Quitting your life

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Have you ever wanted to quit your life? Have you ever done it? Where did you go? How did the people in your life respond? Was it worth it?

-- Sara Astruc (saraastruc@aol.com), June 12, 2000


I think that maybe that's what I'm about to do now. After spending the first eighteen years of my life in preppy Maryland suburbia, I want out. Had I elected to go to school only two hours away, my parents would have given me a car and graduate school. But I chose the more expensive option and on August eighteenth, I'll be on a flight to rural Iowa. I feel great about the decision now, though I do find myself feeling homesick already.

I mean, 900 miles away. I don't know a soul west of the Mississippi. I've never been near a farm, never endured wind-frozen winters. I get weird looks from classmates and friends' parents when I tell them I'm going to college in the middle of Iowa.

I don't know what I'm doing. But I'm glad I'm doing it.

-- Liz (flightless) (iseabal@hotmail.com), June 12, 2000.

I guess the answer really depends on what you mean by quitting my life. I'm used to travelling around, being unsettled, seeing different parts of the world, meeting and learning about different people. There's something safe about impermanence and holding life at arms length. I've quit that. I went home. The people in my life are enthusiastic. I don't know yet if it will be worth it. The point is to take a chance, isn't it?

-- Alejandro del Tashkent (huemera@cgu.edu), June 12, 2000.

november '98. sold everything. gave away what couldn't be sold. moved to the arctic with two boxes, two kids, and one computer. people thought i was nuts. some still do. i went "home" for a funeral two months ago and the question i most had to field was: when are you coming home? (read: are you over it yet?)it was worth it, but let me tell you that i am never starting from scratch with two kids ever again. this may be home now. it no longer feels like (self-imposed) exile. my biggest fear, that my daughter would relapse (leukemia) has faded. i don't have the life i had before she became ill, but i've made a new one -- which is better than none at all.

-- michele (microbe@ssimicro.com), June 12, 2000.

I believe I quit my life about 12 years ago but I still function in a more or less normal pattern at work and elsewhere. I did, however, find a new friend, a bicycle. Outside of the occasional flat tire it presents no difficulties for me. My spare time is spent peddling that sucker as far as I possible can. I will probably log about 10,000 miles this year and more next, I hope. Yes its been worth it. I do believe it may be my last stop along the way...to wherever Im headed though.

Long time lurker, Mike

"Consider a man riding a bicycle. Whoever he is, we can say three things about him. We know he got on the bicycle and started to move. We know that at some point he will stop and get off. Most important of all, we know that if at any point between the beginning and the end of his journey he stops moving and does not get off the bicycle he will fall off it. That is a metaphor for the journey through life of any living thing, and I think of any society of living things."

William Golding

-- Michael R. Morris (ekimmr@paloverde.com), June 12, 2000.

Who sings that song-- "Bi-cy-cle, Bicycle..."

Ya know which one I'm talking about? It doesn't translate well to paper and I can't remember any other lyrics.

-- Sara Astruc (saraastruc@aol.com), June 12, 2000.

Are you thinking of Queen, Sara?

-- muffet (muffet@xoommail.com), June 12, 2000.

Last night my best friend and I spent an hour talking about how desperately we both want to do just that. She's almost a senior at Notre Dame and has lived in South Bend her entire life. I have three years of school left and I'm feeling extremely uninspired. I don't think either of us will have the guts to head off into the great unknown until we have degrees under our belts, but when that time comes I hope I don't let anything hold me back.

-- Lauren (floweroffire@hotmail.com), June 12, 2000.

Yes. Yes. St. Lucia. I hated my life in NJ; was mad at my then-boyfriend for deciding to go to medical school in kansas city whithout even bringing it up with me first. he actually assumed i'd come along but i said no way. instead i took off to work at club med in st. lucia. i was originally going for a couple of weeks but i stayed on almost 6 months.

surprisingly, my mother was the most encouraging. my friends questioned me more. and of course the boyfriend.

-- Elisabeth (egrant@fs.com), June 12, 2000.

i have quit my life before, then got rehired at another time. left all i knew and moved to a place where none i knew. 3 years later, i know a lot! but, i think i am going to quit again here shortly. my 26th birthday is coming up, and it is time for something different again. and that doesn't mean the plugs i just got put into my ears. people get disappointed in you when you quit your life, but i think those people are actually envious of the freedom you can achieve quitting your life, and they don't have the balls to do it. doesn't everything turn out okay in the end? i thought so.

-- jill leonard (tamlincat@hotmail.com), June 12, 2000.

