Friday, July 9, 2010

Six Months in Hell

Give me a song to sing
Harder than it is to bring
Back all the years I've wasted
For so long

--Lost Immigrants, "Song to Sing"

I want to start this out with something pithy, something timeless, some bit of wisdom that will resonate throughout the paragraphs I splatter out here and beyond.  But I find I’m not up to the task.  All I can really offer is a single summation of the lessons I’ve learned over my six months in Dallas.

Looking forward to what the future holds is infinitely preferable to mourning what the past once contained.

For some things this is pretty obvious.  My larger paycheck is obviously preferable to the one I had in Chicago, not to mention taking unemployment and hoping for a nibble on my resume.  My 2010 Mazda 6 is obviously preferable to my 2004 Chevy Cavalier.

For some things it’s more of a wash.  St. Arnold and Rahr & Sons admirably stepped up to fill the gap once occupied by Two Brothers and Metropolitan in this beer snob’s beer list.

For some things, well, for some things it’s harder.  By any objective measure Chicago is a much more interesting place to be than Dallas.  But I can’t afford to be objective about this.  I’m not in Chicago, after all.  I’m in Dallas.

And given a choice between wishing to be back in Chicago or trying to find a life in Dallas, well, one of those things will only result in depression.

Ultimately, too, I’ve realized that the place doesn’t matter nearly as much as the people who occupy it and the stories that I can tell.  On that entirely subjective scale the first six months in Dallas have the last year and a half in Chicago beat by a disturbingly wide margin.

I’m gonna drive on down this highway
‘Til the pain in me is gone
I can’t look back
No I gotta keep moving along

--Lost Immigrants, “Rollin’ On”

I was on I-35W last night thinking about how tired I was of rain and listening to the Lost Immigrants.  All of the sudden I started smiling.

I was thinking about pigeons.  Specifically my first-ever yearly goals review meeting thing at my new company when my new boss and I spent a good thirty seconds doing pigeon imitations.  I think you kind of had to be there.

When we were in the last weeks of the transition of my job to Dallas from Chicago some of the people from down here went up there for a strategy meeting.  They were very, very serious.  At that point I was 99% sure I was coming down here and 103% pissed about the fact that it had to happen.  During that meeting I met my new boss for the first time, but I wasn’t sure if I could say anything because I hadn’t officially accepted the offer.  Hell, I hadn’t even officially gotten an offer yet.  I’d just had some HR people acting like they were doing me a favor by letting me move to Dallas from Chicago.

We spent the entire day in one of those meetings.  I’m sure anyone who’s been in corporate America knows what I’m talking about.  Two sides convinced the other side doesn’t have a clue what the other is doing, but trying to convince them that they’re not a bunch of idiots.  We were using my laptop for presentation purposes.  At the end my desktop picture popped up.  It was a picture of my desk.  New boss laughed.  It was the first time I realized, “Yeah, I can work with her.”

A week or so later I had two different meetings, one with my boss, one with my interim boss/kinda-sorta now my boss’s boss, at least for my remaining time in Chicago.  My boss hemmed and hawed his way around trying to tell me to be careful when I got there, tried to remind me that I was representing everyone in Chicago.  Interim boss cut to the chase.  “Just don’t be you for a while,” he said.

Everyone was sure that the Dallas people were uptight.

A couple months later I was sitting in new boss’s office and we were talking in pigeon.

Honestly, I can say that these first six months would have been terrible were it not for my new coworkers.  I think I wanted to hate Dallas.  I think I wanted to be able to reach January 1st, 2011 and say, “Fuck this noise, I’m out of here,” and go back to Chicago.  But for the last six months I’ve been mostly – surprisingly -- gruntled at work.

And I cannot say enough how much I appreciate that.

But that doesn’t even begin to approach the fullness of the reasons that I’ve been able to make this transition.  Work is, after all, the reason I’m here but not the totality of my existence.

