A few days ago, I had an “a-ha” moment, one of those light bulb going off in my mind, but more like one of those movie spotlights that showcases some event and criss-crosses in the sky to be seen for miles—only to shine directly in my light-sensitive pupils. The “a-ha” told me, “It’s time,” whereby I replied, “But I’m not ready.” And it said, “You’ll never be ready, so do it now.” This little conversation in my mind was referring to separating my self from the old Realty-Lady me. I’m still getting heart palpitations just writing about it.
Though I hung up my license over a year ago, my name and face have still been on ‘my’ team’s branding and marketing. We’ve left it there for several reasons: in case I changed my mind and came back to work (i.e., this not-mid-life crisis came to an end, and I regained my right realty senses); we were lazy and thrifty in having to deal with the inconvenience and cost of rebranding; and I had been a top realtor with a large past client database that (we imagined) took comfort in my being still connected with the team.
But with this blog out there, me out of town and word getting around, those reasons were waning, as were the ‘leads’ I was generating. When my long-time (7-year) assistant quit last week, and we, the team, were left with “now what?” I knew it only a matter of time before bigger changes were inevitable. I knew my assistant had wanted to quit for a while, but rather than be proactive about it, I waited it out, which was lazy and weak. I didn’t want to allow my turning a blind eye to happen with the next stage of the team’s evolution, so I initiated the ball rolling.
“It’s almost the end of the year, and my real (read: crazy) me memoir is coming out in January; it might be a good time to distance myself from the team.”
The team agreed. I remember almost 10 years ago when Blossom, one of the realtors on my team, was working as an assistant, and I told her, “It’s time to get your real estate licence. It’s time to let go of the edge of the pool. You’re ready!”
As her nickname implies, she flowered into an amazing realtor (and person) and friend, as did her teammate, Dickers, who is also one of my closest friends, and who’d stuck it out with me through the years. They are more than capable of taking over the reins in full and probably have been for a while, had it not been for that cozy comfort zone.
After I hung up my real estate licence, I was still able to use the profession as my ‘what I do’ identity. So, yesterday, after we decided this is the direction it’s going, I had a total freak out. I haven’t been this scared since I started in real estate back in 1992. Seriously. I wasn’t nervous selling my house, possessions, and car and south-tailing my ass to Cali, but this is it. The end of Realty Lady. (Um, note: If you need a realtor, I still get a small residual if I send them a client, so if you like reading my writing please mention I sent you so I can continue to feed myself while blogging about this on-going. so-not-a-half-life crisis. Thank you in advance! Carry on.)
After a little cry, I decided that if I can do this, let go of my ego-identified self—on purpose—then I can start getting out of my comfort zone in other areas. So, last Friday night, in celebration, I took myself out for a drink. At a bar. Solo. Maybe this is no biggy to you, but it is to me, so it counts. Courage isn’t courage without fear, no matter the stakes. What were the stakes? Glad you asked … being judged, being rejected (if I actually attempted to speak to someone), and basically being Geeky Geekerson.
To be fair, it was only 5:30pm, so it’s not like I strode solo into a nightclub of techno tunes and Ibiza clad babes (as in very young and as in very sexy). But still. Since, I was the only one there for a while—apparently bar attendees are happier at a later hour—I talked with the bartender.
“How long have you been a bartender?”
“Do you love it?”
“Yeah, it is your passion?”
“No, but it pays for my passion.”
“Something you’ll find totally surprising in this town. Acting.”
I laugh, “I just quit my job of 20 years. It’s scary as fuck.”
He laughs, “I used to be a lawyer.”
This surprises me, “Wow. And you’re glad you made the change, even though you may never feed yourself with your passion?” He slumps. I add, “Hey, there’s hopeful and then there’s realistic detachment from outcome.”
He gets it: “Yeah, of course, one has to hope and persevere, but at least I get to do it in my spare time, the acting that is.”
He prefers screen to stage simply because it doesn’t interfere with his day job, err, night job, actually.
