Eight Years Ago

I just got the little trophy from WordPress that congratulated me for having been a Word Presser (?) for eight years.  Eight years.  I signed up in May 2008.  Man, a lot has changed in eight years.

I had a MySpace account.  But the decency to be embarrassed about it.  MySpace was still a place to go play games, but it was definitely on the downward spiral.  32,000 sexual offenders were known to have MySpace accounts at that time.  No, I wasn’t one of them.

We lived in Michigan.  We owned a house.  That part was nice.  I liked that house.  It wasn’t anything special, but we fixed up the yard, painted, installed new fixtures, put in a garden, that kind of thing.  We lived in a tiny town in vacation-land, and were part of the community.  My wife was a Girl Scout leader, I helped build the playground at the school.  Our neighbors were our friends.  My wife could have coffee with or leave our kids with multiple people on our street.  We had a HOME.

Now we rent a house that really isn’t “us” in a neighborhood – fuck it, a SUBURB that we hate, and where nobody talks to us.  Seriously.  We moved into this house almost two years ago, and one of our next-door neighbors has talked to me exactly twice, and once was when I brought over a piece of mis-delivered mail.  The douche-nozzle across the street has talked to us exactly once – even when passing on the sidewalk, he says nothing.  We put out pumpkins for the first Halloween there, and they were stolen.  Our house is absolutely not a home….it just feels like “where we’re staying.”

We got a hard frost on May 28, in Michigan.  Now it’s summer…every day.  It’s Florida.

I was still working at a job I hated, at a place that I hated, for managers that I hated.  I was still nine months away from being accepted to my MBA program…in fact, I hadn’t even applied yet, or anything.  I really had no hope at that point of anything actually getting better in my career.  It was a dead-end job at the only IT employer in the area, so they could do anything they wanted to their people because they knew that quitting meant moving your family away.  I didn’t get a real promotion in the ten years I worked there….not one…ever.

I don’t have the super-awesome management job that I thought I’d have when I earned my MBA…but I do earn twice what I made at my Michigan job, in a field that I like, with some future prospects.  My time at my current employer hasn’t been all good – some of it has really sucked donkey balls – but my career is in a better place now than it was when I moved here.

Only one month prior, I’d been hospitalized on vacation for carbon monoxide poisoning from our rental van.  Worst vacation ever.  We were all sick on that trip, and we still have some lingering effects.  I occasionally lose words for things, and I know I’m more susceptible to motion sickness and random fumes.

My 9-year-old twins were 18 months old.  My 13-year-old daughter was five-and-a-half.  My 16-year-old son was eight.  I have many more pictures of my kids smiling, laughing and having fun THEN than NOW.  I know some of it is because teens don’t smile or laugh…it’s against the law or something.  Still, I look at the photos from then, and we’re outside, DOING things.  Fall festivals, vacations, hikes in the woods, playing in the back yard…they are pictures of my kids having FUN.  My pictures after moving to Florida start out with the kids, and us doing things outside…and gradually transition to pictures of THINGS, like bikes I was building, or buildings, flowers, birds, whatever.  The pictures of family have dwindled, and the ones I have…mostly the kids have pasted-on pose-smiles.

All in all, I can’t really say that we’re in better shape now than eight years ago.  A couple of things are better, but I think more aspects of our life have gone downhill.  I definitely think we’re less happy than we were in May 2008.  If I could talk to May-2008-me, I would.  And I think we’d have done the last eight years differently.



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