When I started to hit the gym in the early morning, I quickly found the regulars. There are the two white guys – one tall and lanky, the other a bit shorter and less blonde – who both deadlift with bad form, the guy in his 40s with the mustache, and the other mustached guy with the huge biceps and little legs. People watching at the gym escalated from curious peeking into a creepy, secret pastime. But it was the older, anorexic woman who became my barometer of normalcy. At first, I was concerned and alarmed that a woman whose thighs were smaller than my forearms was frequenting a gym. “She’s going to snap something,” I used to think. Then I realized she was only showing up to use the Jacuzzi bath, and our mute acknowledgment of the other’s presence in the locker room settled into an awkward routine. I’d even been more worried than I should have been when I hadn’t seen her in over a week.
Months later, I gimped into the locker room and nearly the entire wall of lockers facing the doorway was wide open. It struck me as odd, and I paused for a second; the gym was consistently deserted in the morning, could the gym staff be cleaning? But that didn’t make sense because this was Japan, where things were always orderly. People didn’t leave locker doors wide open, much less entire walls of lockers.
A movement caught my eye then, and I saw my anorexic acquaintance at the end of the row of lockers, slowly opening the next one. She looked in and pulled out a particular hanger – the one she’s apparently been looking for – and returned to her own locker to hang her coat. I stopped pretending that our interactions, however minimal, were any kind of normal at that point.
It’s easy to get caught up in routine, no matter how unhealthy or strange. Repetitive actions are suddenly your new normal, and before you know it, you’re comfortable there. It’s worse when there’s a steady paycheck that pays just enough to keep you glued to your desk, working vacation to vacation. It’s life’s sneaky way of cheating you out of juicing it for all its worth, trading it all in for security and the ability to pay rent.
So, I kicked myself in the ass last week and quit my job.
I wasn’t entirely miserable. I didn’t have a horrific boss, and my coworkers were all nice to me [a favorite paralegal even got me a bouquet of one of my favorite flowers [callas!] when I left]. The work wasn’t hard. I should have been grateful to have a job. But something wasn’t quite right. Unemployment is scary, but I think the thought of doing what I was doing for the rest of my life scared me even more. Integrity can be a bitch like that.
It feels incredibly selfish. I mean, it is pretty selfish. I have no idea what’s next, either. It could be something totally fucking awesome, or homelessness.
Fingers crossed it’s the former [and doesn’t involve first going through the latter].
[This also means I'm available for any freelance writing work. Get in touch if you need a writer!]