At this time last year, almost exactly this time, in fact, I had an apartment, three cars (although one of them was in many parts), multitude of powerful computers, all sorts of expensive little toys and gadgets, full-time job, and a long-term girlfriend. Well, sorta. That was always complicated.
And now I've got roughly two duffel bags worth of clothes, a laptop, and . . . that's about it.
Some people will never be able to understand why I did what I did. They're the same people who asked "Why the heck would you want to go to Antarctica?!?! Isn't it cold and horrible!?" (to which I'd reply "Well, yeah.") The people who have to ask that question, they could never understand the answer.
But I had my own reasons for it. And it all started one day when I took a shower.
I've always been a skinny guy, my whole life. Anyone who knew my in high school remembers how rail-thin I always was, at one point I was six feet tall and 112lbs. Of course, being a guy, I don't keep a scale or really have any idea of how much I weigh day-to-day or even year-to-year. But one day, when I was taking a shower, I looked down, and I realized I couldn't see part of my feet.
I was getting fat. I was getting the little skinny-guy pot belly. My girlfriend confirmed this.
To me, someone who's been a scrawny guy since always, this was just . . . this was shocking to me. And in that instant, I realized that everything I was doing was wrong. Sure, I hated the idea that I was getting fat, but more then anything, the getting fat was a symptom of all the wrong choices that I was making. This wasn't the life I wanted. The life I was living wasn't making me happy. At least, it wasn't fulfilling. Everything I had, everything I was doing, the way I was living, it wasn't what was important.
Well, that and I'm shallow and vein, so being fat sucked.
But scarier then that is that in that instant, I could also see where it was going. And I could understand exactly how, and why, people get stuck in dull little suburban lives, how people never leave the town or city that they grow up in, and not notice it until it's far too late, they're too deeply entrenched to get away, and they have a mid-life crisis and buy a sports car or something.
It's not a decision that they actually made. It's the lack of making decisions that left them there.
And it was where I was headed.
The next day, I started working out again, and paying a little bit of attention to how much and what I was eating. But also, that night, I logged onto Raytheon's website and started applying for jobs on the ice. The rest is . . . well, you know.
Do I miss what I had?
Well, I miss the girlfriend a good bit. And often, I miss the convenience of a highly tweaked home network with a bunch of specialty systems, and a reliable, fast internet connection. But save for some bright spots, I don't miss that life. Sometimes it's temping to go back. Maybe I will someday, but . . . not now.
I suppose I was lucky. I was able to get out. I have a skill set that's easily marketable, I realize what was wrong before I'd put down roots, before I'd gotten too attached to anything.
But it was close. Another couple of years, and I don't know if I'd have been able to leave.