Muffett: Am I thinking of Queen? I may check Napster. Although, hearing that one lyric in my head, I think you're right. Thanks! I was beginning to think it was a memory from Sesame Street or something.

-- Sara Astruc (saraastruc@aol.com), June 12, 2000.

I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike. I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like...

Sara, I have had three good bouts of depression in my life where I have mentally quit my life. Thank God for good friends and great family who recognized I just wasn't myself anymore and got me the help I needed. I also thank my 5 adopted 'brothers' from college who taught me that there is adventure and intrigue around every corner; I just have to look for it. Living my life with that in mind has helped.

I also feel kind of guilty, re: your last journal entry. I can't tell if you included the site when you mentioned 'failing the people around you'. Do you sometimes feel like journalling (is that a word?) for us is a horrible burden? You have already had the most interesting life, and I love to read about it as it unfolds. I wouldn't, however, want to think that we the readers are the cause of any heavy anxiety for you.

Geez, I was kind of rambling there...sorry :)


-- Meg Stone (Meg_1837@yahoo.com), June 12, 2000.

Meg: No, I wasn't thinking of my readers as part of the burden. Just the people in my off-line life. When the site gets to be too much, as it sometimes does, I take a break.

And I don't mean to insinuate that the folks around me are a burden, per se. It's more like people were expecting certain things from me, and I constantly was depressed about not being able to live up to expectations. For example, Arthur thought my life would be more "normal" if I went back to work (after my surgery).

I needed to reset my brain to know what it was that I needed.

-- Sara Astruc (saraastruc@aol.com), June 12, 2000.

When I was 21, I dropped out of art school, went off of parental (financial) support, got a menial office job stuffing envelopes more than any other task, and began supporting my own self for the first time ever.

It was more like starting a life than quitting, in that it was the first substantial decision I made on my own behalf, ever. And my first, and still sweetest, taste of doing-what's-good-for-me liberation.

-- Michael (mwalsh@lynx.neu.edu), June 12, 2000.

I gave it all up 15 months ago. A great house in a lovely part of England, a pretty well paid job, company car.... you know the deal. The job was in mechanical engineering sales, and I had just had enough. I hated the stress, I hated my boss and above all the totally bullshit politics that had seemed to become an inherent part of daily life. For the first time in my life, I didn't want to go to work....I had always enjoyed working....but not any more. Throught my life, flying and aeroplanes had been a great interest. I had looked at being a pilot before...sure I was probably capable, but it is just so expensive. I couldn't do that : or could I ?????

Six years previous, at the age of 22, my life had changed, never to be the same again. My best friend of 18 years, Jamie, had finally lost his battle to cancer. He died three days after his 23rd birthday. My life just wasn't the same. Everything seemed different. Nothing seemed solid, or stable anymore. This experience had one overwhelming affect on me ... the realisation that we are here only once, and for potentially a short time.

You 'must' do what you want with your life. You only have one.

So I answered my own question with the strength I had found after the death of my friend.. "Yes, I could do it...and will."

So I gave it all up. Sold the house, resigned and sold everything I could sell to go to train as a pilot. My decision was met with differing responses by family and friends. Most said I was mad, had lost my mind to even consider giving up the comfortable life I had. One or two true friends stood by my decision, and understood how the events of my life had lead me to this decision.

I sit here now about 2 months to go until the end of my training, and although the hard task of actually finding a job is ahead of me, I feel for the first time, that the world is my oyster again. After the hell of my last job, and how it made me feel, the light at the end of the tunnel is visible. So mad or not, I've nearly done it!! And if I may, I'd just like to say, "Thankyou Jamie, you've done more for me than you'll ever know. I have felt like you have been beside me the whole way through. God bless you."

-- Tommy (tommysworld_uk@yahoo.co.uk), June 12, 2000.

Quitting is my middle name!

The first time I quit my life was the summer I decided to drop out of university (again) and move to Banff, and spend a winter in a ski resort. I didn't even know what province Banff was in - all I knew was that Ski magazine had rated it the best skiing in North America. I went with a few girlfriends, and we had a blast. Some of our friends back home definately did not *get it* though, especially when we ended up working as maids to pay our way - it was the whole "we don't work as maids, we HAVE maids" lecture.

It was a great decision. I was almost 20. After several cardiac accidents, a few strokes, and the hell of being a professional patient for 3 years, and all the work trying to pass as healthy, and normal, and just like everybody else, working a menial, no brainer of a job, and partying my face off every night for 8 months turned out to be exactly what I needed.

