I remember sitting at my desk, looking at the caller I.D., thinking, “I will let one of them answer it.” It was my boss. It wasn’t even 9:00 yet. Whatever he was calling for, I didn’t want to hear it. I was looking forward to spending the evening with my boyfriend. It was our one year anniversary. I had packed my bags and I would take the hour long drive to his house after work. I did that a lot during the week, knowing I had to get up the next day and drive back. It was harder when I was in graduate school but now I was working two jobs so I did it when I could. Anyway, nobody answered the phone and I believe I did. Or I picked it up while somebody else was talking. Either way, I heard my boss’s somber voice on the other end saying a plane had hit the Twin Towers in New York. WHAT? We all ran downstairs and tried to rig up the television.
What I remember next was trying to call my boyfriend. I was in between panic and shock, disbelief and craziness. I watched as the second tower fell. I had a meeting that day that I had to go to and I didn’t want to go. My boss had told me it was my decision. I remember pulling up in the parking lot and talking to my boyfriend on the phone. He was in a panic because his cousin worked in Manhattan and could not be found. I decided he needed me more than the residents of that neighborhood who had been waiting on me. I left and rushed to his side.
As we know, the story could continue and there is more to it. We could talk about the panic attacks I had watching people line up at the gas stations and the obsession I had with leaving working and watching the news (the reason why I rarely watch it now), the dinner my boyfriend and I had that night and the second job I eventually quit two days later. This story is about the day I turned my light off and decided that who I was and what I needed wasn’t important.
You see, that boyfriend eventually became my husband. And I would have had it no other way. In the middle of the greatest tragedy to hit our country, I was more concerned about him than I was anything else in the world. I am not saying that was a bad action on my part. What I am saying is that a continual pattern of placing others’ needs in front of mine eventually created the tragedy of my life: “I am not important. I am not priority. What I need to do is “penciled in”. What others need me to do takes precedence over everything.” Nothing but death could have kept me from him that day. Or any other day, really. But I couldn’t find time to do ten minutes of yoga or go to bed early or, well, eat breakfast.
I quit my second job because my grandmother said to me, “the world could be ending and you are working a second job so you can do what….buy an extra shirt?” I was working two jobs because, well, I was used to working two jobs. I was living in a mindset of “not having” and I thought making $5.82 an hour, working thirteen hours a week was going to put me over the top. I was killing myself. For no reason. There is NEVER a reason. Hallmark Cards is still in business without my presence.
What I am saying to you, on a day when we are all keenly aware that there are no warranties on any of our lives, is that do the things that make you shine, that make you happy. Be willing to flip your own light switch just as much as you are for anyone else. Know that you are just as worthy of your time, affection, sacrifices, money, LOVE as anyone else. Your quality of life depends on your investment. Make your time here count.