A few days ago I was getting ready to take a bath. It was afternoon, actually, as mornings in a drafty English house are too cold for me – I’m like a cat, I hate being either cold or wet. But anyway. Phil knocked on the door and said “I lost my job.” He was sitting on the stairs as though in shock, no surprise there. I turned off the tub and we both sat on the stairs, stunned.
I still feel stunned, and it’s been difficult to work on anything or know how to move forward. We’ve been in a bizarre situation for a couple of years now and it dawns on me that I have been living very much like a ghost, drifting through the remnants of a life. After the beginning of the recession and the demise of Top Sekrit Projekt, I did take another job which turned out so badly that I still feel like someone suffering from PTSD. The environment was so toxic that I wanted to die every single day; I just wanted to go to sleep, fade into darkness and never wake up. I always had to though, even when each Sunday was ruined because my stomach was in knots knowing that Monday was coming. I was broken.
Then I went freelance, and slowly built up a book cover art business – nothing that made any real money, of course, not enough to survive on, but at least I had something that I could say that I did. But I never actually became a real person again, not in any real sense. I barely left the house. I worked through my revised bucket list: I wrote the book I’d always dreamed of writing, and did a few small things. No real dreams, as we were now poor. There was no travel to exotic destinations, no running of the bulls, no survival treks through the desert.
Are you real if no one ever sees you, talks to you? Sometimes it’s difficult to say for sure. Are you real if you don’t feel like a real girl?
NaNoWriMo was a writeoff, and I haven’t written anything since. Too empty. We’re both looking for work, and I’ve been revising our business sites in hopes of either of us picking up freelance work. My technical skills are no longer current, and the thought of competing with 25-year-old boys for development jobs fills me with dread. We’ve discussed selling the house, we’ve talked about going back to the States, but there are no good choices to be made. I just feel empty, as insubstantial as a dust kitty. Drifting.