Monday, June 20, 2011

Everything is free

Sunset over potato fields

Another job on my list of ideas from the Bahamas was Emerald Bay, a resort in Exuma. I had several resorts on my job list, mainly in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, places where a bilingual American may have been able to slip her foot in the door. It’s funny to imagine now the alternate life I could be living—as a receptionist at a posh hotel, bumming around with fellow expats at night, rowing home by dinghy to my home in the cluttered harbor. It sounds so sexy, and yet I know I wouldn’t trade the life I have now for that one.

No matter where I am, working for some big corporation, even one in an exotic beachfront locale, makes me miserable. I’ve known that for years, since about when I started working. What makes me happy is living for myself, working for myself, being completely dependent on my own whims and wits and laziness for survival. I sit at a desk most of the day here, in Aroostook County, but it’s my own desk and my own choice.

When I was working in a cubicle, on some days, bad days, I could actually feel each useless second slip by, as if each one tinkled as it passed, dropping into the glass hourglass of my life. I could feel my body spreading wide, dying beneath me. I was getting paid for each of those seconds, a pretty hefty wage at that, when I think about how much I earn now, but it didn’t matter. I was a whore—I was selling each moment of my time, when time is all I have.

So. I could get a big job with a corporation here. Big telemarketing firms have outposts in Maine. There are hunting lodges and convention centers here, the Maine equivalent of resorts, not to mention doctors’ offices and restaurants. Or I could continue to carve out a hardscrabble life for myself on my own—seeing what I can grown and can and preserve, picking up odd jobs here and there—maybe cutting Christmas trees again this year or harvesting potatoes this fall, maybe making wreathes out of northern Maine red crap (my favorite unidentified plant up here), catching an occasional communication consulting job on the internet. Because the less I have, the less I need.

Here’s a song for today, from Gillian Welch:

Everything is free now
That’s what they say
Everything I ever done
Gonna give it away
Someone hit the big score
They figured it out
That we’re gonna do it anyway
Even if it doesn’t pay

I can get a tip jar
Gas up the car
Try to make a little change
Down at the bar
I can get a straight job
I done it before
Never mind you’re working hard
It’s who I’m working for

Every day I wake up
Humming a song
But I don’t need to run around
I just stay home
Sing a little love song
My love and myself
If there’s something that you want to hear
You can sing it yourself

Because everything is free now
That’s what I said
No one’s gotta listen to
The words in my head
Someone hit the big score
I figured it out
And we’re gonna do it anyway
Even if it doesn’t pay

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