Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Such Is Life...

In the spring of '97, I was working at a paper bag factory in Pepperell, Massachusetts. I had recently transferred to its printing department from another department, and had become an assistant press operator. This was my first printing job. I remember being maybe five or six weeks into it, and although some of the people in that department were hard to work with, I had decided to try and make a career in printing. I remember saying, yeah, I can do this for another ten years -- why not? I even remember calling my mother up one day and asking her for advice on buying a house -- that's how serious I was about making a career in printing. I kind of had a band on the side, and I wanted to try and get that off the ground, too, but I wasn't about to quit my full-time job over it. What I was looking into first was putting down some roots.

Then, one afternoon in late June of that year, I went to work and found out that the headquarters in Minneapolis was in the process of shutting the Pepperell plant down. Long story short, I forgot about buying a house, I ended up leaving the Pepperell plant working at a couple more places in the area, that band of mine pretty much fell apart on the tarmac, the second company I went to laid me off, and in April of '98, I packed up my stuff, moved to Richmond, Virginia, and tried to start a new life.

Moving to Richmond turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made; starting work at the job I landed beforehand turned out to be one of the worst. Those first couple of years down here on my own, starting from scratch, were brutal. But in December of '99, I started working at the print shop I currently work for, again as an assistant press operator. I started from the bottom because this company utilizes offset litho machinery; I was accustomed to flexo presses, a whole different breed of printing, so I had no choice but to start over.

Funny thing, though, I ended up giving the printing business the ten years I had intended to give it while I was in Pepperell, all at this Richmond-area print shop instead. Actually, I've given it eleven years -- and counting. Now that I've done so, I find that I'm at a crossroads in my life. The road that brought me to Richmond doesn't end at this print shop. I can see that it goes on and on. I wasn't expecting that.

So now I have to make a decision: do I stay with the print shop and reconsider putting down some roots, or do I leave it behind and see where the rest of this road goes? I can't do both. And I can't move back to New England, either -- I've spent the bulk of my life there, and if things had worked out better than they did in that time, I would never have moved to Virginia. It's just not in the cards. I know it would be a disaster.

Still, I have to make a decision. I've got my brain telling me to stick with the print shop for as long as I can, my heart telling me to get going down that road already, and my spirit telling me that no matter which I choose, I'm going to regret not choosing the other. So, what I'm going to do is pay close attention to what happens at the print shop for the next two months. I'm there too much time out of the week as it is -- I might as well start scrutinizing the hell out of what goes on there. No matter what happens, I'll be moving out of my current apartment later this year. But what I'm looking for at this print shop is at least one good reason to convince me to stay there -- and they have two months to come up with one good reason.

Come April, I'll let you all know whether they succeeded or not. After that, I think my decision will be pretty clear...

1 comment:

  1. FWIW, I've never regretted making any of the major moves in my life. It's the one that I did not make has always left me wondering. Pay attention to the print shop and listen to your heart. You'll find an answer.

    You could do far worse than to stay in Richmond. I still have many fond memories of my years there.


This is a First Amendment zone, but I do use word verification now. If you don't like that, well, this is also a Fifth Amendment zone. Take your pick...