I’ve been thinking alot lately about why I work.
My maternity leave from August to December last year was the first time since I was 15 that I’ve had so much consecutive time to myself.
Granted, that time to myself was largely spent changing diapers and pushing a pram through the park. But still, it was week after week of 40 hours NOT spent locked down at a desk.
And the thing that amazed me the most about it was that I never once got bored.
Ok, yes, there was the whole new mother thing happening. But putting the baby metaphorically aside for the moment, the point is that I had no trouble filling my days. Each morning was a gift of “What are we going to do today?”
The aforementioned walks in the park became a big deal, something I always looked forward to. And there were poems to write and cinépoems to edit and a yard to putter around in and if there had been a dog on the premises, there would have been even more to do.
But then my time was up and here I am again, surrendering 40 precious hours to the machine.
I can’t tell you how many times since December 8th I’ve sat in meetings listening to marketing muckety-mucks arguing about what headline I should write to get people to buy a bunch of crap they don’t really need. And all I’m thinking is, “I could be pushing a pram through a park right now.”
So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I work.
And the answer lies on the tip of a western peninsula, within the seven by seven miles that I call home… San Francisco, where the majority of residents are renters because buying a home is too expensive.
When Bruce and I pulled up stakes in Illinois ten years ago, we knew the move was permanent. There has never been any looking back, not even in 2001 when I got laid off six times in a row. (In any recession, it seems the copywriter is always the first to go.)
More than any other place on earth I’ve been, San Francisco is home.
Before Lucette arrived, I didn’t mind working. I have always tried to find the most creative word-wrangling job I can to finance the life I love to live.
But now that our family is one person larger, I have begun to begrudge those workaday hours. And so I have to remind myself why I do it.
Because I don’t have to work.
We could always move somewhere cheaper. Perhaps a nice cul-de-sac in a beige suburb where everyone drives the .05 miles to the neighborhood Wal-Mart.
But the dream was never to hie westward and settle in San Mateo. Or Oakland, Alameda, Fresno or Dinuba.
The dream is San Francisco. And it’s a dream I want to give to my daughter.
I want her to grow up here, in this beautiful city, surrounded by people of all races, creeds, languages and sexual orientations. I want her to wake up to the salt air of the ocean, to sleep to the sound of the foghorns.
I want her to have the Golden Gate in her backyard and the mountains within reach. I want her to own the wealth of used bookstores and know the wonder of world-class ballet.
I want her to eat more food from Farmer’s Markets than McDonald’s. I want her to wear out her walking shoes. I want sand on her toes and sun in her hair.
I want her to disagree without being disagreeable. I want her to know that it’s ok to be different.
I want what all parents want — to give their child the world. The difference is that in San Francisco, I can actually give it to her. Because the world lies just outside our front door.
And that is why I work. For Lucette. For San Francisco. For the dream.
-Lo, whose paychecks fuel freedom