In August 2013 I moved to Seattle to take a new job. I was leaving the city I love, leaving my friends and my life and diving blind into the great unknown. I’ve done this before, several times, but it gets harder as you get older, especially when it feels like you’re running from things instead of toward them. Still, I was optimistic and looking forward to the new opportunity.
Three months later – on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, to be precise – the designated sociopath from the home office in Charlottesville walked into the building, closed the office and fired everyone. Just in time for the holidays I was on the beach in a city where I had very little network and absolutely no prospects. Worse, it was a city known for being polite, but not remotely welcoming. Trust me when I tell you that the “Seattle Freeze” is very, very real.
I spent a few months job hunting and working projects, and finally got hired back by the company – only I was going to have to move to its Bend, OR office. Then, just as I re-started the gig, we were acquired by a larger agency. I hit the new boss’s Web site and – guess what? – they had an office in downtown Denver. And they made it clear that they don’t care where you live. If you want to move to a new office, go for it.
By the time I arrived in Bend the wheels were already in motion, but I still wound up living there for five months. They say it’s darkest before the dawn, and those were among the darkest months of my life. Five months – doesn’t seem like very long, but it felt like years. Bend is a small city and not an especially easy one in which to make friends. There isn’t a “Bend Freeze” that I know of, but for me the town was more alienating even than Seattle had been.
Then I lost Ronan, which was the darkest day of a very dark period.
I hate moving, but never in my life have I embraced the task of packing quite so enthusiastically. Finally, on Monday, November 24, I pulled out of Bend and headed home.
The following afternoon – the Tuesday before Thanksgiving – I rolled south on 287 out of Laramie, Wyoming, and around 3pm I crested the hill and hit the Colorado line about three miles north of Virginia Dale. I was home.
I tell people that I don’t think I have stopped smiling since. This isn’t literally true, of course, but the last year has been, without question, the happiest of my life. The first 15 years of the century saw me lose myself, little by little, day by day, but utterly, until I became something I barely recognized in the mirror. Finally, though, I have recovered myself and reconnected with the energetic guy I used to be so many years ago. I’m actually fun to be around these days.
That new opportunity I left Denver for was taken away two days before Thanksgiving in 2013. I returned home two days before Thanksgiving in 2014. And today, two days before Thanksgiving in 2015, I mark another of the circles that seem to define my life.
When you look at the nuts and bolts there is technically much about my life that I could be unhappy with. But despite the details, I can’t stop smiling. Once upon a time it was exactly the opposite.
I don’t know that I have a profound, pithy little bow with which to tie this story up. I just wanted to note a moment of symmetry, and with Thanksgiving upon us to express my gratitude for what I have, and especially for my friends, who have been with me the whole way.