On How I Got Here

About two months ago, I guess, I was feeling particularly sentimental. It happens.

Time changes people. I was a sad, sullen person at the age of twenty-five. At thirty, I feel genuinely happy, perhaps even content. It’s like the pieces of my life have come together well, and though there are some pieces of the puzzle missing, the picture incomplete, life has treated me well.

I moved to North Carolina on a whim. I had been working for Electronics Boutique, managing the store at the corporate office, and while I really loved the work I did and the people I worked with, I also felt a growing unease. It was a difficult work environment I had, in the sense that I had a hundred bosses, because of my proximity to the halls of power. Where other managers had a certain latitude to do things the way they saw fit, I had a hundred sets of eyes over my shoulder every day, watching every move I made. Paranoia was my constant companion.

Last spring my supervisor called me up. What was my relocatability? she asked. I mulled the question, and said, There’s nothing tying me to Pennsylvania. She thanked me and hung up. A few weeks later, I had the chance to ask her, Why did you want to know? A store opening in Billings, Montana? No, she said, it was another store in the area, and she and her boss thought it would have fit my particular talents, but the district manager for that store had other thoughts. But this put the mind to thinking. Might there be another place for me, someplace free of the entanglements I felt every day? And so, a week later I told her that I wanted a transfer, or barring that, I’d tender my resignation.

I wanted to move south. I knew that. The company instead came back with two offers–Cleveland, or Manhattan. Cleveland I had no interest in; who wants to follow the Indians or the Browns? Manhattan, though. Oh, I was sorely tempted. New York City. Oh. I thought about it. I thought about it hard. Could I make it work? Would it be worth the trouble? The expense? In the end, I had to turn it down.

By July it looked as though nothing would happen, but at the end of the month the company offered me a position in Raleigh. Not as a store manager–there wasn’t an opening–but as an assistant manager in one of the largest volume stores in the company. The money was good, a slight paycut, so I took the offer. I moved in September.

By November I had my own store, and what had been a growing store began to boom when I arrived. I turned over most of the staff, hired a new one, and turned my assistant manager from someone my supervisor called “too young for the job” into someone who has all the talent and skill he needs to move up in the company, someone who my supervisor asks me every week if he’s ready to take the next step. In an environment where the company’s sales aren’t even meeting projections, my own sales are up fifty percent over sales plan. Good stuff.

One of the aspirations I long held was to be a published writer by the age of thirty. Well, I missed it by four months; my first published short story comes out in October, four months after I turn thirty. After that, February will see the publication of my first novella. Both are Star Trek stories, born a little from being in the right place at the right time and knowing the editors. I can’t say this was quite how I expected to be published–I used to have high hopes for the debate novel I wrote, only to realize much later how dreadful it was (and is)–but it’s publication. It’s credit.

I feel like I’ve turned a page in my life. That I’ve found success. And that’s a good feeling.

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