I met Stacy for an early morning breakfast at the Jimmy’s Egg near my house. The place was empty. I’ve never been a fan of Jimmy’s Egg, but I quickly learned that Stacy is.
I’ve known her for years – and through some difficult times in her life. But she and I have never sat down one-on-one and just talked. Our differences were reflected in how we dressed our coffee – mine black and hers looking more like sugar-milk than anything else.
“What’s new?” I asked as we cracked open the menus.
She reminded me she had resigned her long-held job at GameStop. She is now working at a daycare, which surprised me. I never thought of her as one to want to work with kids. And she admits that, to an extent, it’s somewhat out-of-character for her. Stacy doesn’t want her own kids. Even from the beginning she says that “wasn’t even a consideration.”
But she enjoys the eccentricities and wonder present in children. Watching others learn can be an educational experience for the observer.
Stacy ordered her usual: a loaded omelet with “sprinkle cheese.” I went overboard and asked for eggs over-easy, bacon, potatoes, biscuits and gravy. My eyes were bigger than my appetite.
“When you’re a woman, there’s pressure [to have children],” she said. Stacy spoke about the times she’s been shamed about neglecting her “responsibility” to rear children. She says there is a presumption that women should make use of the life-bearing gift of their womb. But she prefers other people’s kids. In a lot of ways, I agree. I love being an uncle – and the lacking responsibilities in my role.
Stacy has moved from OCCC to UCO, where she is working on a degree in Management Information Systems, a network security focus. She’s already heard “That’s not really a thing that girls do.”
“A lot of my problems stem from being a woman,” Stacy said. Working in a male-dominated field –retail video game sales– she experienced harassment, sexism, and other discrimination. She’s learned to document everything she encounters. She’s learned to have proof when you’re being wronged. She says she considers herself a feminist — though not in the traditional sense. Like anyone else, she wants to be treated fairly and given equal opportunity and consideration.
“I don’t think I’ve been happy until… not that long ago,” she admitted.
Stacy has had a string of bad relationships. Some unhealthy. Some unbalanced. But she is now in a good place with an equal and caring partner.
The older I’ve grown, something I’ve come to learn is that people rarely change. Folks often think they can change the person they’re with into someone they can love. I’ve been through it. Stacy has been through it. Most of us have. True happiness comes when you find people, be they friends, partners, or otherwise, who you like just the way they are.
Stacy’s hair was looking a little choppy. She ran her fingers through it and joked about how she’s in an awkward in-between phase of haircuts. “It’s like the puberty of hair,” she laughed.
Stacy wants to eventually start an IT business of her own. She says it doesn’t make sense to work for someone else when you can work for yourself. She told me of a time when there was an IT issue at GameStop that required a contractor to come in and make repairs. He showed up in dirty sweats — not a care in the world. She was enamored. She didn’t judge. Rather, she wondered how that could be her job! Wear what you want. Work when you want. I want to do that, she thought.
Stacy grew up in St Louis, but a previous relationship brought her to OKC. She fell in love with the City, but mostly with the friends she made here. “I never thought I’d live in Oklahoma,” she said. But now she has no plans to leave any time soon.
I’ve been thankful to have known her. She’s done a lot of graphic design work for me since I gave her a Photoshop tutorial what seems like forever ago. She took to it like second-nature. She thinks like a graphic designer, which is remarkably rare in the field. It’s a talent she shouldn’t neglect, even if she moves into an IT career.
Stacy offered her two dream jobs: to name crayon colors or to design simple things for everyday life.
“Those wavy lines on bathroom hand dryers,” she said with bright eyes, “I want to design those.”
Stacy used to be a hard read. She was guarded. Quirky, but guarded.
I never knew she was unhappy before. But I can tell she’s happy now. And she isn’t shy about it.
She’s a reminder that sometimes we have to get uncomfortable to find real comfort. Some changes are difficult to make, but often true joy is right on the other side.