Monday, April 30, 2012

The Louisville Story (or, How I Stayed Out of South Carolina)

I rarely blog about events going on in my real life, mostly because I find it hard to believe that any of my readers would be at all interested in what’s happening on this end of the keyboard. While I love creating fantastic worlds and interesting stories, I feel that my life (and the lives of most people, probably) are, day to day, quite boring. But I suppose that, examined on a day to day basis, the lives of most story and movie characters are pretty boring too (Raymond Chandler never wrote “Philip Marlowe and Case of the Boring Bail-Jumper”). It’s the singular exciting events, once in a year or five or ten, that are actually worth retelling. 

I had one of those events this week.

As some of you may or may not have been aware, I was laid off from my job in January. During the day I’m an architect (designer, project manager, intern- use whatever word you like best). The recession in America has hit the construction industry very hard, especially firms relying heavily on government contracts, as the firm I worked for was. When the government money dried up, so did the jobs, and several people, myself included, found themselves without a job.

When the lease on our apartment expired sixty days ago (to the day), my wife and I had a hard decision to make. Would we re-sign our lease and plan on staying in the city we knew and loved (and risk having to break the lease if I got a job out of town), or would we not re-sign and come up with a plan for when the lease expired? In the end we decided to not re-sign. That gave me sixty days to find a new job (and a new place to live) before we had to move. Our back-up plan was to move in with her parents… in South Carolina. Six hours away from our friends.

I thought that sixty days would be plenty of time to find a job. How hard could it be, really? 

The answer seems obvious to me now; a LOT harder than I could’ve imagined. No jobs materialized ANYWHERE, and by last Monday we were five days from moving to South Carolina. I was at a low point- I honestly didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to leave my friends and the city I loved behind. I had too many good memories of college and post-graduation that I didn’t want to lose. But it was the only thing that made financial sense. We could save our money and maybe send my wife back to graduate school. She’d had to drop out after I got laid off- the particular program gave out failing grades if you had to leave in the middle of the semester, and had I gotten a job anywhere else we’d have had to move and ruin her GPA. 

A week ago today, I had just come to terms with the fact that we’d be moving. I’d started to move past the sadness and face reality, determined to make the best of the situation no matter what happened.

And that was when I got the call about a job. In an adjacent city (about an hour and a half away). At around 3pm last Monday, a principal at an architecture firm found a resume that I’d dropped off months ago that was left on his credenza and forgotten. He called me, and the next day I went in for an interview. 

Dare I get my hopes up? We were mere days away from moving. What if it didn’t work out? I waited to mention the job to my friends and family; I’d already told all of them of my imminent move. They’d ridden the roller coaster of job interviews and job rejections with me for months. I didn’t want to get anyone else’s hopes up either. 

I was offered the job on Thursday. On Friday my wife and I drove to the city to find a new apartment to live in. We found a place, signed a lease that day, and moved into the apartment on Saturday, thanks to the help of an army of friends who came out of the woodwork to help, grateful that I’d found a job so close to home.

My wife loves made-for-TV teenager movies. There’s no shame in that, but in my opinion, some of them have some of the most ridiculous storylines I’ve ever heard. If I’d watched my story play out in one of those movies, I’d have rolled my eyes at it. That just doesn’t happen in real life. People don’t actually get last-minute life changing information like that. The perfect job never opens up at just the right time to prevent someone from moving away from home. Legions of helpful people don’t just materialize to help out and make something huge happen for the sake of their friends. 

But it happened to me. 

I don’t like the word “religious” (because that word has received such a negative connotation in connection with people forced to follow a strict set of laws in order to win favor with God), but I do consider myself a Christian. Like most Christians, from time to time in moments of difficulty I have trials of faith, moments when God seems far away. I’ve had a few of those in the last few months. But if I ever needed proof that God listens, cares about me and has an investment in my joy, I’ve found it. I can simply find no other explanation for what just occurred in my life. 

In a manner of speaking, I feel like Abraham, asked to take his son Isaac to the mountaintop. In the seconds before Abraham was to slay his son as an offering to God, after Abraham had already admitted to himself that this was the way that things had to be, only then did God intervene. I don’t consider myself a man of great faith like Abraham. I don’t consider myself a lucky person either. I rarely believe in coincidence or luck, chaos theory or what have you. For something this huge, this important, this undeniably miraculous, I have to give credit where credit is due. Thanks, God.

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