23 September 2018

Disappeared (Part 7)

Change is inevitable. The world holds still for no one. Reveries amongst the ruins were a great illuminator of that premise. Every visit revealed a new truth, a fresh perspective, a reshuffling of the rubble. From fires to flowers to walls no longer whole, time made clear it would have its due in the reclamation of that which was no longer maintained. Inevitability made for a plethora of photo opportunities, of which I took full advantage. There was comfort in routine with variety to keep things interesting.

But there is change. Always change. There came a day where the first new thing I saw was a set of signs erected adjacent to the site. Official looking and emblazoned with seals and logos from a variety of state and federal agencies. It appeared that the site had long been considered a “brownfield” and was designated to be cleaned up. How it was to be cleaned up was not made clear, making the signs an appropriate guide for the gnarled mess of my life.

Outside in the real world things were going to Hell on a bobsled. While I played Indiana Jones on the Patapsco, the mortgage crisis and big bank failures were metastasizing into a recession eating up the country. When the money dries up, people decide not to build buildings. As a consequence of not needing buildings, people don’t need architects to design things. As a consequence of that unfortunate circumstance, architects such as myself find themselves surplus to requirements. We are shown many doors, some of which do not hit us on the ass on the way out.

Two weeks before Christmas Day in 2008 was the beginning of my personal Great Recession. I was laid off. More precisely, management asked if I would voluntarily resign first. I knew full well that part of the reason they asked was so they could avoid an increase in the amount they would have to contribute to unemployment insurance. I am many things, but stupid is not one of them. No way was I going to agree to quit when the issue was strictly payroll driven and not performance. I told them I would not voluntarily quit, so they “let me go”. Off into the wilderness I went.

In the employment maelstrom of the next three years, that particular bit of black theater would be repeated twice more. I had months long blips of pure joblessness interrupted by slightly longer blips of jobs I was thankful to get, at places I thought would be long term. But the last ones on the ship are the first ones to go when the seas get violent. Good intentions, experience, and hard work don’t stand a chance against those in thrall to a balance sheet. The third time was not particularly charming. I was caught out when it hit in the fall of 2011 not long before Halloween.

There I was yet again sailing the heavy chop on the sea of unemployment. The currents were carrying me deeper into winter, with the prospect of a sparse Christmas to boot. Seeking a job can be a full time job in and of itself, and this episode was no different. My desk turned into a resume farm. Field trips began to taper off due to weather, time, and exhaustion. The ruins began to fade into the background while I concentrated on mastering the change taking over my life. Winter crept in to hold me hostage to cold and gloom.

Funny thing about change. It isn’t all chaos and stress. The light that kept me on the path was the burgeoning of a long-distance relationship courtesy of the miracle of the Internet. The epicenter of this heartquake was in the center of the country. Its shock waves upended the enforced complacency of my solitary life. The gravity of love began its mysterious action at a distance which, in conjunction with my increasingly dim job prospects at home, swiftly grew into an irresistible pull on my heart and mind. Following the exhortations of my soul, I hopped into the driver’s seat of my hot rod of change and put the pedal to the metal.

I decided to move to Kansas in pursuit of love and money.

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"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...