'Tis the season of swift anxiety that has encountered me as of late. My mind has been in a constant state of perplexity, as I have learned the level of ridiculousness of my job's “new” duties has prominently increased and my annual wage has prominently remained stagnant. That's right – I now have ZERO incentive to NOT FULLY loathe aspects of my job, even more than I already did.
The present-day economic times have left me speechless and paralyzed in fear. As with many others, the uneasiness and hardships brought about by countless nation-wide lay-offs have hit unexpectedly close to home. My mother has been unemployed for more than 6 months now. I suffered a shock to learn that her 12-year old safe job in her meticulous, hard-working and often underpaid structural engineering career has literally been terminated overnight, from one day to the next.
I took the saddest, longest drive into the city that late Friday afternoon to her office to help gather her things. For those few hours, the city and I were at war, no longer feeling it being anyone's safe haven, but a cruel, cold, wretched place that had just harshly disposed itself of my mother. In the now empty 80-something employee office, where I had spent almost an entire worry-free year interning in college, my mother slaving away at her desk, picking her head up off her project sheet only to check emails or take a sip of her coffee - in that same office, I have found my mother gathering 12 years of memories and professional experience in sad boxes and crates – she had packed brochures and pamphlets of her older projects, her books and notes, picture frames and souvenirs, her Rolodex and coffee mug I bought for her from South Carolina, and other miscellaneous supplies. She remained calmed, much as she always does, as we both walked out one last time, hands armed with small boxes, big crates and even bigger courage. As I drove off, she gazed down and bit her lower lip, as her chin started trembling and tears started to stream down, her hands now cupping the wetness of her face, muffling gentle sobs of grief and unfairness. My heart breaks in about a trillion different little pieces each and every time I see my mother cry.
As an immigrant whose parents (all three, read: mother, father and stepfather) have valued higher education more than anything in the world, it is absolutely needless to say (but I am going to say it anyways) that such an experience is only to create a further need for a higher degree of excellence, achievement and doubtless future successes.
I cannot say that my mother and stepfather have been barbarically overbearing, but over the years, their mild, low-key tactics have beautifully taken their toll. They have been instilled in me from an early age – the theory of an immigrant is, after all, quite very simple: the parents want to offer their children a chance to have a much better future than they did.
This is my future. I have no idea what it holds for me.
But it's that time that we all dread most: decision-time.