It's 2:00 AM, and I just downloaded Eat, Pray, Love for my ebook reader. No, really, I did. I needed that book today. Especially the part where Liz is up at 2:00 AM, making life-changing decisions. No, I'm not going to walk out on my husband- it took me far too long to get used to him, and get him used to me. A good thing shouldn't be given up that easily, especially if it continues being a good thing (and this one is an excellent one).
But there are parts of my life that need to be given up at 2:00 AM. Namely, my library job. It's taken a year-and-a-half of my life. I've loved this job; it was perfect. To start with. Then I learned how to do it, and the perfection wore off. And the last few months have been, well, to put it bluntly, mostly a drag. I loved the parts where I got to deal with the customers. I especially loved it when my job was the venue for meeting my neighbours- the people who've lived on my street for as long as I have, and I'd never talked to before. I've also loved the parts when I got to deal with kids, got to read storybooks to preschoolers, be silly with puppets (I do that well, even if I say so myself), bring my guitar and sing "Puff the Magic Dragon" to them, or booktalk "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" and leave the school kids with a cliff hanger just as the sea serpent is about to crush the ship. I've loved recommending Miss Read to the lady who likes gentle romantic fiction, and Ngaio Marsh to the one who prefers Golden Age mysteries. I've thoroughly enjoyed talking about watercolour painting with the art gallery organizer, and about reading skills with the dad who brings in his young boy to encourage his learning.
But then it got lonely. I'm by myself for most of the time. Handing out internet passes to the fruit pickers who came swarming in in the summer got boring; shelving and re-shelving books got tedious; getting stressed about finding the time to reorganize the Junior Fiction became a pain. Even thinking of themes for displays lost its charm, and became yet another "have-to".
So I think it's time to move on. There are other fish to fry- or sauté, boil, bake, or barbeque. And other fish-fryers who could do a better job than I, I think. My customers can do without me. And, what's more important, my kids cannot. The job was wonderful for the time being, but it took me away from my family. When I enjoyed it, it actually benefitted all of us. I was a happier mother, more capable of doing what I needed to do. But now, it's making me a cranky mother, an unavailable mother. I snap at the kids when I come home from work because I'm so tired. I drink too much in order to relax, so when I go to bed I can actually drop off to sleep. I've put on weight from eating too many empty carbohydrates, because I don't have time to cook and eat a proper dinner every night. It's time for a change.
And, just like Elizabeth Gilbert experienced, there's the voice that speaks, clearly and unequivocally:
Go back to bed.