Following a year working and enjoying spending free time along the gulf coast I landed a new job with a giant in the retail industry about 250 miles north again. After the interview and acing a jinky test about stack management disguised as a filing cabinet problem I was hired, trained, assigned tasks and handed a beeper. I'd never had a beeper before, work-related or otherwise, and I had misgivings about it. The on-call duty was rotational but it had some crappy rules associated with it (like a mandatory 10-minute response time). Regardless, I had agreed to take the job and it was located in a big glass behemoth of an office building with plenty of windows and sunshine filling my workspace–something I had grown fond of.
Rented a duplex too damn far away from the office building as a compromise with my soon-to-be ex so we wouldn't have to travel so far to see each other after she took a job about 60 miles away and bought a crappy little prefab house close to her job without consulting me beforehand. Fine. I didn't care. I could see the light at the end of that tunnel and was steadily moving toward it. The duplex was clean and easy to live in, not too close to city noise but the daily commute (round trip) was over 40 miles and a lot of it had to be driven on an atrocity called the LBJ Freeway. I despised LBJ and the damned freeway named after him.
Living in the duplex was okay. It had lots of daylight coming in through a skylight in the living room and a fireplace which I never used. There were plenty of city amenities a short drive away and I could mow the little patch of lawn with an old-fashioned push mower just fine. One evening after a grueling day at work, I pulled into the semi-garage at the back of the duplex and was gathering work materials to take into the house when a nice looking lady living in the duplex behind me waved happily and announced she had just passed the BAR exam. We had never spoken to each other before but I genuinely congratulated her even though I was not a big fan of lawyers and hoped I would never have to hire one. But she was beaming and obviously in an elevated state of happiness and I was about to say something recklessly cavalier like "Congratulations! Want to celebrate over dinner at a nice restaraunt together?" but I didn't because of my soon-to-be ex which I did not want to give any reason to contest the upcoming divorce papers I would be handing to her about a year later. So I just waved back and congratulated the new lawyer and went inside the duplex, instead, because I was tired and was on beeper duty with a long commute ahead of me in the morning along that stinking freeway known as the LBJ. Who knows what happiness the happy new lawyer and I might have found together, but no risk taken and no damage done.
I don't mind long commutes over rural roads but city commutes are the worst driving experience of all. So when I could I rode the bus and studied specifics of job assignments during the ride to and from work. This made the commuting surprisingly bearable, even pleasant. But driving to see my soon-to-be ex was a total pain in the ass and I slowly but surely stopped even doing that just a few weeks after starting the new job, which was going well...except for that damned beeper. I was able to adhere to the 10-minute response time rule even though it required finding a phone booth if I was out and about town or commuting. And I couldn't ride the bus on days I was on beeper duty, which irked the hell out of me. Also, my supervisor was apparently a member of the MENSA club and carried a MENSA coffee cup around to remind everyone he was a genius. He thought it was a weapon of aggression. I considered it a shield of deep insecurities. So I began searching for another job and landed one eight months after going to work in the retail giant's big glass building with a banking giant in another big glass building right smack downtown in a city 14 miles east. The best part was that after the interview for that job, a short walk a couple of blocks south of the office building I found a high-rise apartment building with vacancies, and the rent was even less than I was currently paying for the duplex. Three days later I received the offer, secured an apartment in the high-rise, tendered my resignation (effective immediately without explanation) and spent the weekend moving into the new downtown apartment before leaving on another two-week vacation out west, solo canoeing and camping in some of the most remote and scenic locations in Utah and Colorado to my heart's content.
That vacation cemented a desire to eventually move to the mountains somewhere remote and secluded. The Dot Com boom was just starting to ramp up and I imagined I could learn enough new stuff like HTML, Java and COBRA and such to land a job along the Front Range in Denver or maybe even Colorado Springs someday.That became life-changing goal number two after accomplishing life-changing goal number one: my no-contest, lawyer-free divorce, which was now less than a year from being totally realized and according to plan.
Supreme opportunities were opening up ahead, and I was eager to pursue them with gusto.