Friday, May 7, 2010

A Song of Freedom

Thanks to those good-looking Caesar boys - Julie and Augie - our year is divided into twelve months as opposed to its original ten. While that causes a bit of confusion on the back end of the annum, with VII-ber having become IX-ber and X-ber being converted into XII-ber (being men blessed with egos as vast as the great outdoors they dropped their tributes in the middle of what is the time of the year when hot air is most prevalent - at least in this hemisphere), their calendarus interruptus left the first half of the year alone.

While a calendar year has a fixed beginning in January and a fixed finish line in December, one can really configure any twelve-month period one chooses and hang a "year' moniker on it. Consider us bipeds. We do not turn a year older automatically every January 1. Our birthday represents the point of demarcation for the year to come. And if you are really cool, then that stating point annually for you is in early February.

Point is that since "the year" is a fairly malleable unit of measure, we can whip out a "Happy Anniversary" for any number of occasions on any number of different dates. And I choose to do so today.

A year ago on 28 January I walked away from a place of employment that I had called home since 5 January 1998. 11+ years is a long time to remain in one relationship, which I remember hearing for the first time from my wife when we were out years ago celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary. But I digress.....

After 11+ years at the Firm I left. While the reasons I had in my head for doing what I did were crystal clear when I made the decision, they seem far less so now. And truth be told, during the month-plus that passed between the date when the decision was made and the date when I pulled out of the parking lot for what I believed was the final time, they seemed far less so. But by that point, the die had been cast. What was to be was to be. And what was to be was that I was to be someplace else.

Almost immediately upon moving further on up the road - both literally and figuratively as I moved due north on Parsippany Road - I regretted the decision. There are a number of things that made me painfully aware that I had erred. I shall not go into them here. If you are that intrigued by them, then I would invite you at your leisure to peruse the archival portion of this little endeavor, paying particular attention to the months of March, April and May 2009. Suffice it to say that by the time I had reached the end of the first full week of May last year, I was ready to kill myself or everyone else. Expediency screamed "Look inward!" but vanity compelled me to look outwardly first.

It was on this very day last year - the Friday at the end of May's first full week that something extraordinary happened. An opportunity that presents itself infrequently - if at all - in the day-to-day or our lives presented itself to me: an opportunity at a do-over. For reasons that remain unclear to me (and candidly of little moment to me as well) the gent who the Firm hired to replace me walked into the office of my partner Howard on this very day - one year ago - and announced that he was leaving the Firm. His departure created a vacuum and nature - much like a dust ball abhors a vacuum. The place that I had called home for more than a decade needed to fill it. And I needed to be the one who was offered the chance to fill it. Having not realized how much I loved where I was and what I was doing until I was somewhere else doing something else, I think I needed it more than the Firm needed me.

And it happened. On this very day a year ago, I found my way back to what has long been for me (even years before I realized it apparently) the perfect space. Howard and I - in a caper directly from the pages of Mad Magazine's Spy v. Spy cartoon - ended up chasing each other around Parsippany for quite a while that Friday afternoon trying to find a fairly discrete place in which to sit and chat face-to-face for a few minutes. It took a bit of doing but we did it. And when I returned to my then-employer that afternoon to tell them that I was preparing to do something for the second time in four months something I had not done in the previous 132 months, which was change jobs, I felt as if a tremendous weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. A weight that my own decision-making had thrust upon my shoulders to be sure but one that I could not weight to have lifted off of me. I called Margaret to tell her what had transpired. I think she cried. Tears that were one part joy and one part relief, having wrestled with whether to commit me or kill me on more than one occasion during the months that preceded it.

I, like Shane Falco, know a thing or two about quicksand. And I too know a thing or two about redemption. For me, the journey on the road to it began one year ago. Still have miles to go, but I have a good pace and a clear focus. I shall be just fine.

-AK

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