Not having a job kind of makes me feel like I’m cheating at life. I know I’m supposed to be doing things industriously, earning money somewhere, and I’m not. Weird.

It’s well known that the first thing most Americans ask when they meet you is, “So what do you do?” We ‘Mericans tend to define ourselves by our work, figuring that what we do with ourselves all day long eventually becomes who we are. Thus it tends to make people very uncomfortable when you don’t DO anything. Having been a student for so much of my life, employment has usually been more of an enabler to my academic addiction rather than a defining goal in and of itself. I am fully comfortable with slipping in and out of regular employment, tightening my belt when I need to and saving up when I can.

Other people, however, are decidedly less comfortable with such fluidity. So far, the most common immediate reaction to my recent change in employment goes something like, “Oh wow, that’s very admirable of you to quit your job for your family. So… what are you going to do next?” My reply is usually something along the lines of, “Um… nothing?” When even this doesn’t satisfy people, eventually I have to do what I was avoiding all along and drop the “C” word, explaining my dad’s condition and why work doesn’t really seem all that important at this point in my life.

I have to admit though, even I am having some adjustment pains this time around. Having been steadily employed for the past two years now, I keep asking myself what I’m doing next. Maybe I’ll take a class, or find someone to help me design the garden. Ooh, what about doing both? And there’s always the bathrooms, which really need redoing… etc. Today I cleaned the house, all day long, and am now taking a break to write and go running.

Yeah, I’m definitely not one of those people who deals well with inactivity. What a weirdo.

But I am enjoying it. A lot. Not because I’m not working — trust me, I would gladly work every single day for the next year rather than do the job I’ve elected to do. No, I’m enjoying this time because there is nothing better for me right now than solitude, and a lot of it. I can already feel myself starting to heal from the rollercoaster of the past year, and more importantly, gaining at least some of the emotional capital needed to get myself through the one that’s coming. So no matter how many times I have to clean the toilets, or do five loads of laundry, or measure the bathroom walls — it’s all going to be worth it in the end.

And as for what’s next, well… perhaps I’ll just wait for a while to decide, if you don’t mind.