Three weeks later
I decide to keep my day job for a bit, just to keep us afloat. Silly of me, because how can there possibly be enough time for both?
After countless hours of preparation, I open my shop close to the beach and affectionately name it Treasures by the Sea. Nestled less than a mile from the ocean on state road 513, it seems to suit it perfectly.
On the morning of the grand opening day, my nerves climb higher than a hooker on a busy evening. By the end of the day, I realize I can’t possibly do both, my job and this. I’m not sure why I ever thought I could.
It will take a week’s worth of painting just to refill this place. Not to mention, I haven’t technically quit my job yet. Just mostly inside my head.
“There is no way I can balance all of this,” I say turning to Jose. “I feel like an idiot for thinking that I can balance both.”
His expression says duh shit, but he doesn’t say it. Instead, he quickly agrees. “It’s too much.”
“You’re right,” I say. “I think I need to quit my job completely.”
Jose’s eyes widen. I can see him swallowing. I’m so focused on his bobbing Adam’s apple, that I barely hear what he’s saying.
“If that’s what you think you need to do,” he says.
Suddenly I think perhaps he’s crazy too.
That Following Monday
Sitting across from my boss in his office, I know my reason to leave is multifold but I still struggle to put it into words. As soon as the words leave my lips, the disappointment on his face is evident.
”It isn’t your management choices or anything that you can change or do. It’s me, not you.” I say giggling nervously.
“What if we make you the sales manager of the Orlando branch?” He offers, folding his hands together on his desk.
I shake my head.
“It’s not the money or recognition,” I explain. “It’s me. I need to leave. I need to chase my dream.” As soon as I hear me say it, I know it sounds cheesy as fuck.
“Are you sure this isn’t about Dave?” He asks skeptically.
I shake my head softly.
“Barry, I’m so sorry. There’s nothing you can offer me. As crazy as this is, it’s just something that I need to do.”
He slowly nods.
“Well,” he says. “The door is always open if you want to come back. Remember that.”
I give him a soft smile.
“I will,” I promise as I turn to leave.
Gathering my things, I hastily leave his office before I change my mind.
It’s time to sink or swim.
Less than twenty-four hours later, the panic starts to set in as I realize what I’ve done. My anxiety tells me to stop what I’m doing and run, right back into Barry’s office and beg for my job back, but I don’t. Instead, I grab my keys and head to the beach.
I briefly contemplate the million ways this all can go wrong but a voice floats through my head like a song.
“Make a wish. Take a chance. Make a change. Breakaway.”
I quickly realize it is a song. A Kelly Clarkson song. Still, maybe she is on to something.
Sure, I lack a business plan and common sense, but suddenly it all seems like the best idea on the planet. It isn’t. It’s irrational at best. Even I know this, I decide to go through with it anyway. Call me committed to crazy.
As I’m standing in the paint aisle at Lowe’s the next morning, I find myself hoping that I’m not making the biggest mistake of my life.
“Want to look at the pretty colors?” I ask Kalynn.
She smiles up at me from the cart.
Scanning the various paint shades in front of me, I sigh in disappointment. None of them are exactly what I need.
Maybe I can mix them.
Drawn to various shades of green, I gather the examples in my hands. Turquoise mostly. Aqua. Mint. My eyes shift to the shades of blue.
How I love shades of blue. It’s calming. It’s pretty. It’s happy. All the things I am hoping one day to be. Maybe it’s even the color of hope for me but in color therapy, it represents calm and peace. Both are welcomed by me.
Settling on a few sea-themed shades, I place the remaining shades back in their prospective places and listen to the babbling of Kalynn. Smiling at her ramblings, I start to make my way to the mixing counter. After a couple of minutes of standing in line, Kalynn begins to squirm and I do too.
The clerk moves quickly and I’m grateful for this as Kalynn is growing more restless by the minute. When he’s done, he hands me my paint with a smile. I thank him and return to the paint aisle.
Pacing the aisle, I gather brushes and various things I need.
Need. Want. All the same really. The lies we tell ourselves.
Staring at the brushes I contemplate buying one of each. As I’m seriously contemplating this, a woman stops me in the aisle.
“Oh, are you an artist?”
“Um, not exactly,” I answer.
Is there paint all over me?
Glancing down at my clothes, I realize they are actually clean and free of paint.
How did she know?
“Keep painting,” she says to me with a wink.
“Um, I will. Uh, thank you.” I answer awkwardly.
Kalynn’s toy falls to the floor and I bend down to scoop it up. I hand the toy back to Kalynn and turn back to the mysterious woman. “How did you- “
My voice trails off as I realize she’s gone.
I look both ways, up and down the aisle, trying to see which way she went, but the aisle is empty. It’s just me and Kalynn.
Confused, I shake my head and toss the brushes into my cart. While we are at the checkout counter, I find myself still looking for her. Because of this, I don’t notice the clerk calling me.
“Ma’am?” The clerk says.
Following the sound of his voice, I find him staring directly at me. I realize then that he’s talking to me.
Ma’am? When did I become a ma’am? What happened to Miss?
Brushing it off, I gather my bags from the counter and thank him.
“Are you excited, Kalynn?” I ask glancing at her briefly in the review mirror on the drive to my shop.
Smiling big, she squeals in agreement. She’s too young to understand which almost makes it better. Almost. I want to share this moment with somebody, but all the grown-ups think I’m crazy.
I plug the address into my GPS.
“Turn right onto state road 513,” my GPS says. “Your destination 1301 South Patrick Drive is on the left.”
Pulling up, I notice the parking lot is mostly empty. When I put the key in the lock, it doesn’t turn immediately. I give it an aggressive shove and I can feel the lock shift, but the door is seemingly stuck. I give it a harder shove. The wind catches it and blows it open, nearly knocking me and Kalynn down with it. Scooping her up, I set her inside with her sippy cup while I finish unloading my things from the car.
Moving swiftly, I unload everything and begin painting. Kelly Clarkson plays softly from my phone. I find myself singing along. “Some people wait a lifetime, for a moment, like this.”
“We need a real radio, huh, Kalynn?”
She giggles at me in agreement. Turning the volume up, I finish the first coat.
I spend the next several weeks painting my fins off.
Weekend after weekend, as the sales roll in, I think, surely it can’t be this easy.
The funny thing is: it isn’t easy at all. It’s just fun. The amount of work up until this point is certainly more than my standard nine-to-five but I’m so hooked on design, it doesn’t even matter to me anymore.
I can’t help but notice that this creative outlet has awakened something inside me that has been dormant for years.