It was with tongue firmly in cheek that I called the first meeting of the Accidental Historian Appreciation Society, Dallas Area Chapter.

I remember walking in to the Londoner in Addison on an otherwise random Saturday morning and discovered that someone (I’m pretty damn sure it was Michael Mock, though) had made signs.  Those signs are still sitting on my coffee table.  Chances are they’d be framed if I were organized enough to do so.

A few weeks (um, months?) later I learned that I’m a horrible administrator.  Seneca was in town.  They were doing a show at the Dallas Trinity Hall location and I called the second meeting of the A.H.A.S.D.A.C. for that night.  I think I gave three different times.  I then proceeded to arrive later than Michael Mock, Fake Al Gore, and Big A.

But it was a good night, anyway.

Even that doesn’t quite say enough.

I met some great people during Rogapalooza.  Y’all know who you are.

Honestly, I think Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, TX will end up being one of my favorite places in the world even if I never go back there again.

That night was a culmination of a great week.  Nine days, really.

You know who you are.  Michael, Raquel, Lauren, Robert, Zack, Andrew, Andrew’s brother (with whom I am not Facebook friends, and whose name I do not remember, but, seriously, you’re good people), the Girl in Red, and, of course, Tawni and the Peacemakers theirownselves.

Fuzzy’s Tacos in Fort Worth.  The only building in Texas that lacks air conditioning.  A few too many Shiner Bocks.  Those crazy and annoying drunk people at Antone’s.  What else can I say?

I’m happy I met you.  How’s that?  Also, if you’re not at my Six Months in Hell party I’ll hold an extremely not interesting grudge, since I suck at holding grudges.

And last, but certainly not least, Big A.

What can I say?  I mean, seriously?

When you left Chicago She was still in my life.  And She couldn’t, at first, understand why I was so unemotional about the whole thing.  But then She said, “He’s gone, but he’s not out of your life.”

I don’t think anyone was expecting that the reason for that was an eventual move to Dallas.  I sure as hell wasn’t.

It’s been a crazy fucking ride, dudeman.  Tater.  Trinity Hall.  BWW in Allen.  Seth.  Mike Doughty.  Realizing that life hasn’t actually changed since WIU.

What.  The.  Fuck?  Seriously.

I’m not the kind
To make up my mind
To lose sanity, lose my head
For some girl in red

I smell the smoke
Still hear the band
I taste the beer
That was in my hand

That night we met runs through my head
I can’t forget the girl in red

--Eli Young Band, “Girl in Red”

When it gets right down to it I moved to Dallas with a broken heart.  But I moved to Dallas with a broken heart because I was in love with the idea of having a broken heart.  The girl who broke my heart wasn’t worth it, but I had to leave Chicago to realize that.

I left my broken heart in Chicago.
I left my anger in Oklahoma City.
I left my fear in Fort Worth.
I left my liver in Austin.
I left my inhibitions in New Braunfels.

Tonight I sit on my balcony in Irving.  I'm accompanied by a bottle of Woodford Reserve bourbon and a six-pack of St. Arnold Lawnmower.

It’s been exactly six months since I crossed the border from Oklahoma in to Texas.

And it’s been six good months.  Six necessary months.

I’m having a party at the Tap-In Bar & Grill in Grapevine, TX.  The Lost Immigrants will be providing the entertainment.  Hopefully the people who have come to matter most to me over the last six months will be there.  I’m calling it the Six Months in Hell Party.

But, if I’m honest, this hasn’t been hell.  Hell implies imprisonment.

Since I’ve moved to Texas I’ve actually been freed.

And, when it gets right down to it, that's all that matters.


Fake Al Gore said...

I am so very sorry that I won't be able to make the party. I will be in Colorado on the 30th.

I'll take you out for a beer when I get back, eh?

Geds said...

I guess that's okay. But, really, it's only completely okay if you're planning on seeing the Roger Clyne solo acoustic show at Herman's Hideaway on the 31st.

Yeah. I just happen to know these things.