Return From a Ten-Year Vacation
What is it like to come back to the same company after a very long sabbatical?
I’ve often thought that my life would make an epic, roller-coaster ride of a novel … for accountants.
So, I took a ten-year vacation. It just seems like such a boring thing to write about, like how I organize my paperclips. But I’ve been asked to share, and so share I will, but not about the vacation part, of course; that would be too fun. I’ll tell you about what it was like to return to work after a ten-year vacation. I’ll try to make it a least a tiny bit epic.
First of all, it was not really a vacation. I quit my highly-paid job to get a doctoral degree in psychology. I remember telling a kid on welfare how much I used to get paid. I don’t remember why I told her that; it seems like a dumb move in hindsight, but I think she asked me. Understandably, she got very upset, angry I think. Her family was struggling to get by and I had walked away from a perfectly good job that could have fed them all many times over, just so that I could provide them with free counseling. I remember feeling so fucking stupid, with this smart little kid telling me how it was. My privilege knows no bounds.
Why I quit is a long story and one that I don’t fully understand. The biggest motivator seems to have been an attempt to escape from inner turmoil, something that it turns out is pretty impossible to escape from. At the time, it seemed like I had a set of insoluble external problems, but I had really just tied myself into a knotty internal ball of neurosis and I needed to take a break from the conundrum. Unlike many people, I was “sitting on a massive pile of cash,” as one of my ex-girlfriends put it, so I had the luxury of taking an indefinite break.
I remember walking down a corridor at my graduate school, talking with an administrator about the expected workload, “I’ll be too busy to be able to work, right?”
“Oh yeah, there will be way too much on your plate for you to work at the same time,” she reassured me. I felt a rush of relief run through my body. The irony of this interaction was totally lost on me. I’m chuckling now because it all seems so funny. I wish I could take a bit of this light-heartedness back to that younger…