Dear Former Boss,
When I walked out of your office some months ago, I was determined not to let you see me cry. I packed up my office as quickly as I could — my knickknacks, my notebooks, the framed pictures of my young son.
Other people came in to say goodbye. You left, I think afraid to see me after lowering the boom that six months after you moved me and my son 1,300 miles away from home for this job, I was no longer employed there.
The reason you gave me? It was “hard for me to put a finger on it.”
That’s the exact thing you said — I know because I wrote it down in the notebook I was carrying, scribbling furiously, knowing I would have to make sense of it all later.
It’s a good thing you had the foresight to terminate my employment two days before my probationary period ended (when you didn’t need just cause to fire me) because I’m not sure your reason is actually an actionable offense on my part.
My real offense was being a New Yorker trying to work in the South. I was a 35-year-old from the big city when you were a mid-60s stalwart facing retirement. I didn’t speak the way you did. I didn’t think the way you did. That’s what you couldn’t put your finger on.
I did cry when I got home. For days. I was a single mother to a toddler that had been born 11 weeks premature. I had left a fantastic job in New York that people would have stabbed someone with a stiletto to get.
I had taken a chance on this job, excited that it was something new and different.
Because of you and your fear of someone different, I am happy. I am still down here in the South and I am surrounded by friends.
I am doing what I love — working as a writer, telling other people’s stories. And, for the first time, telling my own stories.
But I am most grateful to you for giving me time with my son. Thanks to you, I was able to see his first dance in the rain. Thanks to you, I was able to see his face light up as he explored a firetruck for the first time. Thanks to you, I was able to watch him, in his little board shorts and swimmies, navigate the kiddie pool for the first time on his own.
And thanks to you, I am able to hold him in my lap and feel his head against my chest and his hand on my knee as we read book after book after book.
I would have missed all of it had I still been reporting to that office next to yours, spending 10 hours a day away from home, doing a job I tried very hard to love but just didn’t.
For the first time in my adult life I am out from behind a desk. I am trying on a new life and I love it.