Coming home to California was not exactly my idea. Have you ever been laid off from a job? This is what it felt like. Who could know it would turn into a new life?From my 2004 journal:
"John, could you come to Conference Room B,” the voice of my boss requested over the phone.
Well, here it comes,” I said to myself.
You read about layoffs. You know people who have been laid off. But, trust me, until it happens to you, you have no idea what it is really like.
Several people had received similar calls before me. The looks of fear, anger, resignation and defiance were plain to see. I counted myself among the resigned.
Truth of the matter was we had all known something of this sort was coming for quite some time. During the time leading up to that final day, I felt variety of emotions ranging from relief to fear to depression. Suicide was a possibility I entertained. What is a fifty-seven year old man going to do? What are his job prospects? Is there any future worthy of considering?
I did not enjoy what I was doing for a living. I was doing it for the money, not a dishonorable pursuit, but not very satisfying. I did the job reasonably well, but there was no joy in it.
In addition to losing my job, I had recently had some medical diagnostics done which pointed toward a major surgery. The surgery was scheduled for a several weeks after the layoff. That surgery would have to be canceled until other matters were resolved.
Up to Conference Room B I went. There sat the Grim Reapers. They were not enjoying themselves. My boss was near tears and the personnel person was steeled for her ugly task looking like no one as much as Nurse Ratchet from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” The usual severance speech was given. I suppressed my fear and anger, defaulting to resignation, and did my best to not make them feel worse than they already did.
And so began my journey home. I had a trip planned to see my eldest son in California long before layoffs appeared on the horizon. I debated with myself whether or not to go after the axe fell. I decided that I would go.
I had lived in the Midwest for over thirty years. I was a native Californian, but circumstances of one kind and another conspired to keep me in the center of the country. Those circumstances included college and graduate school, marriage, career, children and a variety of other factors. There had been several personal disasters along the way, including a divorce, but I had survived them all and remained where I was. But this most recent misfortune seemed to be a turning point.
I had been back to California several times in the last few years. I had renewed my love for the state during those trips. With the loss of my job, I again got on the plane heading west.
My son, Will, met me at the airport in Sacramento. The weather was unusually cool for that city in July. We went to his girl friend’s house and celebrated the 4th of July and finalized our plans for a few days at Point Reyes and the Bay area.
Why would I stay in the Midwest?” I asked myself while enjoying the balmy and sunny weather and the company of my son next to the pool.
Well, there were good answers to that question. I had professional licenses and connections there. While finding a good job would be difficult, it would be far easier there than anywhere else. But that was it: no personal relationships, no affection for place and no family. All the family I had, three children and a brother were elsewhere, my brother in Florida and the children in California.
Time to go home.
Will I miss the freezing cold of January or the stifling heat and humidity of August in Missouri? Not a bit.
But I sure will miss the St. Louis Cardinals. As this is written (September 2004), they are having their best season in many years. By the end of September they were over 100 wins and playing everybody but the bat boy in preparation for the post season.
But aside from not being able to see the Cards, there is nowhere on earth I would rather be than Northern California.
I need a job. We just had a 6.0 earthquake and numerous after shocks. There have been some fires in the hills. But my God, how I love this beautiful place, my birth place.