30 Days of Thanks: Fresh Air
I’ve been in a bit of a funk the last couple days, largely because of the uncertainty of what’s going on with our lives right now. I wrote a little over a week ago about Chris’ not good work news, but I didn’t go into great detail because I wasn’t quite ready to accept or share the reality of the situation. I think part of me hoped that the owners of the restaurant might change their minds, but of course that didn’t happen and so here we are.
The short version of the story is that for the first time, maybe ever, The Brotherhood is going to close for the winter and will officially become a seasonal restaurant, open only April through December. We had heard some talk of this possibility and were actually hopeful that it would happen since Chris is a salaried employee who has, historically, gotten paid even when the restaurant is closed (which works out to make up for those months out of the year when he works 60, 70, and 80 hour weeks). We intentionally timed our pregnancy with Peach so that he or she would be born in January, knowing that the best time to add a new baby would be when Chris could actually be around to participate and help Nora and me ease into our new family of four; when we heard that the time off could extend beyond his normal four or five weeks, I was ecstatic. What could be better than an eight or twelve week leave right as Peach entered the world? It seemed like the stars were aligning perfectly — and then the bomb dropped: yes, the restaurant was closing for twelve weeks, but the owners had decided that they are not going to continue to pay Chris’ salary during that time. So much for our perfectly timed addition to our family; in the space of an hour our life completely changed and this baby is now going to arrive right at the moment when we will have no income at all. And, as if twelve weeks of no income isn’t enough — to add salt to our wounds — when the restaurant reopens it will be with a new general manager and a shuffling of management staff to accommodate the new GM, which will have a pretty profound impact on Chris’ responsibilities and role.
I know this sort of thing happens everyday to countless people throughout our country, many of whom don’t have the luxury of several weeks notice, and I suppose I am thankful that we were at least given six weeks to start figuring things out. But even with six weeks time, it’s incredibly scary to think about twelve weeks with no income starting right at the time when I’m due to give birth and very likely will not be capable of earning money myself. We’ve looked into unemployment, but as it will only pay half his weekly income, it won’t be enough to see us through (and Chris isn’t too keen on relying on unemployment anyway). We do have some savings, and though it will be painful to live off of money we worked incredibly hard to save for a down payment on a house, I am thankful that we have some money available to help us through.
But beyond the immediate worry of making ends meet during months when we already have the hardest time making ends meet (as it is, I curse the propane truck every time I hear it pull up during winter months…now I might consider going out and telling the driver to go away), I also have the added worry over the uncertainty of our long-term future. Even if we manage to make it through these twelve weeks on unemployment and savings and Chris starts back up at The Brotherhood in April, there’s no way that our finances can handle a repeat next winter. Which means the place we thought Chris would work for years to come is no longer a viable long-term option. And so, quite suddenly, I am faced with the reality that this change may mean me losing my paradise, the place that made me feel closer to my end goals and dreams than I’ve ever before felt. I am having to accept that this change could very well mean us losing Nantucket, losing our simple island lifestyle and losing the wonderful community that we have found here.
It’s been a long week full of serious discussions and incredible amounts of uncertainty. I’ve been trying to find the joy and see this as just another bend in the road to where we want to be; I’ve been trying to see this as an opportunity for adventure and trying, despite the desperate feeling of this situation, to focus on the many things we have for which to be thankful. But even with our best efforts, this week has worn on me and the past few days I’ve felt very gray. This morning, I couldn’t even drag up the motivation to go to yoga even after a full night of sleep and knowing that yoga is exactly what I need right now.
The day was looking to be a repeat of yesterday’s blahness until one of my friends called me up and invited Nora and me for a walk out at Squam Swamp. Today, I am thankful for my friend Becky (who even offered to pick us up and drive us out there). I am thankful for the beautiful woods and experience of discovering something new (we had never been to Squam before since it’s not within our normal walking range). But today, most of all, I am thankful for the crisp fall air. It seems that fresh air and a walk through the woods with some adorable, tree climbing
little ones is all that I needed to clear my funk and start feeling like myself again.
I have been reading for a while but haven’t found occasion to comment quite yet. So, hello!
I’m sorry to hear about this big change, but I want to respond to your concern about unemployment – please, please, take the unemployment. It is an insurance that you pay for with every paycheck and it is for situations exactly like this. You have enough worries in this uncertain time in your life, without the added burden of refusing money that is meant to help you along temporarily while you work out your next steps.
Thanks for reading, Becky, and thanks for your comment. I don’t mean to imply that we wouldn’t take the unemployment if we need it. We definitely would — our savings isn’t big enough for us to live off for that long without it and I don’t personally have problems with social welfare services when they’re needed. I just meant to say that I think Chris would rather earn his money through gainful employment.
I was wondering what was happening, and now I know that sad news. I’m so sorry! I love the Brotherhood, and that is the place I would keep warm during the cold Nantucket winter days.
I’ll keep you in my prayers and send positive vibes your way.
Hugs – Marika
praying for you and your family.. I can only imagine what you are going through.. So sorry to hear about the loss of income, I know this may not be any help.. but .. sometimes doors close and new ones open to better opportunities. Security is a really big thing with women.. and I know your life is shaken right now.. it may have bumps in the roads and a few land slides, it will work out.. some how.. in the mean time. I will be praying. I love the pictures you took of the children. They are precious.. very cute.. 🙂