Suprisingly, most of my friends and acquaintences understood. Many of them told me they wish they had the nerve to join me. (yes, I realize that my adventure wasn't exactly like running off to join the foreign legion, but you have to understand that most of my friends back then were extremely sheltered suburban kids attending a country club of a university with me. Taking one step off of the path that starts at Sorority Rush and ends when you become president of the Junior League was just Unthinkable.)

The second time I quit my life was when I married my husband. And I realized then that every person who had something negative to say about that had had something negative to say about every other choice I had ever made, and so I ignored them. That was a huge leap - married on the first date, moving thousands of miles away from my friends, giving up my job, and my home. But so many wonderful things have come my way because I had the guts to just do exactly what I wanted to do, without worrying about what everyone else would think.

I think that 'quitting your life' is like a code phrase for stepping off of the narrow path that one's particular socio-economic status, peer group, or family have set down. Get off the path. Unless your secret heart's desire is to start pole-axing nuns, or something equally unpleasant, take off those fabulous Manolo Blahniks and start walking on the grass for a while.

-- 'Kritter' Thomas (kritter@sperare.com), June 12, 2000.

Kritter! You're back!

Um... I think I'll keep my MBs though, thanks everso.

-- Sara Astruc (saraastruc@aol.com), June 13, 2000.

Umm....if those shoes are a size nine, I will .....um...hold them for you...while you carouse on the grass.

And i will...ummm....take them to a nice farm, yeah, that's it, a nice farm, and they can run wild and free with the Ferragamos.

And I will make sure they are very safe. Especially if they are either turquoise or charcoal grey, as I have this sweater set that really needs an accessory with a little punch to it...

..um..I mean the farm, yeah I mean they are going to a nice farm, not my snuggly warm shoe closet. Yeah. A farm. A nice farm.

-- Kritter (kristin@sperare.com), June 13, 2000.

A lone python sandal with simple lines, roaming the prarie in search of its brethren...

Set my Manolos free!

-- Sara Astruc (saraastruc@aol.com), June 13, 2000.

Manolo's got nothing on Jimmy Choo. Trust me on this.

I quit my life over two years ago and moved from America to England. Because I could, and because I wanted to; it was the best thing I ever did for myself, and I'd do it again in a second.

-- Jackie Danicki (nein@freeuk.com), June 13, 2000.

Oh My God! As soon as I read the words "Jimmy" and "Choo" I got slush panties.

Is this the "quit your life" thread, or the "If I could just date my shoes, life would be fine" thread?

-- Kristin (kristin@sperare.com), June 13, 2000.

Ya wanna hear something scary? The first time I saw Jimmy Choo was on eBay, of all places. I was like, "Hmm... What are these shoes that cost $600?"

The path to destruction is paved with Jimmy Choo boots...

-- Sara Astruc (saraastruc@aol.com), June 13, 2000.

I started a new thread for the shoe discussion...

-- Sara Astruc (saraastruc@aol.com), June 13, 2000.

Hell yeah, have I ever felt like quitting my life! And recently, too.

I'm bored with 2 working two jobs (for the past 9 years), bored with the search to replace my second job that I've gotten laid off from, bored with my novel, bored with my website, bored with most of my friends. I wish I could wake up as someone else, just for a day. I would be pleased to wake up as my 19 year old self, all raven haired and green eyed and still a size 6. I'd put on my garnet red sari silk dress and my Kenneth Cole pumps (MB's being a bit much for my budget right now), go to a bar, pick up a beautiful, vacant boy and have at him.

*phew...pardon my vitriol...getting laid off and putting my dog to sleep makes me cranky* On the other hand, I would miss my husband terribly. We ARE planning to move to Hawaii for a year after I graduate, but that's 3-4 years away. The only drawback to this plan is that my mother lives there.

-- Blanche Blank (mireillie@eudoramail.com), June 14, 2000.

Sara! Pink column can go visit left column again! (and me!)

Quitting my life? Funny, I call it the "just go's." Every once in a while, I get struck with the idea that I should get in my car, start driving, and leave everything behind. Doesn't matter where I end up, or what I do when I get there, I just need a change on a global level.

Feeling very much like that right now. Hey, didn't you once offer to be my fabulous roommate in NYC, so we could both take the city by storm? I'd be happy to arrange your lawn furniture into attractive arrangements. I'd cook! I'd regale you with hilarious accounts of the cater-waiters I cruised all day long, while auditioning for shows.

Sara, what you need is a 32-year-old houseboy. I'll be faxing my resume shortly.

-- Patrick (xingcat@yahoo.com), June 14, 2000.

