I have an announcement to make. I’ve decided to move to Knoxville. This decision may seem sudden, but it has actually been a long time in the making. I’ve been trying to figure out how to have more freedom in my job for a while. I don’t want to wake up early, be on call, or commute. We had an extra long break this term because of COVID, so I had more time to recover, but it took me about a month until the aftershocks of being in a constant state of fight or flight finally subsided.
My new job is remote, and full time with benefits is only 25 hours a week. This puts me 9 years ahead of schedule. Maybe I can become minimalist and have more time for sleep, tennis, travel, and Bob.
My physical health hasn’t been good. I’ve been struggling to control my GERD for a while, and in the process of qualifying for surgery I’ve had to do all these tests–pulmonary function, sleep apnea, interstitial lung disease, autoimmune disease, liver and gallbladder imaging. It turns out I need to get both gallbladder and GERD surgery, but I’m glad. Perhaps that will let me be free to play tennis without throwing up. And having a less stressful job will give me more time to play, which is almost impossible to do during the semester.
My gallbladder surgery is on February 12. If you think of me then, maybe you can say a prayer for me.
I’m excited about being near my family. My niece Sadie, the twin to my inner child Sophie, is 14 now. She keeps reminding me of how much she’s growing, despite my wishes. Can you believe I’ll have my learner’s permit next year? That I’ll get to vote in the next election? You told me to stay 5 but I didn’t listen.
My brother and sister-in-law are excited about me being there. They’re planning weekly dinners and vacations together. I’m already in the rotation for picking up Sadie from school. I’m doing Wednesdays.
But I am also sad. I’ve lived in this area for over 20 years. My tennis friends are like my family. I just bought a place that I love in a neighborhood that I love. I’ll miss my clients and my colleagues. I feel like I’m in a constant state of preparing for loss.
But knowing that I will be leaving also motivates me to really take everything in and be fully present–to my friends, my house, my neighborhood, my surroundings–whereas before I was in a passive, foggy state of isolation. When friends tell me that they are sad but happy for me, the COVID fog lifts and I remember that I am not forgotten.
I get why they say freedom isn’t free. There are costs. Fear, uncertainty, loss. You have to be willing to give up everything for it. I’ve spent decades figuring out how to reduce my stress enough to prevent a mental breakdown. It’s time to put myself first.