Monday, July 13, 2009


Every time I read or hear a story and it includes a line to the effect "...glad to be home...", I am reminded of a story of mine from about 20 years ago.

It was one of the several times I was in some level of distress and disappointment with my corporate IT job. I'd been working there about 6 years and had great success but, being the chronic malcontent I am, I didn't think they appreciated me enough. I was bored. They didn't do everything I wanted them to do (actually, in retrospect, they pretty much did let me do whatever I wanted...). I was bored. I wanted excitement. I wanted out.

So, this was the time before the web (I know, many of you can't imagine!) but we had what now appears as a really crude service called "netnews" where you could see articles posted from all over the world and we thought that was pretty cool. I started casually looking at articles for employment and, on a whim, I applied to a job (replied to the post with and email of my resume) that was posted at Intel in Santa Clara, CA.

That was the end of September 1989. I wouldn't be able to remember that date except that the Loma Prieta earthquake happened a couple of weeks later and I presumed that my job application would be lost in the rubble and the shuffle of rebuilding.

On December 19, I got one of the weirdest phone calls I've ever received around employment. The person on the phone, obviously a new hiring manager under pressure to fill a vacancy by year end, and after verifying that I was the person who had sent in the resume offered me a job. I said, "Don't you want to interview me first?". She said, "I'll get back to you...".

So, on December 21, I was in California for a full day of interviews. It was beyond surreal being there from any number of perspectives. While life there was functional, damage from the earthquake was everywhere and people were still in a great deal of shock. On the badge I was given when I was in Intel's offices were a full set of survival instructions - and you got that they all took this stuff very seriously. You could still see people in fear - some even in tears - trying to just get one foot in front of the other and show up and work.

The interviews went very well. They offered me the job (again) with about a $20k/year raise from what I was making currently. They twisted my arm to commit before I went back home but I told them I needed to talk to my wife 1st.

I went home wildly enthused about this great opportunity for "us" and so was sort of surprised that my wife not only didn't share my enthusiasm, she seemed to be more steeling herself to wish me well on this adventure by myself. We had a couple of difficult conversations and we agreed that, if we could make it work, we'd try it for a year but, in order to make sure it would work, we'd need to find a place to live.

In retrospect, they really wanted me because they happily paid for a trip for my wife and I to check out the area over a long weekend in early January. We both love that part of the world - I love San Francisco and the coastal areas north and south of there. It was beautiful. We went to some great AA meetings (some that I still talk about today...), met some great people, were just really in love with the prospect of being there. We met up with a Realtor and she showed us ~20 (not an exaggeration - may have even been more) properties in 3 days.

Working as hard as we could to find anything that would work, we finally found a townhouse that we would not have been ashamed of that we could barely afford if we sold our home in Colorado.

...there was the major rub...

At the time, the Denver paper had a Sunday supplement of about 20 pages (again, not an exaggeration) of HUD foreclosures. While our real estate market was tanking, the bay area was, well, being the bay area. We asked our Realtor to write a contingent offer on this townhouse and we would take a huge risk. Her face fell and we knew immediately we had a problem.

She hesitantly asked "...a contingent offer..."?

I thought she didn't understand. She assured me that I didn't understand.

She explained that the townhouse we wanted would likely have at least 3-4 offers by that evening - several for $$$$ more than the asking price. In 20 years, she had never written a contingent offer and certainly would presume it to be a waste of time.

We went back to my new boss and asked for a bridge loan or some way to make this thing work out financially. Suddenly, they didn't seem all that interested in my coming to work there after all...

We made our way home crushed and defeated. It had all seemed like it was supposed to work out that way - that we were being "led" - that miracles were causing us to be able to go out there and have a wonderful adventure.

On the way back into town, I noticed (yeah, I know, they're hard not to notice of you're not asleep but I'd spent a great deal of my waking moments asleep) the Flatirons and said "...well, if we have to be stuck somewhere, this is a pretty good place to be stuck..." It was a joke and it was the hard, undeniable truth.

My life since then has been, well, interesting.

I often wonder if I could have ever really moved there and lived in that pressure cooker society and culture - amidst a population density several times what it is here. If I could have learned serenity in the past few years in traffic instead of on the top of Rawlins pass. If I would have been able to have the wonders of my experience in AA and AA service there that I've had here.

I suppose none of that wondering contributes much to the great reality of my life today. I am here and here is perfect. God has used me here and that is a blessing beyond measure. I must still have work to do here because I am still here.

On our trip to NYC last April, I was reminded how much I still love other places that I used to get to more often.

...but, it was good, it is good, to be home...


Syd said...

Things have a way of working out according to God's plan. I like where I am and have stayed here. I don't want to be anywhere else. It is good to be at this place that I now call home.

Scott W said...

I have left Houston several times, but I always have come back. Here is where I am supposed to be and I wish the weather was better.

Mary Christine said...

I have left Colorado "permanently" a couple of times, but I am so so so glad that I am back here. I am clear that I could have stayed in Northern Washington though. I loved it there too.

Prayer Girl said...

That is a freaky kind of thing when all the signals seem to be turning green and you feel a God 'go ahead', then all of a sudden the light goes red.

So often God does not let me in on what He's up to. But I've learned to most of the time just let it be O.K. with me.


Steve E. said...

Home Sweet Home--it's where you hang your hat--and other things.

Mary Christine said...

Where's Ed G.?

Steve E. said...

Yes, I just also was alerted that Ed G has been "missing". Come on, ournumbers are falling rapidly with youse guys slacking off!