Oh, I would give anything to quit my life, just for the summer. I swear, I'd go back to work in September. Just give me one long, hot summer with nothing to do but read, write, take dance class and direct my annual Summer Shakespeare production. I really hate my job, and I have this big deadline coming up so there's no way I could take a leave of absence now; I could probably have one after the summer, but by then I will be completely insane and unable to enjoy it. I don't want to junk the whole thing. I just want some time off. I want a real summer. I guess I need a sugar daddy.

-- Noel (clydiebelle@aol.com), June 15, 2000.

I quit my life once. well actually more than once, but the time I actually moved away to get away from the crap and the vicious circle of friends, lovers, roomates (oh my!). I didn't go far, from the Philly 'burbs to Baltimore. I always explain the vicious circle I was caught up in and use that as the excuse but truthfully, I was running. Running from the pain caused by "the one". I was convinced he was it, I'd never felt so connected before. Our supposed relationship lasted over a year. And then I found it...his guest list for his wedding. He was getting married to someone else and had easily kept it from me because she was out of the country, out of state, wherever. I never got the same story on that detail. I didn't move from bed for weeks and just when I thought I couldn't cry anymore my hero, my gram passed away. I became dangerous and out of control. I drank too much. I hung out with loser boys. I treated myself like crap and let others do the same. And then, I could take no more of the daily dose of painful memories. Everywhere I looked was a memory of one of them. So I moved, I knew no one. I grieved properly and out of the spotlight of concerned friends and family who tiptoed around me, who became more concerned when I said I wanted to be alone. And one day, it was done. Suddenly I lived a whole day without wondering what he was doing. I began remembering all the lessons my grandmom had taught me, all the funny things she used to say. the morbid funeral memories faded. And now I'm back...in the Philly area, living in my grandmother's house and embracing my new happy life with my fiance. I don't know where the other one is and I don't care. I'm healthy enough now that I truly hope wherever he is, he's happy. I recommend Baltimore as a city to run to.

-- L (windyis@hotmail.com), June 16, 2000.

I don't want to quit my life so much as I want the ability to have several lives perking along in parallel, and I can drop in on each of them from time to time when the others get to be a bit much. This would let me have all my cakes and eat them too - all those decisions about love and life and work that I dissect in 4 a.m. post-mortems would play out in separate threads and I could see how they all spun out...

To get back to Sara's original queries: the closest I've ever come to quitting my life was moving cross-country on a whim. I left my job, the coast where I'd lived my entire life, all my family and friends, everything - to come out here and work for a startup with shaky finances.

I left Washington, D.C. for San Francisco, California. My friends and family were surprised that I up and did it, but they weren't surprised that it was me doing it, if that makes sense. Everyone still makes an effort to keep me looped into their lives, and vice versa, even if the time-zone deal makes spontaneous phone calls a tricky proposition.

Was it worth it? Oh, yes. I've had fabulous experiences I'd have never had back east. I have a great job. I've written two books. I met the man I'm going to marry. It hasn't been the easiest thing in the world to do, but leaving my old life and building this one has been the most rewarding thing I've ever done.


-- Lisa Schmeiser (lisa-nospam@schmeiser.com), June 16, 2000.

I used to have 2 very close friends, one was my best mate the other was my boyfriend. We were a close knit little group and they were my only friends. I broke up with my boyfriend after 2 years last June and was pretty gutted, after 3 months I felt like I was starting to recover when my best mate told me that her and my ex-bf had just got together and that they were in love. I tried to accept it, but due to fear my best mate avoided me and I was pretty much alone for 2 weeks. I was soooo depressed, everything had turned to shit. I was the piece in the jigsaw puzzle that didn't quite fit. I wanted to be friendly with my ex 'cause we go to the same college but he blanked me on the first day back. At that point I thought 'fuck it!' I wasn't going to be treated like shit anymore. I moved out of my parents house into a house with a girl from college and her friends. I ignored my best mate and her bf because I had to leave the past behind. It was my chance of a completely new start and I grabbed hold of it with both hands. I still get depressed from time to time but my life is sooo much better now, I've got loads more friends, I go out more, I'm more confident and much much happier than I ever was with my ex. I don't really trust blokes too much anymore and I don't want a relationship but that's okay because for the first time I'm not dependant on that. A nice kiss etc, is okay for now! I could have done something stupid to myself, and at that time the main thing that kept me alive was my fear of death. Fears can be good! Unfortunately sometimes you have to shut people out of your life to get on with it, but for me it was one of the most freeing and best things I have ever done! All I can say is 'Never give up, you can turn things around!'.

-- laura b (greenelephant_us@yahoo.co.uk), June 16, 2000.

