I woke up Friday morning. I knew I had a big day-long meeting, so the night before I had washed a load of nice work clothes (all black) and hung them up. I had my choice of items to wear that were (somewhat) flattering, made me feel (somewhat) attractive and comfortable at the same time, and would be professional enough for said day-long meeting.
Upon arising, however, something dawned on me. All of the colleges in my statewide system would be represented at said day-long meeting. All of them. Including the one I where I used to be employed.
Immediately I was excited and panicked at the same time. I might be seeing people that I used to work with! I could catch up with some old frenemies! But … I weigh 50 pounds more (at least) than I did the last time they saw me (and I was 8 months pregnant then). And you know that thing about when someone leaves everything that is wrong gets blamed on them? I totally know that has happened.
So … I start getting ready. I shave my legs, I get dressed, I put straightening solution in my hair and start drying it. I straighten my hair, I pick out jewelry and shoes, all the time thinking about my old job. The job I loved, until I didn’t. I job I wasn’t planning to leave, until I did. The job that I very abruptly made a transition from, that included 3 weeks in the hospital and a newborn. “Mixed emotions” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
I was paying zero attention to my kid. She was watching “Jane and the Dragon” and playing with the cat. I could hear her, I knew she was fine. So I could be absorbed in my “will they think I’m fat” obsession, and my “what if they don’t even talk to me” anxiety.
Until I heard a plaintive voice from the other room: “momma, I need help”.
I walked into the hallway with makeup half applied and my mascara in my hand. Her door was closed all the way, which is unusual because that usually makes her cry. I don’t see the cat.
I try the doorknob. It is locked. I block my first instinct to panic, and head to the linen closet. I pull out the un-bent metal coat hanger, and insert it into the hole in the knob. I’ve done this before. In my old apartment, the door would bang against the wall in the wind and then slam shut, and I was constantly opening it this way.
Only … nothing. It’s not working.
Panic rises another notch, but I’m clear headed. This is not a big deal. I check my bedroom door and sure enough, the lock is a thumbscrew lock, not a push-button lock. So I try talking to my kid.
Honey, do you see the line in the middle of the knob?” “Yes”. “Can you try to turn it so it points sideways?”. (She turns the whole knob.) “Just the middle part” (More turning of the whole knob.) She starts to cry, so I abandon that plan.
I run to the garage to retrieve a small screwdriver, and begin removing the doorknob. I take out both screws and take off the knob. I have her pull off the knob on the other side (since she had the one attached to the shaft thing.) Then I try sliding the thing in the middle.
Try again. Nothing.
Great. I have now disassembled the doorknob, half of which is inside the room, and I still can’t get the damn door open.
Thankfully, my kid is playing and doesn’t seem terribly concerned about it. But the cat is starting to reach out under the door with his paw as if to say “HelLOOOO, we are STUCK IN HERE, get us OOOUUUT”.
So, I grab my phone. Which has been erratically losing signal, and this seems to be one of those times, so I have to turn it off and back on again. Awesome.
Meanwhile I go back out to the garage and get the largest screwdriver I can find. I try all kinds of little tricks on the “middle thing” while I turn my phone back on and finally get my dad on the phone.
His suggestion? Find the biggest screwdriver you can find. Sorry Dad, that’s not working.
His next suggestion? Butter knife.
Fucking genius. I managed to turn the “middle thing” and pop the door open like it was nothing with the butter knife.
I pushed the door open and my kid looked up and smiled. “Hi Mommie!”.
I went back into the bathroom to finish getting ready. And then I realized the lesson in the event. (OTHER than “remember to not have a thumbscrew lock on the door to your two-year-old’s room”.)
I had been so preoccupied with the thought of the people where I used to work. What they would think of me now, how they would act toward me, what I would say. When in reality, my life has changed. My priorities have shifted. “This is my life now” floated through my head, and I was grateful for the reminder of what in my life is important NOW. My kid, and my cat, both of whom were safely rescued from the kid’s bedroom.
I went to the meeting, merely a few minutes late. There was only one person from my previous college, and they were probably a new hire because it was someone I completely didn't recognize. I hung out with some people I've met at my new college and I had as much fun as I could have at this day-long meeting.
And this morning I bought a new doorknob. One that doesn’t have a lock on it.