I knew as soon as I spotted him perched on a pedestal in a local antique shop, that all I needed to quit my job was a 2-foot tall concrete gargoyle. I made a beeline for him, plotting all the places he could live.
I would build him a wooden stand, something worthy of him, so that he could look down on my writing desk at home. He’d be the motivation to finish the novel that had been eating at me for over a year: a novel inspired by a Kansas City haunted house guarded by a pair of gargoyles. Or he could live in my garden, a little hidden gothic among the softness of daisies and irises, something to inspire late afternoon writing sessions from my deck. Or I could convince my husband to help me smuggle him into my work office on a weekend – the place where I needed him most. I’d look up at him watching me from the filing cabinet, and I’d find the courage to write the resignation letter that would free me from a job I’d outgrown and a paycheck I was afraid of losing.
I mentally estimated his weight. Would he be hollow or solid concrete? How would I wrestle him to my car by myself? I checked my watch: 4:02. If I guarded him for the next 28 minutes, my husband would be off work and could help me load him. Some things are destiny, and I was certain that this gargoyle was mine.
Unfortunately, the little tag attached to his wing said NFS. I racked my brain for an acronym that meant I could still have him, but the too-cheerful shopkeeper confirmed he was Not for Sale. I retreated to the back of the shop to weigh my options. I could write a letter to the owner explaining why I needed him, something to pull at the heartstrings. I could offer $1,000 and eat ramen noodles for the next month.
Stepping outside where the shopkeeper couldn’t overhear, I called my husband. “Hypothetically, if I stole a gargoyle and got arrested, would you post bail for me?” My husband responded calmly, but he did talk me out of it. In the end, it wasn’t really a practical option anyway. Not only do I have an overdeveloped guilt complex, one does not just grab a heavy concrete statue and make a break for the door.
All weekend, I moped. When the workweek rolled around, I remained despondent. I confided my loss to my friend on our weekly walk. We were both on the verge of job changes, and we often spent our walks commiserating, comparing job search plans, and cheering each other up. That day, she helped me brainstorm ways to get my very own gargoyle without resorting to a life of crime. Later, I half-heartedly checked online for concrete lawn ornaments, but I soon moved on to other things.
By the time my friend gave her notice several weeks later, I had formulated a plan for leaving, one that included my two loves: teaching and writing. But for a girl who grew up working class, leaving behind a stable, well-paying job for an adjunct position and a rough novel outline was terrifying. I found myself constantly wavering, full of doubts. On her last day in the office, my friend left a gift on my desk – a framed photograph of a concrete gargoyle – along with a note on the back that said, “You got this.” He was enough to grant me the courage to leap.