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Paroled

Analogy of a Departure

One of the final farewells I received on my last day at work came from a coworker with whom I had only minimal contact during the few months we worked in neighboring departments. He wagered my departure might feel a little bit like getting out of jail; leaving a familiar environment after a decade and a half may give the sense of having become institutionalized with both the joys and struggles of life on the outside.  He certainly didn’t imply that working in this office resembled a prison, and yet he could not have been more on the mark with his initial analogy.  During the tenure of employment the routine of getting up and driving to an office becomes rote, and for me, eliminating the familiar elements of my past career offers equal parts trouble and triumph.

As I drive away from my final day at the office, I continue to think about the comparison with which he left me.  Would I be one of those repeat offenders who find life on the outside to be too challenging and who begins making choices that lead back to the comforts of the world I have just left?  The likelihood of my failing at this new endeavor, while not out of the question, could allow me to drift back into the comfort and convenience of a job I know I can tackle.  And the prospect of returning to the cell I have just left scares me more than the great unknown of the future on the outside.

Redemption

Not even in orientation yet and the first few days out of work surprise me with two unexpected effects: rising early and dreaming heavily.  While equally attributable to the departure from Daylight Savings Time, I wake each day as if my internal clock still thinks I should be performing my daily morning activities to commute to the office before the onslaught of rush hour.  I wonder if my system doesn’t realize I no longer need to face the maddening dash of traffic to get to my desk and my computer and my routine by a required time.  The only reason to even get up and start the day now focuses on walking the dog and perhaps meeting a friend for brunch.  I want to adjust to my new, non-urgent priorities, but the alarm inside me keeps going off far earlier than is now necessary.

Clearly, by the vivid dreams I am experiencing, my subconscious knows I am already moving on to my new career, but perhaps not fast enough.  My brain spends its nights imaging myself in the cab of a tractor, hauling a heavy load around tight corners, down narrow roads, and through busy streets.  As my dreams fill with the nagging anticipation of just wanting to get started, my conscience reminds me that I need to brace for life on the outside.  The risk of forgetting everything I trained, studied, and focused on in order to transition from my cubicle existence to my life in the wide expanse of the open road needles at me as I sleep, but at least my waking thoughts envision what I hope will become a brand new life after parole.  And if Shawshank teaches us nothing else, remember that hope is a good thing.

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About Pam Portland

For a decade and a half I worked behind a series of desks, peeking out from around my computer monitor. Seeing the United States in bits and pieces wasn't enough to satisfy me, so I am grabbing my virtual pen and taking flight. Welcome along!

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