17 years

Grafton, NY. January 2006.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about chunks of time. “How long do I have to live?” and “Where was I that many years ago?” and “At this stage of my life, a half century after graduating from high school, what did I think?” …and crap like that. The chunk that keeps coming up, though, is this one: 17 years ago we prepared to leave the snowy realms of upstate New York and head to North Carolina. A truly shit job and what should have been a wonderful company (and was for many others) had ended unceremoniously with a layoff. Less than three months later we were headed to what became the best dozen years or so of my working life, and ended with a pandemic and my retirement. Above, we’re about five minutes from leaving our home and never seeing it again. (I had to use the snow blower on the driveway that morning.)

a wall (AWOL?)

Cedarock State Park, NC. June 2017.

Five years ago my wife was stressed. I had just stepped off of yet another cliff of human existence, symbolizing yet again my affinity for The Fool in the tarot deck (at least the one interpreted by zen versions of the deck). Despite well-paying gainful employment with a consulting agency for over two years, I had aligned myself with a different agency. For four months I had managed to work about 60 hours (maybe) plus I had had a short-lived assignment with an “off the books” agency. We had just purchased a new home, taking on almost a quarter million dollars in debt. (sounds like a lot when it’s stated that way, doesn’t it?) On June 22nd, realizing my wife needed something to take her mind off of things, I planned to drive us over to Cedarock State Park an hour or so west of where we live. Just before we left, I received a call from the new agency to take a two-month contract. A week later that contract was “interrupted” by an open-ended contract which ultimately lasted nine months, leading into 2018, the year I earned more money than I ever thought I would earn in my life. I like to think that the spirit of our forebears, who didn’t limit themselves with “can’t” and instead explored their limitless possibilities, are exemplified in the construction techniques of this wall. It should not be able to withstand our weather here, but it does–just like we “shouldn’t” leave unsatisfying, limiting situations, but if we do…

Step off the Cliff of Can’t.