I've been reviewing some of my old nodes over the past few months. Several of them have been waiting for updates and conclusions, including Go West Young Woman, of which this is part.
Everything in italics is a recent addition beginning in April 2014, three years after my cross-country trip west from Virginia.
This is where it begins.
After spending three years on night shift in the armpit of the Northern Virginia suburbs building what would be later called part of the Cloud, I applied for and received a transfer to the Oregon desert. Here I would spend two months living in a series of carpet-walled hotel rooms in a town where the largest business was the truck stop and the next-largest was the prison.
Prior to that, however, it was time to start coming off the addiction to Penguin Mints. It was time to pack the networking laboratory into the dumpster, and to pack my belongings into a four foot by eight foot storage locker in Alexandria, Virginia.
I've been in suspended animation, and it's suddenly over. Everything was dulled, blunted at night. Colors were faded, the light was weak, and people were tired, quiet, far away. I myself was weak, tired, and far away. Now, having had two nights where I've slept, I've woken up.
You take so much for granted, really. I took so much for granted. Having been denied daylight for so long, I find myself appreciating things like afternoon sunlight against buildings, how beautiful trees are in the spring, how coffee tastes, how restaurants look filled with people. Guys, there are flowers starting to bloom out of formerly cold dirt, and the sky is incredibly blue and pretty with clouds in it. It's been raining, too, and the ground is muddy and wet and glorious.
It's a wonderful world, it really is.
My bedroom is scraped bare back to generic white walls, the nondescript beige carpet has been vacuumed and washed. My belongings are packed into individual containers with labels and barcodes and rubbermaid lids. This morning, I've had a latte, one of many cups of coffee over the last several months, and it tasted like the first, and the best, cup I've ever had.
In five days I drive west, and my life begins again.
In a lot of ways, I went searching for and rediscovered what it was to hope. This was the first life change I chose to make without taking it for purely financial or survival reasons. While leaving Minnesota in the winter of 2006 was a decision I made rather than live out the rest of my life in bad data entry jobs, this would be a choice not for financial reasons, but for the sake of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing.
This meant actually figuring out who I am and what I'm doing. That took a while longer. Somewhere in the middle was Chris. Somewhere out there in the middle was Brazil, and Oakland and Seattle and a year where I spent a major percentage of my time on planes.
Life is pretty incredible. Wish you were here. I'd buy you some tea or coffee and show you where the crocuses are opening or the trees are budding.
I see waves breaking forms on my horizon...
As it turns out, I did get to buy a lot of you tea and coffee. I got to meet and experience a whole pile of wonderful people. I lived in three states and two countries. I'm in my third residence in a year of living. Save for a current stabilization in Portland, I have been a blur of activity.
It never did slow down or get less incredible. I came out of Northern Virginia and never went back. I don't believe I ever will.