Single In The Suburbs, Installment 136

Sara’s worst fears are realized; she’s been laid off. Now she’s got to figure out how to tell Ethan and file for unemployment in a terrible economy.

By Sara Susannah Katz

To read the entire series of articles from the beginning, click here.

n our last installment, our columnist’s worst fears came to pass: Sara has been laid off. Craig knows, but Ethan doesn’t, and Sara’s so shell-shocked she has no idea how to move forward. Can’t she catch a break?

Wednesday, 3 p.m.
The Office Lounge is a local bar and the name is supposed to be a big joke because if you come home
I decide that this isn’t the end of my career.
late and your spouse wants to know where you’ve been, you can say you were at “the office” and you wouldn’t be lying.

The woman who’s just made the announcement in my company bathroom looks at me and asks if I just got laid off, too. I nod my head and she says, authoritatively, “Then you are coming with me. I’ll drive.”

There is something tempting about completely obliterating my senses in commiseration right now. I don’t want to think. I don’t want to feel. I just want to go to sleep and wake up to find that this was all a bad dream.

“That’s OK,” I tell her. “I’m just going home.”

And that’s exactly what I do. And as I’m driving home I decide that this isn’t the end of my career, it’s the beginning of a fabulous new adventure.

Sure it is.

Ethan had said he’d call me after his last job today; apparently he’s creating a new, custom-designed fireplace for these millionaires who want him to make the whole thing out of bits of smashed glass they’ve collected from all over the world. Or maybe they collected the glass and smashed it when they got home. Either way, he said he’d call when he was finished.

I know I should tell him I got laid off today, but I feel weird about it. I mean, we’re still a new couple (we are a couple, right?) and I don’t want to burden him with bad news. At least, not yet. It would be like telling him I have some kind of serious disease. It’s just sooooo heavy and depressing. Worse, I’m afraid that it will make me look vulnerable and needy.

On the other hand, this is the big headline of the day. And if we’re meant to be together, surely he needs to know what’s going on in my life, right? And
The news is all bad so I switch to HGTV.
yet, I don’t want him to feel like he needs to counsel me or comfort me, not now, not yet — maybe not ever.

The kitchen phone rings. It’s Ethan, and I blurt out the bad news before he can even say hello. “I lost my job!”

“Aww, honey. I’m so sorry. Man. I’m sorry. Are you okay? Are you home? Can I come over?”

I think, Alright, this is a good response. Empathy, support, concern: I like it. I tell him I need a little time to decompress by myself (and make a mental note that even this is a sign of my emotional progress).

After I’ve hung up the phone I do a quick scan of my sweet little bungalow and I’m filled with sudden panic. I love this house. I don’t want to lose it. Since my divorce I’ve traded in a McMansion for a bungalow, my small SUV for a tiny compact car, given up the luxuries of dry cleaning, manicures, professional hair coloring, landscaping and soft toilet paper. I’ve traded Nordstrom for Goodwill, dinners out for home-cooked meals, name-brand peanut butter for generic. I haven’t bought new shoes in a year. I used to buy three or four pairs at a time whenever the spirit moved me. Am I living at the poverty line? No. I am not ready to drag a mattress under the highway just yet. I realize that there are many people in far worse straits and I’m grateful for everything I do have. But as I peek into the great black void of my future and hear all the horror stories about marketing executives who are now working as pizza delivery drivers, I can’t help but wonder how (or if) I’m going to survive.

I go to the kitchen for a glass of water and switch on the TV. The news is all bad so I switch to HGTV, hoping for some mindless entertainment. And there it is, clear as day: a sign.

Attention, faithful fans of Single in the Suburbs! Our writer, Sara, will be winding down her column with the final installment scheduled to appear in October 2010. We’d love to hear how the ongoing saga of Sara’s love life has affected you personally. Have you tried online dating yourself? Have you struggled to re-enter the dating world after the end of a long-term relationship? Did Sara’s story encourage you to get out there and date again? Send your thoughts to Your comments and stories may be included in a follow-up article discussing the series’ overall impact and what Sara sees for herself in the future.

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 137

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