Monday, August 26, 2013

Fast-fading summer

Autumn officially starts in mid-September, but my hallmarks of summer's end are fast approaching. School resumes this week in Burlington. A windfall of deep red skin-split tomatoes bestowed upon me by a friend whose husband grew "more than he knows what do with" fill my fridge. Warm middays. Cool nights. Corduroy.

Summer has discovered she can toddle away. She wriggles in my arms. I hold on just a bit longer.

I pack too much into one weekend. I sit in the sun longer than I had planned. I miss the  ferry from New York to Vermont (and have to wait for the next). I'm playing catch up. I write this blogpost on Monday rather than Sunday.

My weekend in photographs:

A trip to Middlebury

with Christine

where we had a picnic and looked at art

followed by an orange sunset back in Burlington

and a visit with family across the lake the next morning

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Finding the path

I found myself lost in the southern wilds of Vermont yesterday afternoon. To make matters more desperate, my cell phone had died after several hours of snaking around dirt roads and seasonal mountain passes.

My desired destination lay at the end of a little-known mountainside drive named Woodland Path. At the top of that path, my dear friend has a family camp at which she and hers were gathered to celebrate her 28th birthday. 

When she told me to use GPS to find Woodland Path, I had no idea how remote the camp actually was. The area has a verdant ridgy landscape dotted with small towns where business signs tell of wholesome work—Vermont Weaving School, Artisan Pottery and PYO (pick your own) blueberries. I was enchanted and didn't worry much about missing my estimated arrival time by one hour. 

But my worry rose as the sun began to sink. I worried about never being able to find my way out of these uninhabited roads. I worried about keeping my friend and her family waiting for me on her birthday dinner. 

Just before true panic set in, I saw a man walking along the road. He was outfitted like a wholesome Vermonter in Carhart cargoes, Keen sandals and a ponytail threaded through the back of his baseball cap.

I pulled up and asked directions, which he happened to know. A miracle in itself, he told me, because most locals aren't even aware of the subdivision. It just so happened that this man's drum repair guy lived on Woodland Path too. The man patiently gave me directions twice, once with me repeating and the second time while I took notes having realized that it was far too complicated to remember. 

As it turned out, I was about twelve miles from where I needed to be. I arrived shortly before sunset, just as my friend and her father headed down their long driveway to search for me. We almost hit each other.

I had missed the appetizer course, but was in time for the artisanal cheeses, a big glass of wine and the lobster and clam boil.

After dinner, my friend and I soaked in the hot-tub, made from a animal trough outfitted with a wood stove. The stars twinkled and the crescent moon hung high in the dark blue sky. It's a strange thing to go so quickly from being utterly lost to feeling like there is nowhere else you could possibly wish to be.

Oh yes, and I took my job back. That feels right too.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Thrown off, and getting back up

I lost my job in a round of company-wide layoffs two weeks ago.

It happened on the one month anniversary of starting the job as a story editor. On that day, I arrived at work with coffee in one hand and lunch in the other, ready to dig into the news flow. But something was amiss. People were visibly upset.

As I fired up my computer, my boss approached me and ushered me down the hallway to a conference room where woman from the company's human resources department informed me that she was there to speak with me about my unemployment benefits. 

As she talked me through a packet of instructions for laid off employees, I started silently crying. I felt shocked, but strangely calm. 

I asked the woman if all the information she was telling me could be found in the packet, and she said that it could. I then told her that at that moment I couldn't absorb what she was saying, and I would read the packet on my own time. 

I left the room with my boss, and he stopped in the hallway to apologize, adding that he never would have brought me out to Vermont had he known that layoffs were coming. I said that I believed him and asked him to get my purse. I needed to go for a walk.

He got it, and I left the building. I bumped into one of the reporters who had not lost her job but looked totally deflated and stunned. As we chatted for a minute, two other editors came outside to find me. We gave each other teary hugs, and I left to walk in the park and call my family.

The rest of the day was difficult, the kind of experience that allows you to prove that you are gracious, strong and resilient. A test of sorts. I returned to the newsroom said some more teary goodbyes, packed up my things and headed across Lake Champlain where I met with a dear friend for a few glasses of wine at the Essex Inn. Then I headed to my Uncle Louis and Aunt Jani's home for dinner and another glass of wine.

As the tipsiness wore off, exhaustion took over. I went to bed, but couldn't sleep due to a splitting stress headache. I was up most of the night sobbing my despair into the pillow. 

The next day, I rose early and set about my usual morning routines of stretching and checking my email. I still couldn't bring myself write in my journal, but I was moving forward nonetheless and continued to do so. Louis and I went for coffee at the nearby bakery and I spent the afternoon setting up my unemployment and going for a long walk.

Each day, I felt a bit stronger. I got back hopeful responses to some jobs I'd applied for. I went back to Vermont for a few days and got together for drinks with some of my former coworkers. I embraced the unknown.

Exactly one week after the layoff, I was contacted by my old boss. The other editor had stepped down and he wanted to offer me my job back (with a few different responsibilities).  I've taken the weekend to think about it. I've tried to relax and let the answer come to me. I know that I like living in Vermont. I know that I still want to be in the news business. I know that the salary I made will allow me to save so that I can feel comfortable and safe. 

I'm supposed to tell my decision to my boss tomorrow morning. I haven't made up my mind yet, but, in the meantime, I'm baking a blackberry-peach crisp to take to dinner a party this evening. 

The crisp