Coming home has been as much of an experience as it was to leave in the first place.
After lollygagging in bed for a while under the covers next to my Charlie, reading the news and my email, I hopped up and grabbed a quick, hot shower with my aqua blue sweater hanging over the shower curtain (free steam iron), thinking about the day to come. I dried my hair and even pulled out the makeup. It was picture day.
I headed towards downtown to the big Kaiser building, and rang the girl who I was meeting there so she could come down and get me. Our first stop was security, where a woman about fifty-five had me sit down and take a photo. Hanging next to her desk was "Australia, New Zealand, Fiji-- 30 days!" I asked who was going. She said she was and for six weeks! I said, "Good for you!" I told her I used to live there. She was very nice and efficient and we were on our way to sign a few more docs, take a copy of my passport and then pick up a my old ID number and enter new passwords.
The guy setting my my computer and charting access kept asking me if I remembered things. A lot of the screens actually looked pretty foreign to me except when I signed into Epic for the first time. That looked familiar for sure. I'm excited and scared to be returning to my old job. I'm sure it will be the same and different, just like coming back here.
There's been a lot of emotions surrounding my return to Portland. I spent a significant portion of my life in the Northwest. Returning here was no small move. It was something I'd been afraid of doing for a long time. The fear that the old sadness I felt last time I was here would return. The loneliness. Being stuck in one place without options. Depression like a sinking ship in the morning when I awoke. Was it the city or was it me? If I came back would I be in the same place wanting to get out? Yet I'd been looking for Portland everywhere I went. It seemed like I had to return.
After about a month of adjusting to the massive move I'd made and rupturing of our relationship, the rest of the year has felt remarkably calm, even as we navigated through the questions that would come. What would Justin think of Oregon? How would we feel when we were together? What would happen?
With my family history, I sort of think that things are always going to go wrong, but it's gone better than I expected. I feel the signs are pointing us to here and staying. I had a really calm year of income with Costco and enough fill in work to help financially. After a lot of soul-searching and speaking with other Kaiser employees (current and past), I decided to investigate the possibility of returning. I know they do not always take people back, and I knew they'd be afraid that I might decide I want to take off again and move around the world. My feeling is that's not going to happen- I'm older and I had my five years of vagabonding and I'm pretty happy with a normal day-to-day routine. I'm aware that working two days is not enough- I have more time off than I need, and fill-in work is fairly stressful. I've also really missed the professional atmosphere of Kaiser and the level of patient care. Mostly I've missed the experience of learning more and more with each passing day through feedback and interactions with other providers and complicated patients.
Through the last few years, I've mulled around the idea of underemployment, switching careers, living off the land, and various other off-the-beaten-path ideas. I've come to feel that working enough to enjoy my free time, and having money available in my bank account without constant spreadsheet and tax analysis by me would be different sort of freedom and one that I'd like to pursue again. I also feel fortunate to just have a job, and to have a career in which
I've been able to find work at any time that I needed it, even while
taking breaks between jobs to travel and visit family. I know that no
career is perfect and I've often lamented the shortcomings of this
field, but overall it has served me well.
With Justin at my side, I have an anchor and calmness that makes each day a nice day to have lived. We, of course, will have our rough waters in the future, but we're working together day by day to inch forward. We're both very excited that I'm returning to Kaiser. Today I got my ID badge- I have two days of training at the end of the week and then will start patient care next Monday- two days of ophthalmology and two days of optometry. I'm hopeful and happy at the next chapter we're starting. We think this will allow us to have a little more freedom and peace at the end of the day.