2014: A year of transition.
by Heidi Obermeyer
“This above all: To thine own self be true.” -Shakespeare
Hello, friends. It seems like every time I come back to this space, I feel like I need to explain my most recent lengthy absence from the blogosphere. But then I look back, and it’s been this way for months- brief check-ins, small updates. A few photos here and there. I think about all the things that have happened this year and it feels like none of them are on the blog. A lot of the major events for me weren’t really physical, so there weren’t any pictures.There’s no pictures of the sinking feeling as I got back polite but firm “No Thanks” emails from jobs I had interviewed for in cities all over the place. There’s no pictures of the joy of being around my good friends for a sustained period of time, and the convenience of being able to meet with them whenever I wanted to. There’s no picture of my early morning super shuttle ride to DIA in July, and the surprisingly deep (aren’t they always?) conversation I had with the driver as I left Colorado, unemployed, for Washington. After reviewing all of the serendipitous things that had brought me to that moment, we came to a mutual agreement that the universe had decided it was time for me to go.
I felt an enormous amount of guilt when I left Colorado again in July. My move away from the state felt more permanent this time. I think I had been in denial for the years I had spent abroad, convinced that my desire to be elsewhere was a temporary state of being that would fade away when I finally finished grad school and headed back. Colorado as a place and the memories I have there remained a North star during a time in my life that felt as precarious as it was enjoyable, a time when I was constantly elsewhere.
When I returned from the UK last January, life came back together for me, perhaps too quickly. The first sublet I lived in Denver (the one that I later vacated after two weeks thanks to a roommate debacle I’d rather not go over here) was the only one I contacted. I went to see it on my way back from the airport after returning from England and told the girl on the spot that I was interested. I interviewed for two internships within a week and took one to begin at the end of January. For a week I commuted from Fort Collins to Denver, then signed a lease on a studio in the highlands. I did my best to feel at home, but I still felt torn in many directions. I worked on my thesis in solidarity with friends from grad school from the library at CU, simultaneously feeling hope and dread at the thought of running in to anyone I knew on campus. I hung out with friends from college. I saw my family.
I thought Denver was going to be my next step, but the longer I remained there the more I realized that Boulder was where I wanted to be if I was in Colorado… but that Colorado wasn’t where I wanted to be. It’s a weird feeling to be wrong about what you think you want to do. That hasn’t happened to me very often. It felt like breaking up with someone who’s been good to you. I felt like I was sitting in a living room while Colorado made us a 3-course meal after cleaning the house and buying me flowers, as I eyed the door and felt like a terrible person. “It’s not you, it’s me,” I needed to say.
It’s not that I don’t love Colorado. It’s that I need other things right now. It took all year for me to come to some semblance of peace with that feeling.
During 2014 I applied to jobs. Oh, boy, did I apply to jobs. I interviewed for positions in San Francisco, in New York, in DC. I felt restless and directionless. The months I spent looking for jobs (and the several leading up to graduation, when it always felt unclear if working on my thesis or writing another cover letter was a better use of my time) were filled with a sustained sense of failure and numbed panic punctuated by joy of the best kind.
Bridget and I were discussing this period of our lives the other night, sitting in the glow of our Christmas tree in our cozy house, and she said something about how unemployment required lots of magical thinking. All it takes is one application that works. All you need is one offer. Just one yes. Just one instance where the whole thing comes together.
There’s not really any pictures of my early days in DC- the hours and hours spent hanging out in my claustrophobic sublet room, alternately dripping with sweat after coming in from the sopping heat and freezing from the direct hit of the AC as I filled out more applications that I want to remember.
(At least 71, according to the number of cover letters and resumes saved in my 2014 job applications folder. It sure felt like more.)
I did some enjoyable things with all of my free time (I went to Germany, I hung out with friends, I visited museums in DC) but the whole year was shrouded in the one thing that feels most important when you’re unemployed: finding a job.
I will never forget the day that I got a job in DC. It was the same day that Bridget got a job, and we met at a swanky downtown DC bar for a celebratory happy hour. We were the only people in the joint dressed casually during the after-work hour, and for the first time in ages it didn’t make me feel like a failure. After I got offered the position, I got into the elevator in the building, walked over to Lafayette Park, sat down on a bench in front of the White House in my suit, and cried. The sense of relief was all-encompassing and almost palpable. It sounds so silly to write down now, but at the time I could not have been more relieved.
Since my move to DC and the end of the job hunt, life has improved substantially. It’s been an adjustment to live somewhere new, as it always is, but my first few months here have been made much easier thanks to the friends I already knew in the city. Life in the District has been good. I have places I liked to go. I found a used bookstore that I peruse. There’s good Indian food just down the street. We have a garden at our house that I have big plans for come springtime. I feel like I have room to grow.
In conclusion, 2014 was a remarkable but generally unpleasant experience. Everything that happened this year- including the end-of-December-cold/flu I’m battling as I write this- had to happen to make all the great stuff possible. There were growing pains, and there some wonderful bits in there too. I think my biggest takeaway from this rotation around the sun is that I feel extra ready for 2015. If 2014 was a transition between Point A and Point B, I’m excited to see where and what Point B entails.
2015. I like the sound of it. Let’s do this.