A cornfield that fills the frame to the horizon, about waist high to a young woman facing away from the camera about 10' distant

Rounding the bend

Published 2011-07-13

The last three weeks have provided a lot of drama for my inner life. In no order:

  1. At work we are launching yet. Another. Redesign. There was ethnographic user testing. I’m not the sole front end coder any more. Can’t escape the feeling that web design as I’ve done it for a decade is fast becoming the next Desktop Publishing — and what am I doing to future-proof myself? Nada.
  2. Jenny and I are selling our house. Three feelings predominate: 1. regret at the financial decisions that got us here, 2. shame at my failure as sole provider/financial strategist for the family unit, 3. resentment at Jenny (hell, women in the abstract) for having choices (“I want to stay home with the kids”) where (sexist that I am) I feel I don’t get.

    Minor themes: gonna miss this house; gonna miss the neighborhood more; I did a lot of minor maintenance that I put off for way too long; why did we spend so much time making it so nice when we clearly didn’t want it; I really do want to live with no possessions in a studio apartment yes all four of us and the dog; why did I ever think this was a good idea? I’m a born renter.
  3. We spent a week in Nebraska. My first visit in seven years. Seven years is long enough that it is no longer familiar on a logical level (“wait, did this street always run one-way? And who put all these strip malls out here in the farmland?”) A profound sense of dislocation: I kept saying and thinking “back home in Oregon,” but my lizard brain still misses humidity, the drone of locusts, the smell of pin oaks, and my high school and college buddies. Lincoln would be a great place to raise a family (For sixteen years I’ve said of Nebraska: “it’s a great place to be from.”) Such nice swimming pools, museums, schools. Hell, nice Interstate rest stops. Perhaps they care so much about their built environment because God gave them so little of the natural one.

    My roots have left Nebraska. Of my extended family (to the second generation) I have one cousin left there. Twenty years ago most of us were Nebraskans, not ex-Nebraskans. Weird and welcoming to share this place with Orion, who fairly worships tractors.

    And then: my uncle Jimmy, whose memorial drew us there. I missed his presence but it was unescapable. I last saw him eight years ago, I never knew the person he became as his body failed him.

I set aside an afternoon this past weekend to try to wrangle these thoughts, write them down, own them (purge them?) It was epically depressing. I just sat at my computer and felt useless and old. When I approached thirty years of age I had a Crisis of Self and it was Not Happy. And the stakes then were really low: no house, no debt, no kids, a wife with a different surname, a new career to which I was largely indifferent. It was stupid then but with the power of Youth it made me better. I’m gonna spare myself a repeat as I near forty (less than two months away). But really: useless and old. Race half run. Not yet a millionaire.

And when did I start wishing I were a millionaire?