The Return

It’s almost been a year, my friends.

I’ve thought about writing over the past year. I really have. But it never happened. I can’t say why because I don’t really have an answer. To that I apologize.

I’m also guilty of having started a bullet journal. That’s where most of my writing has gone.

The question now is where to begin?

California has been nothing like I ever expected. It’s been amazing.

I’m sad to say that my time here is probably growing short, though.  At least, my time in Southern California.

The internship was nothing like I expected. It was challenging, it was rewarding, and it ended too quickly. In some ways, I don’t feel that I grew as a music therapist. Very rarely did I receive constructive critique from my supervisors and observing therapists. I questioned it then and still question it to this day – nearly 6 months post-completion. I did so well, though, that word spread up the chain to the clinical director at the facility and I was encouraged to apply for an open position.

Now, the facility I work at is slated to close in 2019. It was a temporary position – a year long. Great pay, great benefits, and it would allow me to stay and gain some experience at a place that I was already quite familiar with. It also would give me preferential treatment for other state jobs. At the beginning of my internship, I brushed this off as I believed I wanted something permanent post-graduation. Other circumstances led me to change my mind.

I made some quick friends, my best friend being a girl named Lauren about my age who also recently graduated. She’s from the area and lives at home like many new grads in California. It was an awkward beginning, but she has become someone very dear to me. She also happened to date Ben, my ex, for a period of time.

There was tension at first. I was very confused about my feelings about Ben when I initially arrived. We did have a history, but we are both very different people from then. We became friends again mostly through my constant invitations for him to hang out. Now, he’s currently looking after my cat as I am in a tough housing situation.

I have made other good friends with Ben and Lauren being at the top of the list. There has been tension there though as Ben has been coping with his break-up with Lauren and I have been closer with her during this time.

There’s also someone else.

His name is Joel. He’s a part-time engineer, part-time graduate student. He’s someone that I’ve gotten very excited about very quickly. We met towards the last half of my internship via a dating app. After going on a few dates, we decided to end our romantic relationship as he did not believe his conservative family would approve of me. Also didn’t help that I would be his first girlfriend. After being friends for a month though, we found that our reasons to not be together were silly and we were quick to pass judgement.

Sound familiar?

We’ve quickly gotten somewhat serious. We communicate quite effectively due to similar styles. We have similar but not too similar of interests. He’s incredibly intelligent. He’s funny. He has a kind heart. He’s nerdy as fuck. He’s someone that’s been easy for me to love.

My plan was to work at the facility where I completed my internship. I was told that so long as I passed my first interview which was an oral examination, I would be a shoe-in for the job at Fairview.

I did everything I was supposed to do as quickly as I could have. I made several calls, pushed lots of buttons, sent countless faxes and emails. My hope was to start working at the facility at the latest by May. I did everything I was supposed to as quickly as I could have. By mid-February, the ball was in their court. It was risky in the first place – I decided to risk my livelihood on a promise made by a program director that they couldn’t guarantee.

Mid-March, I received a call I didn’t want. It was that program director informing me that they hadn’t moved quickly enough. The funding for the position was gone.

At the time, I was living in a small room but very nice room attached to the garage of my former supervisor from my internship. I was waiting tables 25 miles away from where I was living. I was staying the night in Joel’s tiny room in his house in Irvine where his lease prohibits overnight guests most of the time. I was meeting all these people in Joel’s life – his friends, family. All on the promise that I had a big state job waiting for me and I could be my own person. It all fell apart in a 2-and-a-half minute phone call.

Since then, I have found one other part-time job. I am an independent contractor for a preschool music entertainment and education company. It pays extremely well, but I have very few hours. I still rely upon my restaurant job.

I have been searching for a job in music therapy in Southern California now for 2 full months with limited success. I was offered an on-call position at a psychiatric facility located in Long Beach. I was offered a full-time, benefited position at Coalinga State Hospital working mostly with violent sex offenders. I declined both offers.

Most of my motivation to remain in Southern California, particularly Orange County, is because of Joel. Early in our relationship, he made it quite clear that he does not wish to have a long distance relationship of any kind. This has deterred me from looking elsewhere for the most part. Most of the places I’m interested in moving to though are places he also is interested in. It’s been confusing. He’s not particularly happy at his current job, but also doesn’t feel any urgency to leave it. He’s expressed that he’d be potentially interested in following me where I go, but has also stated that he doesn’t want to move just for me. It’s all perfectly reasonable and completely baffling.

Really, it gives me a false sense of hope when he tells me that he might look where I go next. It gives me a false sense of hope when he jokes about us getting engaged. He even hesitantly brought up fixing my housing crisis by us moving in together.

We have reached a crossroads, though.

My current situation is not sustainable. As I briefly mentioned, I moved in with my former supervisor once my housing through my internship was over. I lived there up until a week ago where I moved into an extra bedroom at a friend’s home. I haven’t had ownership of my cat since late January. While I am not paying rent, I had to save up to take my boards which I am only about to take in a week. I am unable to financially support myself out here for much longer without either getting more hours or finding a full-time position.

California has been magnificent in so many ways. When I made the choice to move out here, I took ownership for my life and my decisions. I was making choices for myself – big ones, too. I made a life for myself out here. I left everything I knew. I was able to find myself again, though. I joined a community band, a quartet, and a saxophone ensemble and rekindled my love for performing without anxiety. Over the span of my internship, I had a total of 5 anxiety attacks. 5. I used to have 5 of those in a 48-hour period on the regular. It was amazing. I was doing things I never thought I would do. I had the time of my life. California called and I answered with open arms. It is still the best decision I have ever made.

Lately, I’ve been making choices out of self-interest, but also to preserve the relationships I have made. I have started to lose myself in trying to maintain the life I’ve made for myself. It’s not sustainable and my health has started deteriorating.

I see patterns repeating. Increasing heart palpitations. Constant worry. Restlessness. Fatigue. Sleeping too much. Hopelessness. Lack of feelings of self-worth. Overeating. Agitation.

It’s been a rollercoaster since I found out the job I had planned post-graduation ceased to exist. I’ve had days of great triumph, remembering the confidence I had when I moved out here and everything I’ve accomplished over the last year. Mostly, I’ve had days of uncertainty. I’ve been holding out on the hope that Joel would be ready and wanting to go with me once he graduates in June. I’ve only now realized how foolish that was despite his disclaimers.

Today, I decided it was time to take things in my own hands again. I’ve made the mistake twice now of resting my fate on another person. This time, I’m doing what I need to before I get in too deep. I’m already in deeper than I should be. It’s not going to be easy. Already distancing myself from Joel is hard. Part of me knows I should cherish what remaining time we will have together and just enjoy the moment, but that’s hard to do when you think you can see the end in plain sight.

I met with Calvin for the first time since we broke up almost a week ago.

It was nice. Odd, but nice. He has completely immersed himself into his career. He was out here to give a masterclass and small performance through a friend of ours who is a professor at Fullerton. He’s been booked up over the last year performing, traveling, competing in music competitions, and school. He has taken on some students and has a very nice little studio for himself. He is trying to pay for most of his own way. He hasn’t had much time for anything not school or music related.

I asked if he had met anyone or even dated at all since we split. He told me that he hasn’t been able to meet anyone that compares to me. There isn’t anyone out there that understands him like I do. I encouraged him to move on. He will find someone. I know he will. I hope he does. He deserves happiness with someone else.

He taught me a lot. I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last year.

I’m ready for the next chapter.



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