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My First Stint In Philly Part I
I’ve been sitting outside the last few nights. The air here is getting a little crisp in the evenings, the mid to low fifties. It the perfect time to sit outside, enjoy a beer, and enjoy the sounds of the city around me. Some nights, a little streaming radio doesn’t hurt either.
Kids playing on the sidewalks and streets, shouting and laughing and just being kids. Septa making their rounds. My new neighbors hanging out in their backyard, hanging laundry and speaking Tagalog. As much as I hate the summer in this dirty old town, its times like this during the other three seasons that really remind me of why I love it so much here. It wasn’t always this way. This is the second time I’ve lived in this town. And the first time was a whole different story….
As the previous century drew to a close, so did my first marriage. My wife and I had always had problems, much like other couples. We were both the oldest child in our families and, as a result, we were both stubborn and pigheaded. We were always used to being in charge. We were always the one who got the last word and always the one who made the rules. It wasn’t exactly an easy relationship.
After a few years, I kind of eased off. It’s one thing to always be in charge and always be right and always win the battle. But, it wasn’t good for the relationship and it wasn’t good for us. So, unless I was adamant about something, I let her make the majority of the decisions. Looking back, that may not have been the best choice, but at the time, it seemed the most reasonable. She had decided, though, that the best thing for us would be to have a baby.
It wasn’t long after we bought the house. We’d picked up an old stone house for a song. It was by far, the largest thing either of us had ever lived in. Soon afterwards, her nesting instincts had kicked in and when she’d gotten done decorating the place, she dropped the bomb. The house was far too big for the two of us, she argued. Wouldn’t it be nicer to come home to the pitter patter of tiny feet ?, she asked. Besides, it was in her plan. She was 25, she wasn’t getting any younger and it was the right time.
I still wasn’t convinced that fatherhood was for me. I could barely take care of myself, much less anyone else. I couldn’t get up on time, I could barely cook. My shoes were consistently untied and my clothes were always rumpled. There was no way in hell that I could take care of a kid. But we came up with a plan anyway. I needed a new job, one that paid exponentially more money, so that we could save up and so that when we were dependent on my salary alone, we could afford the luxuries and house that we’d become accustomed to.
So I looked for a new job and found one with relative ease. Remember, this was the late 90’s and the tech sector was huge. There were untalented hacks making great money and, as much as it pains me to say it, I had skills. I’ll be humble about almost everything else that has to do with me, because, honestly, I’m not that great of a guy. But my “kung fu” has always been strong, so it didn’t take me long to find something that was paying in the neighborhood that I needed to pull this plan off. And that’s when everything went Pete Tong.
The gig was simple. Make Client X happy. Client X was a multinational that had had their technological heads in their asses for years and were in the process of paying the price. Full blown distributed environments contained to closets and shit cabling that ran nowhere. Distribution systems that didn’t talk to the rest of their network. An inventory system that was still, at its heart, a pen and paper system. Making them happy made me a very busy boy. Busy enough that I was traveling constantly, three weeks a month, at least. During my busiest year, I was away from home 320 days. Client X was ecstatic. My wife, on the other hand….
Life on the road wasn’t treating me too good. I tend to eat like shit when I’m by myself and I don’t sleep. I forget simple things like shaving and where I put that damn pen. It’s easier for me to become distracted when I live with just myself and focus on what’s in front of me, which in this case, was the work. And it became easier for my wife to come home to an empty house at night or go out for a night with the girls. I started drinking myself to sleep, often. And she was letting the dogs come into the bed with her at night so she’d have something to cuddle when she woke up from a bad dream at two in the morning.
So, one sunny afternoon, after being on a plane for fourteen hours, I arrived home to find that I’d been kicked out.
Where will thefinn go ? Will he see his beloved dogs again ? What actually happened while he was away ? Tune in tomorrow for the second facinating installment, wherein thefinn finds a place to rest his weary head and falls for a girl named Pearl.