Monday, November 29, 2010

Circle (Part One)

All my life's a circle;
Sunrise and sundown;
Moon rolls thru the nighttime;
Till the daybreak comes around.

All my life's a circle;
But I can't tell you why;
Seasons spinning round again;
The years keep rollin' by...
"Circle," by Harry Chapin

Today was a pretty crummy day at work. The kind of day in which all the victories I've managed to amass in the past six months now feel completely hollow, useless, and not worth the effort. Time will tell whether that feeling sticks around (past history tells me it won't) but suffice to say I felt a dark cloud surrounding me as I walked out the door tonight.

However, the cloud did manage to lift as I left the miles behind me. Part of that was thanks to listening to some old podcasts of mine -- reliving past glories, I guess, from back when I was at least somewhat relevant to aviation journalism -- but most of the doom and gloom waned as I reflected on the series of events that have brought me to this point in time.

It's kind of a neat story, really, and telling it always makes me appreciate life. And, as is often the case, it all started with a girl. And a breakup.


July 2001. I'm living in my rented guest house on El Pueblo. I'm 25, unemployed, living off savings (along with more than a few parental handouts) and feeling generally sorry for myself. I've also just broken-up with a girl... for the second time. After reentering my orbit for a few fleeting moments earlier that summer, she'd found me very much the same insecure, awkward and needy mess I'd been before. I'm self-aware enough to know that... and to realize I'm depressed, directionless, and in desperate need of a shower.

Others see that, too. "Get out of the house," my friends say. "Go find something to do... preferably something that also pays at least a little money!" my folks add. "OK, seriously, are you ever going to leave your house again?" my landlady asks, with more than a little worry in her voice.

Finally, those messages ring through. My friend Lee recommends a job he only recently left, as a courier for a company called DMC. "It's great if you like to drive... which you do... and like to talk to people... which you used to," he says.

With a copy of my driving record in-hand, I fill out an application... and am immediately interviewed by the manager, Carlos. I'm sure that interview consisted of more than, "have you ever been convicted of any felonies and can you drive a 5-speed?" but that's the part of it I remember. A few days later -- July 25 -- I'm riding along in a van filled with bank bags and medical totes, heading up to Los Alamos and Espanola in the wee hours of the morning. By the following Monday, Route 112 is mine.

Me & 333, outside the Radisson Santa Fe. February 2002
The next eight months are rather fulfilling, and seldom dull. The long drive from Albuquerque suits me well; I average right around 250 miles round-trip, five-days-a-week. Some days take me as far North as Angel Fire. Most days I'm in a brand-new Toyota Tacoma (shown above) that I soon adopt as my own. I'm more proud of that truck than I am of my POS LeBaron convertible, and keep it spotless -- even waxing it during my hour of down-time in Espanola. Playing old cassettes in the tape deck helps me work on my singing voice... and work through some personal issues as well.

I also rediscover how much I enjoy talking to people, and find the challenge of keeping on a tight schedule to be invigorating (particularly in winter, while maneuvering a lightly-loaded Econoline up the hill to Los Alamos.)

Driving that route was just what I needed at that time in my life. By April 2002, however, I felt that time had mostly passed. So, I went after a promotion, to morning warehouse supervisor. I got the job...

...And soon realized that was a big, big mistake. But that's a story for tomorrow.

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