In May 2010, after months of agonizing over the decision, I quit my job.
What drove me to that extreme step? Since the previous August, I’d been living and working in Phoenix while my life partner went to school in Flagstaff. I have “been there, done that” with long-distance relationships since I was 4 years old. Frankly, I’ve served my time.
“I can’t keep doing this,” I finally admitted to my boss. “So I have to quit.” Quit getting paid to edit a magazine I love? Quit writing about and photographing Arizona’s wildlife and wild places? What was I thinking? Nature and writing are the twin passions of my life: Making up my mind to walk away was among the hardest things I’d ever done.
Last week, I went to the Vermilion Cliffs in northern Arizona to write about and photograph California condors — for the magazine. Yes, I’m still employed, and no, I’m no longer living in Phoenix, away from my partner.
What happened, you ask? Back in May, when he heard that I was leaving and why, one of my managers asked me what seems like a simple question. “What if you could live in Flagstaff and keep the job?”
I laughed when he said it, thinking he was joking. As far as I knew, nobody ever left the Phoenix headquarters and took their job with them. But he floated the idea on up the chain of command, and the answer came back from on high, “Yes, she can take the job with her.”
So here I am, sharing space with my partner, working from our home in the ponderosa pine forest. I’m still getting paid to find the places where words and pictures intersect to express something profound (or at least mildly interesting!) about the natural world.
It just goes to show, when you throw the whole deck of cards up into the air, you never know how they’ll fall.