Friday, February 4, 2011

Letter to M: The Dark Time

Letter to M: The Dark Time

My plans to move to NYC forestalled, I moved back in with my parents. I lived with them while my mother completed treatment for the recurring cancer, and I got menial temp work so the main focus stayed at home. Then one of my menial jobs offered me a promotion – a whole $24,000 a year. The catch was I had to move to Raleigh, NC, and that meant separation from my mother. I reluctantly took this job and moved. But not before I had a really not so nice boyfriend who taught me many lessons about lying and how unseriously people take that particular sin. I still want to egg his car.

On $24,000 a year, I could afford a two bedroom apartment overlooking a lake, a car, a cat and as many “Carolina Blue” cups as they would sell me at “He’s not Here” – a bar in Chapel Hill where I did most of my socializing. As luck would have it, a few of my sorority sisters had gone to graduate school there, so I had a social life waiting for me when I arrived.

Career: If my career has one unifying principle, it is “if you are unhappy, quit.” I quit about one job a year for a while there – all while I was doing b-c lending. I am sure you know what this is. It has its moments, but it is generally depressing work, and I did it for both retail and business customers for many years. Work out loans. More work out loans with absurd balloon payments secured by tracts of swamp land and abandoned yacht slips – the yachts already being gutted and disposed of. Depressing restructuring jobs that included sucking all the equity out of real estate holdings for people in their 50s. Good times. The problem with the work was more that I was bored than anything. And with years of underwriting experience and a loan authority of 2,000,000 and NO education in the field, you have to set your sights low. I got into the business by accident. I got out on purpose – but that comes later.

Family: We knew in early October 2005 that my mother was dying, so we all came home. For a few weeks we took shifts. I wish I could say we handled it with more grace, but we drank scotch and cried. The night before she died was my shift. I sat up with her, trying to think for ten hours what to say. In the end I said nothing, and when my brother came in the morning to take his shift, I thought to myself, “if she goes after this, I am ok with it.” She died two hours later. She was 52; I was 25.

They tell you not to make any major decisions for a year after a major life event – death, birth, divorce, relocation – so I didn’t. I worked the depressing job and I waited. But not for long.

Social: I had two really, really nice boyfriends. One was (literally) a rocket scientist. We broke up because I didn’t want to move to Houston and he wanted to get married – and that was just way too much maturity for me. The other was an engineer and we broke up because of something silly – I can’t remember what. But they were both excellent and I had all my Chapel Hill friends.

Sports: I ran and ran and ran and ran. There were farms around my parents’ house and I ran past so many cows. Those cows all looked at me as if they had no idea what I was running from. I never thought of running in actual races but I ran all the damn time.

Consider yourself up to date through 1995.

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