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Try the Window-A short story
Ugh...it was going to be one of those days... Her head was pounding. She hated waking up with a headache. What caused it this time? She wracked her hurting brain...was it something she ate or drank yesterday? Was it the smoke from the forest fire just north of her subdivision? Was it the added stress of looking for a job...again. Bingo! That was probably it. She figured since she had not eaten anything out of the ordinary or had any wine with dinner that she could rule out that headache avenue, and while the smoke certainly didn't help, she hadn't been outside except for working in the garden and taking a short walk so she couldn't really consider it the main culprit either.
She pulled herself groggily from bed and just the act of sitting up was excruciating but it was encouraging to note that her stomach was feeling ok. Yep, not a food headache this time...just stress. She headed into the kitchen to seek relief. On the way she was met by one of her two cats...rubbing and mewing for breakfast. "Yes, Sheba I will get you something to eat. Oh so friendly today...I love you too". Sheba rubbed against her legs as if to say "I am sooo happy to see you...I am sooo hungry". OOOh! Shooting pain as she bent over to scratch behind her ears. She got a can of cat food from the closet, opened it and put half in Sheba's bowl...the other half she reserved for Enya her other cat. Then she was able to attend to her needs. She poured a glass of milk, tipped out 2 pain pills into her hand, popped them into her mouth and took a drink of her milk to wash them down. Next she grabbed a comfort pack from the freezer and headed to the couch.
Aaah...there is nothing better than a cold pack for a headache...until the meds kicked in. She sipped on her glass of milk and thought it was good she did not need to be out of the house early today. Ironically, that was one upside to not having a job. She chuckled and said to herself "that's one way to look at it". She closed her eyes and tried to relax and give the meds time to work. Sheba finished her meal and came to sit beside her and clean. As she relaxed she reflected on her current situation...
Just two short months ago she was working as an online instructor. Each day was filled with grading and phone calls, online chats with her fellow teachers, online meetings. It had been so cool to connect with students one on one...get to know them and their families and feel like she was making a difference in their education and their lives. Working from home meant no commute to work and she could work in her pajamas if she wanted. Organizing her day had become something she could control...it had been a beautiful situation. Then she had gotten that call on the afternoon of Mar 28. She shuddered as she replayed the call in her mind. "Your position here has been eliminated and you are separated from our employ effective immediately". And just like that she was out of a job. She was one of several dozen employees let go that day. There had been a severance and she had taken it, but that was running out now. Probably why she was feeling the stress so much today. That day a door had closed and she had yet to find another door to open. She recalled that her mom had a variation on that saying...she had said that when a door closes you may need to try a window.
The pain was easing and she drifted into a light sleep. She was 8 years old and had just gotten home from school. Her dad was standing outside their quarters in where they lived on the Army base in Schweinfurt, Germany. "Get in the car. It's time to go." her dad told her. Mom had her littlest sister DJ in her arms and she saw that her other sisters were already in the car.
"Where are we going?" she asked.
"We are moving to new quarters in Wiesbaden. Your dad has been transferred." mom informed her.
"Can I go say good bye to my friends? They are right down the street."
"No time." her dad replied. "Get into the car now."
She did as she was told, but then as she saw the direction they were driving she asked "Can I roll down my window and say goodbye?"
Mom gave permission and her dad slowed down just long enough for her to shout goodbye and wave at Jonn and Sara. "I won't ever see them again, will I?" she said as she turned back around in her seat.
"Probably not", said mom. "You will make friends when we get to our new quarters."
Her head hurt and she could not swallow. Something was in her mouth. She looked up and saw her teacher standing over her. "Caryn, you scared me!" "You just passed out and began shaking". "Do you know where you are? Do you remember anything?"
She had stayed after school to help her favorite teacher straighten up around the classroom with her best friend Genny. They had been clapping the erasers when Genny had thrown one at her and gotten chalk dust all over her uniform. She had chased Genny into the classroom and around the desks, laughing and trying to hit her with the eraser in her hand. Then she had stubbed her toe into one of the desks...hard. It had hurt a lot, and she had hopped up and down while still trying to catch her friend. Then she had felt dizzy and it seemed like a black curtain was falling in front of her eyes.... "I am in your classroom, right? Where is Genny? Is she ok?
"Genny's mom already came and picked her up. Your mom is on the way. I don't think you should walk home today. I am not sure it is a good idea for you to stay after school to help either...you really scared me today."
She was sitting on the bed in their small two room apartment. It was New Years day. Dwayne had just told her that he had been sleeping around on her and had been trying to find a way to tell her that he did not want a family with her. They talked for quite a while and realized that their ideas about marriage and family were very different...that their goals for their relationship were not compatible...and that the best thing was to get a divorce. What a way to start the new year. She was sad and relieved at the same time. She had been having a bad feeling about their relationship for a while now. She had thought something was wrong with her.
Then she was at her parent's house and her mom was consoling her. "If you both think this is best then it probably is...there are no children involved and that is good."
She asked her mom "What do I do now? I am going to be single again."
"We do not always understand all of the changes that come our way. Sometimes things happen that just knock us down and we wonder how we are going to get up again. Sometimes life just isn't fair"
"Gee mom this is so comforting she joked...still a bit in shock." "I feel like my life is ending." Her mom just hugged her.
"You know" her mom replied, "I know it is hard for you to see right now and definitely a part of your life is ending, but when a door closes on a chapter in your life look for another door to open, and if it doesn't open right away, try a window."
She had just gotten home with Blake after picking him up at the babysitters. She checked the mail and opened a card from her mom. There was a check for $125 and a note "Here is the money from the sale of the air conditioner from your apartment. Thought you could use the extra cash. Call when you get a chance. Mom". She started crying. The check could not have come at a better time. It was exactly the amount she needed to pay her doctor bill and until that moment she had no idea where she would come up with the extra money...
She jerked awake. Enya was meowing at the door. When she sat up she was pleased to realize her headache had abated and was just a dull ache. She could handle that. She opened the front door and collected the newspaper. Enya followed her into the kitchen where she put the other half of the cat food into her bowl. Time for some coffee, a little fruit and to check out the headlines. Then she needed to get some things done for the day.
Caryn had filled out application after application for online instructor positions, adjunct positions and she had kept an eye out for any open positions in the county or private schools in the area. She had certainly been looking for another door to open for her. That's what was so frustrating. It seemed this was the worst time of year in a depressed economy to be out of a job...as a teacher particularly. Her job had been stressful as all jobs can be, but there had been a paycheck attached. Jumping through the hoops needed to secure her unemployment compensation had not been fun, but she was certainly glad to be getting something. One application had netted her a very temporary, part time position at a local college. It sounded like fun, but she would definitely need to keep looking for something a bit more permanent and full time.
Maybe a walk would be good this morning. A chance to get some blood flowing to her brain and clear her head so she could concentrate on the lesson plans for the Summer Camp sessions she had gotten hired to do. Then maybe a few more applications filled out and sent in. A remnant of a conversation she had many years ago with her mom came to mind..."if a door doesn't open right away...try a window". Yes, the Summer Camp job could put her in contact with other professors on campus. That could be her "window" leading to an open door and a full time position.
Yes, it was going to be one of those days. But she was going to make the best of it and try the window.