If you need some end of the year encouragement…pull up a seat darling.
A week before Christmas last year, I quit a live-in nanny job after discovering domestic violence in the home I lived/worked in. While painful to sever ties with children I adored—I refused to subject myself to an environment that mirrored abuse I witnessed as a child.
As we all know, Los Angeles is expensive AF. The city alone was no longer enough for me to work a full time job JUST to be able to pay rent and go to brunch on Sundays.
It used to be enough, no doubt, but after six years in LA—I wanted different even, if I didn’t quite know what that was.
From December 19th, 2018 to the beginning of March, a handful of my friends took turns letting me surf their couches or use their guest rooms. They fed me and let my dog on their furniture, although they weren’t dog people. They offered me refuge and many listening ears. I applied for tons of nanny jobs (despite my umpteenth retirement declaration) and began working for two different families.
Still couch-surfing without much direction, my ego and my back knew I needed to come up with a plan and fast. I applied for an au-pair agency in Italy and was prepared for placement–I figured if I was going to watch children, I might as well explore a new country too. But, after the 10-year-old girl I nannied for stopped in the middle of us making slime and said, “Thanks for taking care of me Carmalita,” I stayed. Her parents were divorcing and I wanted to be supportive as she finished out a difficult school year.
In March, I moved in with her and her mom—50% of the time I had my own fully furnished apartment so it was a good deal. On the days we had the kid, the mom and I developed (as usually happens when working so closely with mothers) a close rapport. From March-June, I was having the hottest girl spring; nannying two jobs, ghost writing a book and having my own place part time. My social life was lit, dating was fun and I had travel plans mapped the rest of the year. I was also developing my online creative home with Convivial Space and I felt life was good.
Then. I got fired—the effects of an ugly divorce (I guess). Details unnecessary (a nondisclosure will do that). One shouldn’t have to tell an adult that it’s disrespectful to “shoo away” employees, especially when asking for late payment, even if they live in your home.
I moved in with a mentor-turned-friend and used the rest of June, July & half of August to finish the book I was ghost-writing. I landed another part time nanny gig and went to as many open mic nights as I could. Da Poetry Lounge kept me sane. Many Tuesdays, all the money I had to my name was the 10 bucks I scraped up for open-mic, but that place is magical and well worth it.
The sadness I felt toward nannying became a looming cloud in those months. I began nannying in grad school back in 2014 because it was the only job I found joy doing while also pursuing my education. After getting my MFA, I went the nanny-agency route and made more money than I’d ever made before while also actually loving what I did. However, over time the manner in which I had been fired, and grown accustomed to (white) women treating me, was emotionally taxing. Despite difficult dealings with parents and uncomfortable endings, the kiddos always made the job worth it. They, along with the pay/enjoyment ratio—is why five years of nannying was my main professional experience. In the back of my mind though, I knew I was a writer at my core and at some point I would have to make the full-time jump away from nannying. The trouble was, I was not confident in finding employment as a writer or doing something as fulfilling as I found supporting mothers and being an aid to children.
I was reminded of a saying I heard once— “If you have to keep learning the same lesson repeatedly, it’s going to get harder every time.” I felt that my lesson was to stop running away from being a writer however…nannying was safe. I made great money, there was flexibility–blah blah blah.
But it wasn’t writing.
Unwilling to continue learning hard lessons as a professional nanny, I retired for real this time. I packed up my little car and left Los Angeles in the name of great adventure.
August & September were amazing: Cabo San Lucas with a group of amazing Los Angeles-by-way-of-Chicago friends, then a five-day cross country road trip from Los Angeles to New York alone with my little dog. I spent a month of rest in Harlem where I intended to do events to encourage and inspire and speak to folk. Instead, my tribe did all the encouraging and inspiring. I’m always floored by the amazing women in my life. I left New York rested and at peace with accepting what life had next for me.
October was one of the best and worst months not this year but in my adult life to date. I was home in Ohio…if we’re defining home as birthplace.
It was beautiful to see so many folks I haven’t seen in years. My soul was warmed with loving embraces, gut-laughs and encouragement from my Central State University family in a wonderful weekend of wedding festivities and my HBCU’s homecoming.
I met my beautiful and perfect niece and saw that a child in the next generation of my family is growing up with so much love and support. My heart was entirely full. I see so much of myself in her. Her eyes especially. They’re mine—spark and all.
And then life happened. Details aside, I encountered the most traumatic experience of my adulthood.
I felt hopeless in a way I had not felt before. But my tribe rallied together for me, oh did they rally. I was (literally) rescued. I was loved on and supported and encouraged until I was me again.
After recuperating and getting four new tires, I hopped back in my car and continued my journey back across the country. I drove to Georgia, stopping to check out a bookstore I saw in a Facebook post. An underwhelming experience but freeing nonetheless to take a road trip just to see a bookstore—I’m a sucker for used books. I then drove to The Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. I walked through and said aloud the names of my ancestors who didn’t get a chance to pursue their dreams because they were lynched. Their lives were cut short before they were able to do any of the things the privilege being alive grants me. I thanked them. I read names aloud until I was out of breath and then read more.
After, I drove to Texas to visit a sisterfriend. The solid group of women in my life are a reflection of the woman I strive to be daily. My girl welcomed me into her new home for a visit that would have allowed me to rest and finish my book of poems. I planned to head back to Los Angeles at the top of the year to celebrate my 30th and finally settle in one place.
Major discouragement followed days after I arrived. I was sad and pouty and wondering why the hell everything wasn’t where I wanted it to be already.
I’m impatient and all I knew was that I wanted to write. The truth of the matter was, I also needed to make money. I signed up for Instacart but the thought of being put on a time limit to grocery shop caused me great anxiety. So, I went back to what I knew. I switched my online profiles to Houston and told myself if worse came to worse I’d just nanny again. I applied at dozens of other places. But after hours, every day of applications, video submissions, and job site profiles I felt disappointed, dejected and down-right silly. I was ready to drive back to LA, tail-tucked and low vibrational because I felt I had failed. Especially considering I handled the beast of Los Angeles for six years.
Long story long, within two weeks of being in Houston, I landed a position as a grant writer for a nonprofit organization that caters to domestic violence and sexual abuse victims.
Exactly one year ago today, I quit my live-in job–causing myself to be “homeless” after witnessing domestic violence. It is now my job to write grants for funding that directly benefit victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. I do not believe in coincidences. All of my experiences to date have prepared me in some way for this exact moment. And for that, I am grateful.
If you’re lookin’ for a sign love, here ya go.
Don’t give up.