My relatively-new buddy Erin (over at The Cohen Tribe), who is married to my relatively-old buddy David, taught me this super-fun game. It’s called “Remember When…”, and it goes a little something like this:
Let’s say, for example, that you’re staring up at your ceiling during a thunderstorm as water drip, drip, drips onto your favorite rug. “Remember when our roof leaked?” you ask your partner.
Or after clapping your hands over your ears for two straight hours: “Remember when the baby was teething and inconsolable? Remember that?”
It’s meant to jumpstart the getting-over-it-process. Plus, it’s hilarious. Anyway, I have been using this little device quite frequently over the last few months. Like last Thursday, when I looked over at Jason and said, “Remember 2011? When our dogs ran off and our house burned up and then you lost your job three months to the day after that? Remember?”
Yeah. That was awesome.
My dear Jason, the hardest-working, easiest-going individual I know, lost his job on the last day of September. He wasn’t given a reason beyond “it’s just not working out.” And if by “not working out,” they mean, “Sure, your billable hours are good, and you did win that federal court trial in March as lead counsel, and your articles have appeared in several national publications this year, but we just can’t get over your penchant for bow ties,” then I totally get it.
Otherwise, we’re both kind of stumped.
The panic comes in waves, like nausea. There is simply no way we can cut our household budget to make up for losing 2/3 of our income. Jason has been working his tail off to find another job, but has not had much luck so far. Most firms are looking for baby lawyers that they can pay peanuts, not 10-year trial-experienced attorneys who are used to more substantial compensation.
If this was a normal year, we’d have an emergency fund to get us through 3-6 months. But this has not been an ordinary year. We put 20% down on our house (cha-ching), then put a new roof on it (cha-ching). Since the fire, we have been responsible for 20% of our additional living expenses – rent, utilities, lawn care, additional mileage, etc. (cha-ching, cha-ching). We have not yet been paid for our contents claim, even though we submitted it weeks ago.
I am so very tired of people feeling sorry for me, and yet objectively my life is quite pitiful right now. We have severely curtailed our lifestyle in the hopes that we can make it one more week. October 3 was our anniversary, and we had planned to spend Saturday in Thomasville, wandering around antique stores and eating cheese at Sweet Grass Dairy Market, but we had to cancel. Instead, we took a (free) five-mile hike to the gardens where we got married, and sat by the reflecting pool. There may or may not have been wailing. And/or gnashing of teeth.
This despair is physically exhausting, like an infection you can’t shake. I go over the numbers, again and again. I calculate and re-calculate. I shave dollars here, dollars there. It’s not enough. It’s never enough.
I feel sometimes as though I am being driven mad by it, as though I have been given a riddle with no answer. It feels profoundly unfair.
I am able to get to work, to do my job, to smile and say the right things to people who ask how we’re doing. “Oh, it could be worse,” I say, hollowly. “This happens all the time, the economy’s just terrible.”
I don’t want anyone to worry about me. But I am worried, oh, how I am worried.