Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Upside

Back in the day, before there was a recession, I worked as an operations manager for a radio station. For eight years I wrote commercials, produced them, scheduled them, and hosted the morning show that aired them. I hired people and fired people. I changed out transmitter tubes when they went bad. It was a decent gig. And then the owner sold the station.

The unwritten purpose of any employee is to reduce the owner's debt. Job well done, indeed.

Radio jobs in the area were scarce at the time, and I didn't want to relocate, so I looked elsewhere and found a job manufacturing control boards for heating and air conditioning units made by a company whose name you'd immediately recognize if I told it to you.

Since starting there in early 2006, I've been laid off three times, each within the past two years.

The first time was in May of 2008. It lasted about six weeks. Not really all that big of a deal actually. I got some time off during the summer. Got to swim with the kids, play lots of video games, rock out in Cleveland, and catch up on my reading.

The second time was in February of 2009. That one lasted until just after Independence Day. I played more video games, swam some more, studied harder than usual for my university classes, wrote a rather sunny post about the whole ordeal, and slept in. And I looked for work. Any work.

The third time was not a typical layoff. It came in late August of last year, and this time there would be no recall rights. The ones who had taken voluntary layoffs were coming back, and there would be more people than jobs. Once again they would be taking my badge from me. I went home one night and wrote this:

Home at 2:30 this morning. Finished reading a chapter and turned off the light at 3:00. And instead of grabbing my favorite huggy pillow off the floor and drifting away, I rolled over and embraced my wife.

I caressed her cheek. Brushed the hair from her forehead. Ran my hand down the length of her side and let it rest on the curve of her hip. Felt each shiver. And I thought about things we’ve been through during these 20+ years together . . .

Our firs
t night as husband and wife when, in the early part of the evening of a very long day, we fell asleep on the floor of her grandmother’s cabin. How we held each other so tightly under a handmade quilt, having vowed before a great cloud of witnesses to never let go.

Following the birth of each of our four children. Even when she would have rather been sleeping, or throwing up, we held each other.

At funerals, weddings, and crappy movies.

Effortless embraces that carried the weight when words were used up or out of place. Thousands of times between the first and
this morning. Each one – whether visceral, frisky, or subliminal – a touch, a point of contact between physical presence and myriad circumstances.

Today, I
have to tell her that I’m being laid off. Again. I imagine we’ll hold each other. And, though mixed with tears and worries, it will feel like love. Like an unspoken commitment to make things work. She will bear the emotional brunt upon a backbone made of stuff stronger than steel. And in her embrace I’ll find the courage to get out of bed in the morning.

If I can convince her to let me go . . .

I haven't worked since. And while the math is easy, it isn't pretty: In 2009, I worked only about eleven weeks. The remainder of the year, when not swimming and playing video games and attending classes, I looked for work.

Any work.

I thought about going all funny with this post. Telling you about how I'm starting to drive her and the kids crazy with my lack of hygiene and omnipresence. Or how I watch Dirty Jobs for ideas on what to apply for next.

But it's just not funny anymore.

The Upside? She still hasn't let me go. I will find a job. Regardless, we will continue to hold each other, and make memories that will last. Today is another day to either sulk and stay in bed, or get up and, as some guy in a movie once said, "Get busy living, or get busy dying."

I hope . . .



The Cheek of God

[Flickr photo is by cherwenka and is protected]


Laura said...

The grass is always greener on the other side. I empathise with your situation, especially when you have a family, but I also think you are extremely lucky because of that family! As a single 30 year-old female, who has dreamed all her life of finding someone that will see me in the way you talk of seeing your wife, I would happily trade in my job in exchange for the never-ending embraces of someone who truly loves me. You have each other, you have love... as the Beatles sang - Love is all you need! I know money also makes the world go round, and life becomes a real struggle without a constant income, but I beg to ask the question: What is worse - the struggle we go through without love, or the struggle we go through without money? I may sound like a crazy romantic nutter, but I would rather have the struggle of no job than the struggle of no love. But I sure do wish you all the best in finding a job soon brother!

