I remember the moment well, around 1987-88. I was commuting from Arlington to a “real” job in Cambridge. At night I went out in Fanueil Hall with my friends. We were trying to meet shakers and movers with suits and BMWs. In the mornings we would all go to work in nylons and Reeboks, saving for our first condos. I remember the pair of snake skin heels I kept in my desk drawer to replace the sneakers when I got to the office. My boss, Gina Marie, had to take me aside several times to remind me to actually wear the shoes around the office. She snuck into my desk after I left at night and stuck post-its all over everything. She tried but always failed at teaching me to prioritize.
One day I got home and walked up to my front door. I didn’t want to go in. That was the moment it occurred to me out of nowhere (thank you God) that I didn’t want a shaker, a mover, or a condo. I realized my priorities were in fact fucked up. I had always wanted to travel and I never had. I quit my job the next day. Within the next year I was in the Peace Corps, in Tunisia. It changed my life forever. I never again wore heels. Neck ties and other good life choices lost their appeal. I wanted to be happy. Success would mean to be kind. My striving would be toward simplicity. Things that would set me free.