We received a call from a friend around 8:00am today, and he said, “sorry, I just realized how early it is. I’m going to bed, and I’ll talk to you later.” It brought back memories of a very weird period in my life…
Once upon a time, roughly a year ago, I found myself on an unemployment vacation. I was laid off from a job I was seriously considering leaving anyway, and for a month, I was in heaven. I had been working or in school (and much of the time, both) since the age of 15, and I admit that it was nice to wake up and ask myself “Ava, what do YOU want to do today?” After a month, however, relaxation turned into pure anxiety as I realized that unemployment income was just enough to keep me from being homeless–as long as I didn’t buy anything. Like food, for example.
This stint of not having a job ended up lasting for seven months, and I am quite thankful it was only that long. I certainly have heard stories of folks who are in their third or fourth year of being unable to find work, and I really feel for them. It’s not the vacation it seems like it should be. That said, sometimes, you just have to make the most of it (when you’re not having panic attacks) and find things to distract yourself.
I caught up on several TV shows that I was able to procure full seasons of, and I played a lot of video games. Why didn’t I take up running? Or cycling? Or something else that would put me out into the beautiful sunshine-y Colorado weather? Because I accidentally became completely nocturnal for almost two months. By nocturnal, I mean, I would wake up daily around 6:00pm when the sun had gone down, and I would fall asleep around 7:00am after the sun had come up. I made it a point to take the dogs out right before going to bed, just so I didn’t die of a massive vitamin D deficiency.
If you ever find yourself with the free time to try this experiment, I suggest you do it. Never did I think I could achieve such a vastly different perspective on the world without leaving the USA. Or even my home city. Or even my house! If you want just a taste of it–set your alarm for 3:30am and go grocery shopping at a 24-hour supermarket. It will be scary and hilarious all at once. It truly felt like I was living on an exclusive island where the sun never shined, and only 13 of the world’s drunkest and most confused people walked about.
At the time, I kept thinking, “this is ridiculous, I need to knock it off,” but trying to pull your body out of a completely opposite schedule is not easy. I finally remedied the situation by dosing myself with cup after cup of coffee and staying awake for almost 36 hours. I still remember that period of time so fondly, however, because it’s something I know I’ll never do again. It was such an accidental discovery of this whole other world that exists while most of us are dreaming of better (and weirder) lives.
I still get strong pangs of nostalgia when I hear the opening theme song of Top Gear (the British version). I also had a pretty serious (albeit brief) feeling of envy when my friend called this morning. Then I realized how thankful I am to have a paycheck again and to be a normally functioning part of society. Normal. Sheesh.
(P.S. I do not mean to discount those of you who work overnight shifts. You guys are my heroes because that lifestyle is difficult to maintain–and you absolutely work your butts off. I’m sure you have stories upon stories about what it’s like to live in that world permanently)