Sweat ran down the back of my neck as I clicked the padlock closed on the hot storage unit that now housed all my belongings.
“I’ll only be gone for a month,” I’d told my friends, knowing full well the key to this padlock might not be used for eternity.
A week earlier I’d climbed onto the usual E50 bus to North Sydney. The same commuters silently thumbing their iPhones, scowling when someone dared to assault the silence by answering a call. Even a whispered “I’m on the bus, I’ll call you back in forty five,” was dealt a series of eye rolls and snorts.
The miserable commute a preview of the depressing workday ahead. The company I worked for dying a slow and painful death. I wanted it euthanised. But euthanasia meant more than the death of someone else’s business. It meant a loss of purpose and livelihood for many. And in a city where housing prices were skyrocketing, it meant the potential loss of the tiny patch of beachside paradise I’d desperately clutched onto during a series of disasters; the last tiny glimmer of light in the looming darkness.
“There’s no money left,” my wild-eyed boss ran his hands across his bald scalp. “I can’t pay anyone this week.”
For months I’d watched reruns of this scene. When would it end? When would he put the knife in and let the damn business die?
While he held on with white knuckled refusal, so, unfortunately, did I. I wanted it to end, but I didn’t. An end here would be the earthquake that triggered the tsunami of my life.
At lunchtime I walked the same route past the monotonous shops, wearing my now permanent look of despair. My mind racing. Wanting it over. Not wanting the repercussions.
“What do I do? I don’t know what to do. What do I do? I don’t know what to do.”
In tears I phoned my brother. Blubbering the lyrics of the high rotation tape in my head. So many jobs ending in disaster. So many times my life smashed to pieces. The goddess, Kali, on the warpath, was sending the world crashing down around my ears. Again.
“I know you hate asking for help,” he said. “Especially from family. But that’s what we’re here for. Let us be your safety net. Just come up to Coffs.”
“I can’t!” I wailed. “My life is here. My friends are here. I can’t ask for help. It’s not meant to be like this. I’m supposed to do it myself!”
“You keep repeating the same patterns,” he said. “The same jobs, same relationships, same lifestyle. Break the pattern. Do something different. Ask for help.”
Six months on, cold rain ran down the back of my neck as I entered the storage facility. Hands shaking, the padlock clicked open. I knew full well the key to this padlock marked a painful ending, and the spark of a surprising new adventure.
This story first appeared on ABC Open.
Image: Efrén Rodríguez Fotografía