Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Once Is Enough...

One thing is really clear now: I'm not the person I was when I moved to Virginia. Come April, I'll have lived here for thirteen years. It's nearly impossible for me to believe I've been here this long.

I've said several times over the years that moving to Virginia is one of the best decisions I've ever made. Lately, though, I've wondered how true that is. I gained some things by doing it, but it took me a lot longer to start realizing some of the things I've lost. I don't know how it all balances out yet.

And then I think back to how the prospect of me moving to Virginia went from an abandoned notion to a real possibility in a matter of weeks in February/March of 1998. It started when I got laid off from the fiberboard factory I'd gone to after leaving the paper bag plant. There was another bag plant in Richmond that I knew about. After a few weeks of collecting unemployment checks, filling out job applications, and getting no offers, I planned out a vacation, went to Richmond for the first time, and filled out more job applications, including the one at that bag plant (and got a tour of it the same day).

Frankly, I wasn't expecting to get anything. My plan was to go back to Massachusetts and continue looking for work until I got a new job. I came down here just to satisfy my curiosity. But then I got the job at the bag plant, during my vacation. That was the only job offer I would get between the lay-off and the day I started working in Richmond in April, even though I still filled out applications in Massachusetts before I moved. I think about that time, and for the life of me, I can't see not moving to Virginia under those circumstances. It's almost as if I didn't have much say in the matter. I may not be sure whether or not there is a God, no matter what I call myself, but I'm reasonably certain that free will is, more or less, a crock.

That, and after a few weeks, the novelty of not having to work starts wearing off. Fast.

But you know what? If there was a way to go back in time to early 1998 and do it all over again, I wouldn't do it. It's not a question of what I would do differently; it's a question of how my decisions would play out the second time. There's no way of knowing, is there? Hell, I didn't know things would play out the way they actually did. How do I know they wouldn't play out worse the second time?

I have some regrets now; I don't want to know what kind of regrets I would have a second time around, on top of those of the first. Fortunately, I'll never know. Nobody can see into the future, but maybe... just maybe... there's a very good reason for that.

Once is enough.

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