It’s the nagging feeling I get in the back of my mind when I leave things unfinished that propelled me. I spent the last few weeks trying to come up with a summary of everything that has happened between then and now. Haven’t had much luck in that regard, only thing that really comes to mind is nothing which is not a bad thing to be thinking about, it seems to me. All things in their right place.
I hadn’t actually applied for the job; in fact I hadn’t updated my resume online for nearly six months. They came looking for me, which was surprising in and of itself and I figured I’d give them a shot. Took them fucking forever to get back to me each time there was a break between HR questioning and phone interviews. Nearly a month later and I’m sitting in a conference room in “downtown” Racine with a three hour panel interview ahead of me. I quite wanted to smack the shit out of the idiot who kept asking questions only to bury his head into his BlackBerry when I gave my answer. “I’m really going to report directly to this guy,” I thought?
It wasn’t more than 3 days before some guy in PA was on the phone telling me that they not only wanted to exceed my salary requirements by 15K, but that they wanted me to start immediately. “Who just up and offers that much money (10K more than I was making in New York) without even trying to negotiate,” I said to my dad, “for a company so concerned with cost cutting you’d think they would be a bit sterner, wouldn’t you?” It was that other nagging feeling in the back of my head (the one I had finally stopped ignoring) that led me to look a bit deeper into the company making the offer.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it sure as hell is.”
“Trust me, I’ve learned that lesson.”
The network of people I know in the greater Milwaukee area far exceeds that of the past two cities I called “home,” so gathering a little intel on working conditions there was not difficult. 60+ hour weeks, most Saturdays, constant shouting and belittling, managers who sacrifice their team members to benefit themselves not to mention that 50 mile one way trip made it sound a lot like another shit hole I used to work in. That money though, damn, I have had a really tough time recovering from the purchases that bitch kept when I got the boot. I could really use that money.
I’m thinking about it one afternoon driving home, thinking about the summary (or lack there of) I had put together of life in the past nine months or so. An extreme amount of effort was put into keeping this new life of mine stress-free at work, with women and among friends. I had to admit every bit of that effort was paying off; I had been having more fun since September than I had in the entire time I was in New York. I was happy to go to work for once, ok with turning down someone and totally free of anger for the first time in so long. Did I really want to jeopardize that for money? I took the risk for a woman once (something seemingly much more valuable) and that turned out to not be worth it at all. In fact, all it did was cause pain and a permanently bitter spot on my heart.
I let them wonder on the first two days before the 4th and finally called them back on the 5th to tell them that I couldn’t take the job. “No, more money or vacation time wouldn’t change my mind; I was happy where I was.” That was the god honest truth, it might not be perfect here but I know what I’ve got and I enjoy it. I’m happy now, not perfectly content, but happy. Happiness cannot be bought or moved to, trust me I’ve tried.
I actually felt a nice ease about me after I made that decision. Some might lay awake thinking about the money that they left on the table but not me. I have spent more than enough time with the ol, “what if,” bullshit.
That choice and the way it was handled are a microcosm of the way I’ve been operating around big decisions these days. I have me and only me in mind when I deliberate these days. I don’t think about pleasing a girl or impressing her impossible family at my own expense anymore. I don’t think about doing anything to get out of a less than ideal situation anymore. I make the decisions that are going to benefit me and I don’t give fuck all about anyone else. Maybe that was they way I was going about it before but this time I know it flat out and I don’t have anyone to sell it to. Call it selfish if you wish, I call it self-preservation.
Besides, “the first and only love is self love,” or so the last fortune cookie I ate told me.
When I think about a lot of the nonsense on this blog I realize that a good part of it is me struggling to deal with the way that things in my life affected me. Always in a reactionary state I was, never thinking forward. I’ve laid numerous precedents to the contrary now, those days are gone.
I guess that brings me back to the summary I thought I should put together. Nothing, which is basically what had happened since late September last year. Nothing was all I could think of. No problems at work, no girl arguments, no blacking out, no drunken driving incidents, no crazy drug deals gone wrong, no fist fights, no complicated multiple relationships, no constant worrying about appeasing the unappeasable…no more broken hearts. Kinda seems to me at this point, that the past few years of my life have had some good times but they have been overshadowed by some of the worst things I’ve ever experienced.
Perhaps I should try again.
I’ve gotten a new job where I’m respected, albeit not paid a whole lot. I’ve gone on some awesome road trips with my friends and gotten closer to them than any time in the past 10 years. I’ve had some great casual sex where no one felt obligated when the clothes were back on. I’ve been promoted, twice. I’m moving into a kick ass house with a good friend. I won my fantasy football league. I’ve been disc golfing more than I have since I graduated high school. That’s just the stuff I could come up with in a minute or two, you see, things have been going great. For once I’m defining time passed on good things and not just because nothing bad has happened. It’s because I want to.
There is just one thing that serves as the only cloud left in the sky: Nicole. I would be a liar to say I don’t still think about her most days. I can’t quite help it when music plays such a strong role in calling up old memories. Did you think I was going to stop listening to the same songs we used to love together? I didn’t think so; you deal with the emotions a song brings up. It is what makes some songs mean so much more than others.
It doesn’t hurt like it used to anymore, that big black open wound in my chest that she left me with, but it does burn from time to time. I’ve gotten pretty good at disregarding the bad memories we had in favor of the good times as I’d like to remember her fondly. Some things ($) make it harder than others, but all in all she is one of the only good memories I have of someone I used to love. I don’t much care anymore if she doesn’t think about me, write me or use my name in reciting old stories for her friends. I’m too concerned with myself and I’ve no shame in saying I still tell stories about us, still think about our times and still wish I could at least say hi. No matter, though, I’ve got plenty of other things to think about and do. If that time comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.
There is probably a lot more to say, but not a whole lot I feel like writing down. Maybe this is finally the “riding off into the sunset,” ending I was looking for here, maybe not. Maybe we’ve got the whole connotation of what riding off into the sunset actually means. It is no guarantee of better days to come, simply a guarantee that more days will come and I’ll be here to face them.
I’ll put this to bed now; there are a few of you out there that I’ve truly enjoyed knowing over these past years and I hope the few of you know that. I can say I wouldn’t be where I am right now without you all and, for better or for worse; I wouldn’t change a goddamn thing. Yeah, I miss talking to a certain West Coast friend and I won’t lie and say I don’t miss the relationship Nic and I had before it all went wrong. Yeah, there was a lot of pain that came from this but there was much more growing.
And yeah, before you ask, it all still stings a bit…but I guess that’s how I know it was real.