Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Journey Into The Unknown

I realized the other day that tomorrow will mark the 6th anniversary of my arrival in Virginia.
I remember the day fairly clearly, as the whole thing just seemed sort of surreal.
I started out the day in Tucson, where it was sunny and hot, and by the end of the day I was in Virginia, where it was nearly fifty degrees colder.
Shortly after I’d gotten up that morning, people showed up to load my car onto a truck to haul it to Virginia, and some time later the movers arrived and promptly emptied out my apartment.
Then it was off to the bus stop to catch a ride to the airport to have my first post-9/11 flying experience. I ended up being the person that was randomly-selected to be taken aside and more thoroughly searched. I think it was the leather jacket that did it.
AOL actually sprung for first class, which is when I learned that if you can get it as a cheap or free upgrade, it’s totally worth it, but it’s not worth the extra expense if you have to pay full price. Not if you’re not flying for more than a couple of hours, at any rate.
I had a layover in Denver, where I discovered that there was a bar in the airport that was designated as a smoking area, so I hauled my ass over to it. It had a two-drink minimum, but the place was so crowded that I was able to sneak in two cigarettes before anyone noticed me and tried to enforce the rule.
Though I’d lived in Tucson for nearly two years, I hadn’t lost my Northern-born tolerance for the cold. I remember getting off the plane at Dulles and feeling that initial chill and thinking, “Oh, right; cold,” then immediately acclimating to it.
Leaving the car rental area, in the dark, with only a print out of driving directions to guide me to the corporate housing, I naturally got hopelessly lost, ending up making multiple trips through toll plazas until finally spotting an exit for a street I recognized from the print out.
Knowing that I was in the general vicinity, but unable to spot any of the streets I was looking for, I drove around for about a half an hour until, defeated and thirsty, I stopped at a gas station to buy something to drink and to ask for directions.
No one at the gas station knew the place I was looking for, so I got back in the car to do some further searching. To get back onto the road I’d been on I had to take a right turn from the gas station parking lot and make a U-turn at the street running parallel to the street I was trying to get back to. As I was making the turn, I noticed that this, in fact, was the street I was looking for, and about 1,500 feet to my left was the corporate housing.
I’m forced to conclude that the people working in the gas station who didn’t recognize that the place I was looking for was right fucking there were either complete morons or complete assholes.
In short order I was checked into the corporate housing, which was an extended stay hotel, and was ready to start my new adventure.
By this time I’d hit the reset button on life a couple of times, but this time it felt like it was going to stick. I was, for the first time in my life, completely on my own: no friends, no family, and in a completely unfamiliar place.
I felt hopeful and uncharacteristically optimistic about the future.
Naturally that didn’t last, but still, it was a nice couple of minutes.
That Wednesday, like this one, was the day before Thanksgiving. I ended up spending the day alone in the hotel room, and my Thanksgiving dinner was a turkey sub from the Subway Express inside the gas station.
On the Friday I was taken apartment-hunting by a “Relocation Specialist,” and ended up finding a place in Ashburn. At that point I didn’t know where I was going to be working, as the NOC at that time had people working in Reston and Manassas. Those were just abstract place names for me at the time, though, and I trusted the Relocation Specialist when she said that I’d chosen a suitable location for a commute to either place. It ended up being Reston, which really wasn’t much a commute at all, so it actually worked out surprisingly well.
So that’s the abbreviated story of how Jon ended up in Virginia six years ago. Sure, it’s not exactly The Pilgrim’s Progress, but I still think it’s kind of entertaining.
There’s considerably less going on in my life now than there was 6 years ago. I’m mostly just waiting to get through tomorrow so I can start my long weekend.
Tomorrow, in commemoration of my auspicious arrival, will be Riff Trax night.
Actually, it’s just Riff Trax night and doesn’t commemorate anything.
Still, we’ll be able to get an early start on it, as I get off work at 3 (and probably even earlier than that).
Thursday I’ll be having dinner at Jamie and Casey’s house, along with Scott, Stacy, and their brood.
Beyond that, I have no plans for my time off. I’ll probably sleep a lot.
I sure as hell won’t be going out and shopping on Black Friday.

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