December 1, 2009

The Calm Within

As I walked down the stairs from Memoirs Ink’s headquarters, I hugged Felice good-bye. I was off to San Diego for a few days, for Thanksgiving weekend.

"Can’t wait to hear all your crazy stories about your family,” said Felice.

People often talk about their crazy families. There is a sort of unspoken, and sometimes very loudly spoken, understanding that families, are, well, nuts. My family is no exception. And to top off being nuts, like other families, we are also Egyptian; which is sort of a double dose of nuts, if you will. Usually, I have tons of stories about my dad’s side of the family, most of whom reside in Los Angeles, and who are especially insane. (For example, every time there is a family gathering, my uncle Paul gives birth. I will explain this in another blog.) But, I was going to my mom’s brother’s house, who lives with his wife and two young daughters, in a quiet part of San Diego. There would be no drama boiling over and exploding like a beaker filled with chemicals that should never be combined; this is what happens when my dad’s side of the family gets together.

“Well, actually, this is the no-drama—still crazy—but in a good way, part of the family,” I said.

“Oh ok. Good. You need that” she said.

“Yeah,” I said. And walked to my car.

The next morning, on Thanksgiving Day, my family and I loaded the car and headed out for the two hour drive from Los Angeles to San Diego. When we arrived at my uncle’s house, we were immediately greeted by him and his family. I hugged and kissed each of them, my uncle Mark, his wife Miriam, and their daughters Catherine and Sarah. As I stood beside our car, I took a deep breath; I could feel the contrast between the stillness of his neighborhood and the bustling streets of L.A. I smiled.

My uncle’s house is tucked away in a small town inside of beautiful San Diego. There is a long walkway from the sidewalk to his front door. There are only a few other houses next to his; his street, and the streets surrounding his, are very quiet. There are no fire trucks, screaming neighbors, or otherwise unexplainable city noises. I welcomed the change. This was the perfect getaway for me and my family.

After I graduated from college, I moved to Los Angeles and started working at a doctor’s office. I planned to take a year off, to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, but quickly took on a full time job in a busy doctor’s office because I needed money; I still didn’t know how to pursue a career as a writer, and since I worked at doctor’s offices before, I knew I would get hired. At first, the patients, with their thick Persian accents, and outrageous demands like, “my mom needs a tranquilizer, give her one,” and “I got a ticket on the way to your office because I was speeding, pay for it” didn’t bother me that much. They were funny even. But, over time, when I was spoken to as though I were an idiot because I was working for a doctor and I myself am not a doctor, their words did upset me. Suddenly, they weren’t so funny.

I started interning at Memoirs Ink and I told Felice that this, right here, writing my story and encouraging people to write theirs, is my sanity.

“I think your job is killing your spirit,” she said one day when were out at lunch, celebrating my birthday. I sat there, in a cozy café in Brentwood, and stared at the dessert in the glass counter in front of me. Her words replayed in my mind. Your job is killing your spirit. Ever since I took that job, I noticed that I was constantly complaining. I snapped at people, even my parents, when they were usually just trying to help. My laughter, which, incidentally, "is sort of an event," subsided.

It took a couple more months after my Birthday lunch with Felice, but I finally quit. I decided I’d done enough damage to my soul. I didn’t have another plan, another source of income, or even the slightest idea of what I was going to do next. I just knew I needed to get out of that office. And I was right. I continued interning at Memoirs Ink and eventually, I found my way.

This Thanksgiving, I was especially thankful. And calm. I appreciated that sort of inner peace that I’ve enjoyed for most of my life. As I sat in my uncle’s living room, I remembered an episode of "I Love Lucy” when Lucy moves to the country. She and Ricky can’t fall asleep because it’s “too quiet.” I learned that this uneasy feeling is common amongst people from large cities, like myself. This time, I didn’t feel any uneasiness. Instead, the calmness of the city reflected the calmness inside of me. My spirit was back.

1 comment:

  1. Your laughter is contagious, but not like swine flu.