How do I do this without a long, involved train wreck ? I was an only child desperately wanting siblings, Mama couldn't have more. Some where in there, something happened to me, then called "melancholy," something I fought a battle with the rest of my life. In 1986 ina confrontation, I admitted to myself that I was an alcoholic and underwent successful treatment, resumed my life.

About a year later, fighting depression still in what could possible called a fugue I attempted suicide at a time when I lost touch with reality, the attempt happened during that state - - no memories for a while.

In a way I quit life when alcohol was the only thing in my thoughts - - I did my work one foot in front of the other, longing for the next drink, in a state of denial.

The second attempt to leave was almost successful, to the point they couldn't seem to find a place to put an IV. So back to the same facility for a little bit.

I was put on medication which kept me going, with uncomfortble side effects. When the right medication was prescribed, the world came right side up and the sun began to shine 24 / 7 for me.

That is the bare bones story of trying to quit, the play by play is quite long and boring and not of interest even to a psychiatrist - because it was a chemical imbalance.

Advice to others, there is a better way than drink or death. Get happy by whatever means you can.

-- Denver doug (ionoi@webtv.net), June 16, 2000.

Three times.

Once when I was a senior in college. I found a way to do my last 2 classes by corespondence, packed up my 2 cats and moved as far away from there as I could get. I made new friends, found a new job, met and eventually married my husband. It was the smartest thing I've ever done in my life.

The second time was with my husband. Quiting your life with your significant other is surreal. It takes on a sort of "us against them" type vibe. We picked up and moved us and our combined 3 cats 2400 miles away to Seattle. We made new friends, got new jobs and had a baby. It was the second smartest thing we've ever done.

This last time is still in progress, we just picked up and moved the cat's, baby and ourselves back to Texas. Gonna build a house and finally put down roots, I guess our wandering days are over.

-- Kerri (eslove@att.net), June 16, 2000.

I would love to quit my life right now.

Actually, what I'd like is to have someone step in for me for the next couple of months and take care of all the things I have to do that I don't want to do, like go to work. She would be my double, like in the movie Multiplicity (without the dumb one).

She would go to work and keep the house clean. I would work on my projects and plan the wedding. And, of course, I get to go to the wedding and on the honeymoon. She'll stay home and take care of the dogs.

Wouldn't that be great?

-- Colleen (triggirl@yahoo.com), June 20, 2000.

I quit my life in May, 1999. I was 24 and in grad school in the south, working on a PhD. *He* was working on a Masters in the midwest. We would occasionally drive the 14+ hours to see each other. On Valentine's Day (1999), I was driving back from a rendezous, crying furiously as I drove through Missouri, miserable that I had to leave him again. I decided that the pain of driving back and forth was too much, and informed him during my "I'm home safely" call that I would leave school and move to the midwest as soon as I got the chance. I finished my Masters and left days after the spring semester ended.

Now I'm in the midwest, considering a completely different academic course, engaged, in love, probably not appreciating enough the joy of being with him every day.

Best decision I ever made. : )

-- Tracy (me@belles-lettres.org), June 21, 2000.

I quit my life once before, with mixed results. I spent about two years alone and hungry, but I made great friends who are still with me. I'd love to quit again, at least the job. Between politics and incompetents, I'm finding myself ready for a change. I've decided to take the month of July off. I'm taking a road trip across the US. I'll see if 8,000+ miles of driving can distract me.

-- Rick (nesenrik@bellsouth.net), June 22, 2000.

Many times, and I will again in the future: 1986: Going to college was like quitting my life as a child. 1990: military service, oh shit, they took my life??!! 1992: College over, now what? I'm so unsatisfied. Leave everything, move to China. For more than 2 years i lived in a completely different world. I was a different person, I had a new Life. 1994: Got bored, got sad, got depressed once more. I'm so unstisfied. Back to Belgium. 1995: I cannot take this anymore. Sold everything, said goodbye, New World here I come, New York City, my life is like never before. 2000: what's next?

-- Bob van Pelt (bob@lackadays.com), June 22, 2000.

Oh and one more thing: I like the idea that i am not afraid to quit my life. I live my life every day, knowing that if things go wrong, if things go bad (I'm a bit of a negative person, and a pessimist, though most people don't know it) I can always pack up and leave, go somewhere else. Come to think of it, I don't really have a place I call "home." (but I do like New York City very, very much) b0b0

-- Bob van Pelt (bob@lackadays.com), June 22, 2000.

Do short mental "vacations" count?

-- Presha (pas4938@ksu.edu), June 28, 2000.

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-- Sara Astruc (astruc@astruc.com), September 10, 2000.

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