Part 2: The Aftermath
Before I made the decision to leave Philadelphia, I decided to try my luck at waiting to see if the lay off was temporary as my employer had suggested [I already knew that it was permanent, but I didn’t want to believe it]. I also decided to continue applying for jobs around the city. I quickly realized that although I was getting interview requests, I was applying for jobs out of desperation and they weren’t jobs that I actually wanted to do. The jobs that I really wanted to apply for required graduate degrees or work experience equivalent to a graduate degree. I didn’t have either, so I was in a tough spot.
I could elect to take a retail job since those were readily available, but after doing some rudimentary calculations, I found that I would be making barely enough money to cover my rent and utilities, let alone having money for groceries, and I would have had to work more than 50 hours per week just to make ends meet. I also briefly considered teaching abroad in Asia. I have five friends who are currently teaching abroad, but after doing research and talking to them, I decided that if I was going to travel abroad it would be to backpack, but not to work. My past behavior tells me that once I got comfortable in a job, I would find reasons not to quit it and I would probably never come back to America.
I had already renewed my lease for another year, I had just bought some new furniture, and I had a few trips lined up. Although I would receive a small unemployment check from my job, I was faced with the reality that I was about to be in serious debt if I didn’t figure out another plan. I finally worked up the nerve to call home and tell my mom that I had lost my job, and the phone call ended up being quite hilarious:
Me: Guess what I got today?
My Mom: What?
Me: A “Pink Slip”!
My Mom: A pink slip? Where did you buy it? What are you going to wear it with?
Me: No, I said a PINK SLIP
My Mom: Was it affordable? Can you get one for me too?
Me: I’m trying to tell you that I just got laid off. I am not talking about clothes.
My Mom: Oh…Why didn’t you just say that?!?…So why don’t you just move home? You can study for your graduate school entry exam and find yourself a job around here.
Me: <Starts having an internal meltdown> Move back home??! NO WAY! I’m I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T!
My Mom: It is no fun to be independent and broke.
Moms always speak the truth, even when you don’t want to hear it, lol. She was right. There was no way I could continue to live in Philadelphia. I had to move back home. I gave myself four weeks to pack up my entire life, book a one way ticket home, and say goodbye to my little group of friends.
I put all of my furniture up for sale on Craigslist for super cheap and everything sold within 48 hours. I culled through my belongings and only kept five medium sized boxes of stuff and shipped it home. Everything else, including all of my beloved kitchen gadgets, my bath and body products, my book collection, and my electronics, were offered to my friends, who happily took them off my hands.
I had already renewed my apartment lease with my roommate, so I had to continue paying rent until she was able to find a new tenant to replace me, which further drained my bank account. In the end, it took nearly two months for her to find someone, which was super frustrating, but once she did I could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
As I rode the train to the airport and looked out the window for the last time at the skyline of the city that I had called home for the last five years, I was met with conflicting emotions. I was sad that I failed at the “American Dream” and that I would have to start all over again. I was scared that things would never work out and that I would never find my footing. I was angry at my employer for keeping us in the dark about what was going on with the company.
The train pulled into the airport and I joined the other passengers in riding the escalator up to the airport entrance. As I stepped off the escalator and walked towards lobby of the airport, I paused for a moment to let it all sink in. All of the sounds of the city, the pungent smell of car exhaust in the air, and the harried looks of people rushing to and fro were forever etched in my mind. I knew I would miss the city, but I also knew that I was making the right decision. I walked through the airport doors and as they shut firmly behind me, I knew I was stepping into the next chapter of my life.
Stay Tuned for Part 3: The Lessons