Another Suburban Mom said...

TD: This was very beautiful. I love the way that you talked about your wife supporting you and you supporting her. My post is going to be more pragmatic, but yours was pure poetry. My post will also be up later today.

TB: Love or money? The eternal question. Having a supportive spouse is important, but money is also important. Would it be wrong to want both.

Unknown said...

That was beautiful.. MIght I ask could you teach my hubby that side of ummm poetry?? I am so blessed that he has retained a job through all of this despite them laying off 200 people at one point and not having all of them back until this past August. Many were gone for nearly a year..

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Your posts are always so moving! I love them! So lucky you write over here. I wish I could pay you guys, you totally deserve it! I wish I could pay you enough that you could just sit and write because you are genius at it!

But you are right! It isn't funny. But the strength you guys have together will get you where you need to be in time. At least you have each other...some people go it alone and like Travel Bug said it's almost worse alone!

Anonymous said...

I cried. You wrote a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing.

Jobs are few and far between. Even those who have amazing qualifications are having problems finding jobs.

I hope you're able to find something soon.

SciFi Dad said...

Great post.

Honest, thoughtful, moving - all things I have come to expect from you.

Also, nice Shawshank use.

Danielle said...

Very, very good and honest post!

OneZenMom said...

This was lovely and touching a nd graceful, as always. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Chief said...

I admire you and your wife. What a wonderful relationship you have that you go to each other when the times are hard.

Beautiful post

Anjeny said...

Beatifully written, tysdaddy. I love what you written about your wife.

I wish you the best on your job search and while you're at it, enjoy those moments you have with your kids and wife.

Kevin McKeever said...

Brian, that was six shades of awesome in one post. Hang in there. It'll happen.

James (SeattleDad) said...

The love you share with your wife through your difficult (which seems like an inadequate word here) time is inspiring. Very well written.

Best of luck in your search.

DGB said...

Really poignant post. Sending good thoughts your way.

JeffJonz said...

Wow. Thanks for the transparent honesty. It's an inspiration to see the kind of love and support you have for each other throughout these many years. Thank you again for sharing.

Adan said...

Great post. Rings very true when I once lost my job and my then girlfriend and now wife held me close on an especially tough day.

Also, next time u r in CLE I need to know. If you though the city was great when you were here, go on a tour w/ a local!

Anonymous said...

Thanks to all of you, for your kind words and encouragement.

TQ: If I'm ever in Cleveland again, you can count on having a house guest . . .

Joanna Cake said...

It's those hugs that hold a marriage together. The glue that makes anything and everything possible. Mutually given and received.

If only I could have made my Husband understand that.

Fabulous post. You are such a perceptive and eloquent man that I cannot believe you will not be snapped up very soon x

I Wonder Wye said...

Good post. I like heart felt stories. As you know, it's easy to love and support one another in good times, it's when it's difficult that the love and support are crucial, but some people fall apart then.....I have the best husband in the world, who supports me emotionally and otherwise when I battle my bouts of surgery with a chronic disease....and I do not want to live without him.

jam said...

your wife is a very lucky woman to be with you. i hope that you find something soon. my husband just became unemployed in january. i try to do little things to make him smile everyday. we'll get through this because we have each other to lean on. plus, i've circled the wagons.

Anonymous said...

Joanna, I Wonder, and Jam - Thank you all for your kind words. Jam, sorry to hear about your husband's situation. Keep encouraging him, and hold him close . . .

Mommy Mo said...

This post hit so close to home.

My husband was told Thursday that his last day will be March 30th (elimination of his job).

This is the second time he is being laid off in two years time.

Thursday night, he came home and told me the news. Thursday night, we held other.

Friday, when I was by myself, I cried my eyes out to be going through this again.

Back in front of him, I reminded him that we've gone through this before and survived and we'll survive this time, too.