, Lucy was beside himself.  Meowing directly into my ear at all hours of the night.  “I know big guy, I wish we could go home too .. ”  

After a couple of weeks now, the strangeness has started to give way to something different.  It's still strange but strangely less awful.  I've made it through all of the moving boxes and started to make the space my own.  My parents came to hang curtains and tackle some IKEA put-together projects.  We celebrated with beers at a local brew-pub.  That was a good day

The apartment has huge windows that let in the most beautiful light.  I'm deathly afraid of heights and it was a number of days before I could even get close to them, but now it's a lot better.  At night, I lay in bed and look out at all of the lights until I'm able to fall asleep

Downtown Des Moines – September 15, 2018

Sometimes I wonder how long it will take to feel better.  My soul feels weary.  Still underwater.  But every day I get out of bed and do my best to create a new normal

A nap.  A bike ride.  An afternoon at the library.  Tea at a new coffee shop.  A walk around the lake.  A phone call to a friend.  Dinner at a new restaurant.  Saturday mornings at the farmers market.  Cautious steps into a new and different life, even in the smallest degree

And this, one of my grandson's favorite jokes that I framed and hung by my bed

— —

Will you remember me in a year?


Will you remember me in a month?


Will you remember me in a week?


Knock knock

Who's there?

See?  You forgot me already!

— —

A whispered prayer that we don't

— —

ps:  Thank-you to everyone who has reached out over the past few months.  I'm humbled by and so very grateful for your kindness.  I've missed writing more than I can say.  Many days my heart was too broken to find words and the energy I did have was directed toward finding a new job

I sincerely hope I have the opportunity to repay you and/or pay it forward one day .. thank-you so very, very much



(Featured image photo credit – Instagram – @bymariandrew)

Filed Under: Life

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  • Reply Pauline September 17, 2018 at 1:47 am

    Being made redundant I can understand,but for a partner to kick you out of the home while this was going on I do not. So sorry for your treatment by him. Stay strong because when one door closes another opens and you have already achieved so much.xxx

  • Reply Surekha September 17, 2018 at 3:32 am

    I was wondering few weeks back thicking I don’t see your feed anymore. I meant to send an email/dm but totoally got distracted. So sorry you had to go through all this. I hope you are doing fine! Sending you hugs and all the positive vibes. Stay strong. You got this
    Ps: You are gifted writer, you should start writing a book

  • Reply Kate September 17, 2018 at 4:11 pm


  • Reply The Panicked Foodie September 18, 2018 at 6:40 pm

    I promise it will get easier. I just went through a similar transition. After a fairly easy life, I had to make the decision to leave my last job to get better, which means I also lost my home. Slowly but surely, I am finding myself and getting a little bit better each day. It’s through tough transitions like these, that you will find your greatest strength. I hope things look up for you soon 🙂

  • Reply Ana Ojha September 20, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    Hi Alison,

    Can’t believe that you had to go through all this! Sending you a hug and prayers. May God gives you all the strength to tackle with your hard circumstances. Always remember, nothing is permanent and these hard times will pass away soon. Stay brave!

    xoxo Ana

  • Reply Elizabeth O September 21, 2018 at 7:17 am

    You have been on my mind a lot and I had wondered where you were…. I am so sorry to read about the challenges and want you to know that I am here for you. Life is full of curve balls and the grace to see us through. Holding you up. Stay blessed and encouraged. <3

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