This morning I woke up feeling a little better. I tell Mermaid about what’s happened, and she says, “That’s great! It’s exactly what you wanted. Right? You did say that just the other day.”
I sigh, “Yes, but—”
“No buts! It’s the perfect scenario. Now you can do something else. Or nothing! Work is highly over-rated.”
I acquiesce: “True. I have time to figure it out. But I’m still freaking out.”
“I have something for you. I was saving it, but I’m going to give it to you now.” She leaves and comes back with a small, pink bird with ornament string. It’s hand-made and adorned with pink sequins.
Mermaid tears up. (Note: Mermaid will tear up at a seeing a leaf fall in a—any—certain way, i.e., she leaks easily.) I tear up. (Note: I don’t tear up easily or publicly. By publicly, I mean in front of anyone.)
I choke the words out, “I love it. It’ll be my inspiration: the brave, little bird. I need to hang it where I’ll see it every day to remind me.”
She disappears down the hall and returns with a string of gold sequins (and more tears). I hang it over my bed.
Needing solitude and sun solace, I skip yoga and go for a bike ride on the Santa Monica Boardwalk, which I haven’t done for a while as the weather has been (relatively) cold, and I’m suffering a sluggish thyroid caused by adrenal failure, which causes poor circulation due to years of stress as Realty Lady. The air is fresh and wispy clouds are in the sky with sunlight shining through, God’s fingers tickling the sea and lifting my spirit. I breathe deeply and find peace.
On my way back, I see a man walking up from the beach and for an instant think it’s The Gerry (well-known actor), which is unlikely because I’m in no place in my life to be ready to meet The Gerry and not just because I have greasy hair and swass (sweaty ass).
It’s not The Gerry. For a second instant, I think it’s Mountain Jim, which is also unlikely because Mountain Jim lives in Canada. Mountain Jim is a man I didn’t date but who, after meeting on a dating site and plenty of phone conversation, flew to my town to meet me with whittled wedding ring in hand, only for us to both learn that dating sites don’t account for in-person chemistry. In all fairness, I did ask for him to send me a t-shirt so I could examine pheromones, but the dude washed the damn shirt before sending. (Note to men: If a girl asks for a sweaty gym shirt to be sent in an airtight plastic bag, she is not asking for a freshly-laundered-in-Tide-Mountain-Fresh-Scent shirt.)
Anyway, Mountain Jim is very outdoorsy. (The whittling is one thing, also he has a wolf. That’s pretty mountain-y fresh.) Anyway, for a split second, I think this guy is Mountain Jim who has followed me to L.A. (This narcissistic assumption is based on another such recent real-life example of a different fellow who recently texted me with: “But I quit my job of 15 years to impress you. I need to see you.” So, no, it’s not just shit I make up in my fat ego head. I should note that #2 is happy he’s taking time off from his 15-year career and I think I was just the scapegoat for such.) (Note: Either way, this is another reason for supporting romantic celibacy.)
Anyway, even though it’s not Mountain Jim, the dude still looks familiar and is kinda cute. He’s about 40 feet away, so I circle back through a parking lot to get a better look at him. By the time I get back, he’s sitting on a bench with his buddy who I hadn’t noticed right away and who is also attractive (though he certainly could’ve turned out to be his lover. Alas, he didn’t and, even if he had, no harm in admiring a couple of ‘mos—that’s polite redneck logger’s daughter slang for homos, no ill intent, it simply flows better. Don’t get all uptight ‘mo on me, now.) Anyway, as I’m cycling by the second time, I say, “Just circling around for a second look,” and Not Mountain Jim says, “Good morning” all good natured and friendly.
And I keep riding for another 200 feet all the while talking to the voices in my head. “I kind of want to talk to him— them?” “But what if I’m rejected?” “So what, bonus get-out-of-comfort-zone points!” “You’ve got a point there.” “I’ve got a point there.” “Am I crazy?” “Yes, yes we are.”
