I first got the idea to quit my job during a softball game in Philadelphia.
I was in town for my sister's college graduation, and some of my buddies from high school needed an extra man for a game in their weekend rec league. Yeah, I was happy to step in just to hang with the boys, but it was also going to be nice to play for the first time in a while, since my various schedules prevented me from doing so down here. On my first at-bat, it took a few tosses from the pitcher until the right pitch came. When it did, I connected ... and something clicked. Hitting, fielding, throwing -- I played lights-out the entire day, like a fairer-skinned, much more ordinary Willie Mays. There was a joy. I'd like to do that more often, I thought. But I couldn't just leave my job. I'd need something lined up.
Then I was a groomsman in the wedding of two close friends.
I flew out to Chicago for the long weekend. Yeah, I was excited for the nuptials, but it was also going to be nice to navigate a city, since the lay of the land prevented me from doing so down here. I spirited around town, visiting my sister, friends; the city was a bustle of social activity in a way the Lowcountry has never been for me. I'd like to maybe live here, I thought. With a different job, in a different world, I'd just leave.
My grandma died.
I went home to Wisconsin for the funeral. Yeah, I was going to say goodbye to my grandmother, but it was also going to be nice to see uncles, aunts, cousins, godparents for the first time in years, since the distance prevented me from doing so down here. Despite the general melancholy of the event, I had a great time. I'd like to see those people more often, I thought. I could start looking for other jobs, but I couldn't just leave, right?
My family visited for Christmas.
All five of the other Carpenters took in the holiday in the Lowcountry. Yeah, I was going to have to work just about every day they were here, but it was also going to be nice to have them living in the same town I do, even for a week, since ... well, you know. Gosh, I miss them a lot, I thought. I had been here for three years, put together a solid body of work: What would happen if I just left?
My landlord said I had to be moved out of my condo by the end of February.
That was the nudge. I could no longer deny what had started as a fanciful inkling on that softball field: I decided it was time to just leave and I submitted my resignation. Next week I'll be moving to Chicago, closer to family, friends and the occasional snowflake. This will be my final column in this space.
I can only look back on my time in the Lowcountry with fondness. People aren't always lucky enough to love what they do; I'm thankful to have gotten that chance for three years in designing and writing for the Lowcountry Current. Include the natural beauty of the region and more than a few might wonder what the heck I'm doing getting out of here.
Ultimately, though, it's time for a change. In terms of my career, I don't know where that change is going to take me (aside from Chicago. Duh.), only that I'm ready.
Making this decision, I kept thinking back to that softball game. I've been waiting for the right pitch; I think it's here.
I'm swinging for the fences.