CN: Unhealthy work environments, a link to a former animal companion
Once upon a time I used to spend Thanksgiving alone on a regular basis. I’d get a cornish hen and some blueberries and napa cabbage and then between checks on work I’d write, and write, and write.
The first time it happened, it was logistical. I worked at a job that launched a thing on Thanksgiving every year and it had a terrible, terrible track record. I would inevitably end up having to test every hour, contact people to fix things, QA, etc… and my parents lived in a rural area with very bad internet, particularly on a holiday. It made Thanksgiving even more trying than the usual family dynamics juggle. And the Monday after? Wheeeew. There was always a shitstorm waiting because of whatever happened.
Therefore, after the first two years of tears and struggle, I decided I would stay home where the bandwidth was abundant and no one was asking me to do other tasks & be social while I was trying to make my work life endurable.
What surprised me?
I loved it. Loooooved it. I wished I would never have to go to someone else’s house for this holiday again, no matter whose. Small plate, minimal cleanup, no social awkwardness. I promised myself I’d do this every year as long as I could.
Then, one year my upstairs neighbor realized I was home and insisted I join her and her brother. I really liked this neighbor, so after a few rounds of “No I’m Okay Really” I went and hung out with them for a few hours.
It was pleasant, sure. I had a good enough time, and they were wonderful hosts, charming & funny & many other positive adjectives. (I really liked this neighbor.) But I couldn’t help craving the solitude just down the stairs, where my dog patiently waited for my return, where my work-in-progress hovered in mid-arc, where the security of checking that damn project once per hour ensured that the following Monday wouldn’t involve a two-hour post-mortem meeting. I stayed with my neighbor for three hours, then excused myself and went back downstairs.
Where I sighed with relief, then wrote and wrote and checked work and wrote and wrote.
I miss that, sometimes. Four guaranteed days of just me and Amelia, hanging out and writing and just… making sure. Even now, with Jon being one of the only reasons I climbed out of a horrible mental health pit and every day with him bringing laughter, I get wistful thinking about it.
With this holiday season being so isolated, I am wishing to everyone struggling that you get at least one sigh of relief for something, somewhere, somehow.