I suppose the normal state of being for a man my age is that of routine. I admit to falling into routine just as soon as those weeks in Slovakia stretch into months. During these "normal" times, my days are filled with comfort, with work, with the needs of my young daughter, cooking, working out, music, writing, and projects. During these times, I have to remind myself to go out and see a concert, to go out to a cafe or for a drink, or to arrange a weekend away. This, what I'm describing, is the normalcy I have created, by choice, in this one life I have.
The only thing that seems to jolt me out of my routines is travel (real travel, not just a weekend road trip). To travel is to cleanse the palette of routine...to quickly forget the routine from just days ago. Each time travel forces me out of my routine, I emerge into a world in which little is familiar. Days on the road become a journey of self-discovery, a test of character, and even a re-invention of oneself. Also, the effects of travel do not end upon my return; as upon my return I always fall into a different routine from the one I was just torn from.
Now in the Vancouver airport, I reflect upon the last few weeks. First there were two weeks visiting my parents in small-town Wisconsin. Sofia, little Isabella and I burst onto the scene with our usual energy and soon collided head-on with the comfortable, 20-year, uninteruppted routine of my parents. During these few weeks, I had regular radio interviews, I landed a new job at a software company in Vancouver...in short, we had places to go and things to see. Our little Isabella had a whole new house to discover and new trouble to find (imagine a one year old crawling up the stairs when we weren't looking!). I love my parents dearly, and I know they feel the same about me, but the clash of routine and the years spent growing in different directions boils down to one simple fact: two weeks is too long to spend with parents once you have your own family!
Next, I flew off on my own to Vancouver in order to start a new job. I recently left the world's second largest software company because I really couldn't stand working for such a large corporation. I saw little earnings potential in my role, little ability to impact the organization, and no real reason to be there other than for the regular paycheck. It no longer fit in my life, so I quit. Week's later, I found this really fun, growing software company in Vancouver. I'll still work from home in Slovakia, selling software that impacts the way companies sell digital content on-line. My job is to find opportunities at many of the largest Media and Telco companies worldwide.
My week here is filled with vivid memories. This is a very young company filled with "oh-so-hip" kids peering through their typical West Coast thick-rimmed glasses combined with a very international set of unique, strong, opinionated adults. The office is filled with lots of cussing and arguing amidst lots of laughter. My bosses strut around in their sneakers and sweat-shirts and basically make shit up as they go along. Come to think of it, it isn't even clear whether they shower. Basically, it is the same kind of company I joined more than 10 years ago. That one crashed-and-burned under the weight of its own stupidity and arrogance after 9/11. We'll see what happens this time around. But as long as they keep paying me what they agreed to each month, I'll go along for the ride.
Even if dampened by the persistent rain, to look out the 24th-floor window of my downtown Vancouver hotel room was instant inspiration to get out and see the city. I typically headed toward lively Granville Avenue and enjoyed the smell of joints here and there combined with the smell of Asian food. I saw two really crappy bands not worth mentioning over a few pints of stale Canadian beer at the Roxy. I left the club when an abnoxious girl who had recently vomited in the bathroom kept asking me to sit with her and her boyfriend (no thanks). Another night, I took in a theater production at the Playhouse. Last night, my bosses took me out to see the Vanvouver Cannucks play the last hockey game of the regular season. Let's see...I also had lunch at a very interesting place called Elbow Room. It is run by two old gay men who basically taunt their customers until you either fall in love with the place or run away crying. Oh, and then there's the Thai food I've been missing in Eastern Europe. Also, if you ever get to Vancouver, go have an Australian Lamb Burger at the Speakeasy on Granville...damn that was good!
Now it's back to Chicago, a long midnight drive through Wisconsin back to my parent's, and then we're all returning to Europe to find our next routine.