My husband is out in the garage waxing a desk for me. The desk was a dump find from over a year ago. After tossing our garbage and separating our recycling, we had spotted an older gentleman unloading a scuffed wooden desk from the back of his pickup truck.
We had offered to help–by taking the desk from him and sliding it top-down into the backseat of our car. I have a weakness for wooden furniture.
We brought it home, pulled up the garage door, and were reminded of my weakness. Wooden tables and chairs in various stages of repair and disrepair stared back at us, accusatory. I had an especially sharp pang of regret when I caught sight of a half-sanded leg from the table I had picked up at the dump and planned on using for an office desk. My husband just sighed, moved a few things around, and tucked the newest member of our furniture family between the kayaks and the lawnmower.
A year later, my decision to quit my job in favor of freelancing necessitated a return to the garage. I needed a desk. Yes, our computer is a laptop, but I did not intend on editing manuscripts 30 hours per week without a desk. I scored a sweet chair and bookshelves from my old office, rearranged our home office to my liking, and left room for the unfinished desk. We mounted a corkboard to the wall, above where the desk will go. We placed a leaf-printed jute rug, in soothing neutrals, between the loveseat and where the desk will go.
In the past two weeks, the desk has been sanded with more tools than I can count (facilitated by more trips to Lowes and WalMart than I care to think about) and stained to a deep brown. It’s not long for the garage now. After the waxing it will sit a day or two before joining me in the office–joining me, the one reclined on the loveseat, feet on the office chair like lady luxurious, books and papers strewn across the jute rug all the way to the bookshelves.
This will be my office.
Yesterday was my last day of work. Yes, I am lucky that I can get health benefits through my husband’s job. Yes, I am grateful that I work in an industry conducive to freelance work. Yes, I am taking a risk here.
For months I have been daydreaming of the wonderful lifestyle I’ll have once I no longer have a commute and can nap in the middle of the day. There will be time for exercise, getting all housework done during the week, cooking healthy family dinners daily.
Right? I will have time for these activities, won’t I? I’ll bike to the farm stand and the library. I’ll get involved at my son’s elementary school. I will write prolifically and edit expertly. I will have plenty of freelance work without begging former coworkers for handouts.
Or maybe I won’t. Maybe life will be a little tougher in some ways, a little more strained. Maybe I’ll be more anxious about finances but less inclined to get off the couch. Maybe I’ll second guess my decision to break free from corporate life.
I read in a local paper today that there is an upcoming networking event, and I realized that might be a good event for me to attend. I can get some business cards made, shake some hands, smile confidently, and tell my fellow networkers, “Hi, I’m Amanda. I’m a freelance editor and writer.” But where is the line between “freelancer” and “unemployed?”
I gave my notice today.
It had been several years since I’d written a resignation letter. I asked my husband to proofread it, and I asked my boss whether I should print it out or just email it. Those four sentences took me over an hour to write, proofread, and reread roughly a million times before emailing to my boss.
Clearly I am not cut out for the corporate world.
In about two and a half weeks, I will be leaving my steady paycheck in favor of freelancing. Leaving a grueling commute in favor of walking my son to and from school. Leaving a cubicle and business casual in favor of a sunlit home office and fluffy slippers.
In my head, it’s been a long time coming. When a high school teacher asked my class to imagine where we thought we would be in 20 years, I envisioned a cracked wooden table, a laptop for writing books, a drafty beach house, a ratty old sweater, and a hearty mug of Earl Grey.
I will get there yet.