So, anyway, I’ve pulled my bike over, and I’m nodding and bobbling my head as though I’m actually having a conversation with another person, not just one of the mes in my noggin, and people are looking at me like I’m from Venice, so I pull myself together and turn around and go back. Again.
I pull up and say, “I’m back.” And I think they say, “Hello,” but I’m not sure because now I’m a little nervous having not thought out this part the plan. I babble a little more: “Um, I don’t usually do this, especially since I’ve got greasy hair and swass, but I’m all about getting out of my comfort zone today, and so I’m going to join you fellows for a few minutes if that’s okay. Shove over.”
The guys are kind—if not really that interested—and we chat for a while about this identity crisis I’m having, and I tell them, “Your homework is to get out of your comfort zone.”
And Not Mountain Jim who looks around 40 says, “We just ran the down to the pier and back and had a dip in the ocean.” But since they’ve done that before and there’s no fear, it doesn’t count. After a while, Buddy, who appears to be in his early-mid 30s, makes a comment about parking meters, and I realize I’ve overstayed my welcome, and we all shake hands. I shove my blog business card on them both, and they take it graciously, and we all make our ways. I decide they’re both too young for me, which is probably a psychological ego self-protection mechanism. (How fortunate that I have this ability!)
I’m riding home when it dawns on me why the dude looks familiar. I boot up the stairs anxious to tell Mermaid about my brave mini adventures on the Boardwalk and beam excitedly, “I just got rejected by Luke Wilson and I think I’ll be okay!”
And she laughs and says, “I think you’ll survive.”
I Google Luke Wilson to find out he’s been with his pro Volleyball player gorgeous girlfriend for 5 years. I have added additional ego-saving note to self as such: he so totally would have been inappropriate with me—he was totally unflirty and couldn’t wait to get away (but was exceptionally polite)—had he not been such an honourable man. (Truth: Sometimes self-fibs are good for the soul.)
Self-Query for Finding Courage in the Face of Beyond the Comfort Zone:
What’s the worst that could happen? Whatever the answer: I can deal with that.
Is this a realistic fear (getting in a van with a man that smells like sea bass—the van not the man) or is this an emotion-based fear (rejection, failure, looking like a dork, etc.)? If the latter: I can deal with that.
What’s the best that could happen? Whatever the answer: I so can deal with that!
I will survive as Not Realty Lady.
What have I (re)learned?
1. I am the bravest Geeky Geekerson on the Santa Monica Boardwalk (today). Bonus points for that.
2. Opening with, “’I’ve got ‘swass’ might not be the best pick-up line.” (Though, technically, it wasn’t a bench pick-up scene, and I’m still off the market, even for The Gerry—unless I actually meet The Gerry, then I totally recant this limitation.)
1. Look for ways to get out of my comfort zone.
2. Pick up better wicking sweats.
3. Start watching TV and movies again so I know who’s who in La La Land. (It’s been almost 10 years, okay 8 but still.) Surprise: Actors are in the dealbreaker category. “Why?” You ask. Um, hello, I’m not that secure and they, like, do love scenes with hot screen starlets! Duh. (Truth: The Gerry is rumoured to be the worst for this, so he’s totally out, and I wouldn’t even flash him a bare ankle.)
Additional Note: Buddy is cute, but I’m off the market, and he’s too young. Yeah, that’s it.
Additional 2nd Note: I’m not 100% sure it was Luke Wilson, but I’m like 95% sure, in other words, I’m sure enough because if it wasn’t Luke Wilson then it was guy who looked a lot like him and had the same first name and if it wasn’t him then I was rejected by Not-The-Gerry-Not-Mountain-Jim-Not-Luke-Wilson. And Buddy. If that’s the case then my fallback save-my-ego plan returns to: they are broke back beach ‘mos. I can deal with that.
Additional 3rd Note: Even though – Hello! – No one enjoys rejection (unless they are sado- massochists, but I’m no expert there) that doesn’t mean I’m on the market, so to speak. And, yes, I have a ready repertoire of self-esteem savers.
Memoir Title of my future: Elderly Lady and Her Cats.