10 April 2007

I can't go back

Today is my lucky day! I found a penny (heads up) outside Dunkin Donuts this morning, and then I won a free bagel on the scratch game on the side of my coffee. Yeah baby, that's what I'm talking about!

How I got there is interesting, at least to me, and may have far-reaching implications for the rest of my life. See, today is the day I think I finally realized:

I can't go back.

I rode to work this morning, departing super-early and hitting the lakefront path for a sub-threshold workout. I rolled into SRAM about 7, parked my bike at my desk, hit the shower, grabbed my bag and headed downstairs. All the 20" SRAM courtesy bikes were gone, so I grabbed an 18.5 and headed out the door ...

(Yes, you read that right. SRAM has a fleet of green Rolla bikes that we get to use to go to/from lunch and appointments. How cool is that? I was cruising in style.)

With my "biker jacket," rolled jeans and bag, riding with my knees in my chest, I looked a bit more messenger and a bit less bike geek/commuter, or at least that's what I told myself when I rolled up to Aon Center. I was a bit early for my appointment, so I headed inside and down to Starbucks ... and that's when it hit me.

I can't go back.

For most of 3 years, that Starbucks was my go-to place -- for meetings, for head clearing, for java. It was very much a part of my life: in some places, beer is the currency; at Aon, it was all about the mid-morning Starbucks run. I learned several very important life lessons from mentors and friends on those comfy chairs, and I made some very important decisions there.

As I walked in, dressed as I was and surrounded by suits, I realized that this was not me. The tables had been removed to make more room for the line of bleary-eyed execs. Here I was amongst my "peers," and in that one moment I realized that I rejected everything they were, everything they represented. No longer am I part of the zombie culture, subsisting under the flourescents in dark caverns: I am a creature of the light, able to hop on a company-provided bike in early-morning sunshine to cruise to an appointment. I don't work in an office so much as I work in a combination warehouse/bike shop. And I love it. Most importantly, I realized:

I can't go back.

It would kill me.

In some ways, I've come full circle. What started in March and April of 1998 has culminated in where I am today, in April 2007. See, the close of Act I of Rent ends with an ensemble number dedicated to the "Bohemian" lifestyle, "La Vie Boheme." Nine years ago, somewhere between "This is Calcutta" and Maureen mooning Benny, something clicked in my head and I started to change. And on a day like this, a morning so glorious that it could only be spent pedaling around the Loop on a green Rolla with a giant-sized squeaky squeeze head, all I could think about was the lyrics that helped change my life:

To days of inspiration/making something out of nothin'
The need to express/to communicate
To going against the grain/going insane/going mad
To loving tension/No pension/to more than one dimension
To starving for attention/hating convention/hating pretension
Not to mention, of course, hating dear old Mom and Dad ...
To riding your bike, mid-day, past the three-piece suits!
To fruits/to no absolutes/to Absolut
To choice/to The Village Voice
To any passing fad! ...
To being an us for once
Instead of a them
La vie Boheme!


David Johnsen said...

I know the feeling. It's really something when it hits you. I'm not saving the world, but I could never go back to the corporate office life. These days I feel like a country bumpkin when I walk around downtown among the suits and ties, it's so foreign to me.

Chris said...

That's a great way to describe it. This morning felt so foreign. Which is weird, considering that my whole life has been focused on getting me into and being successful in that very environment. And it explains why I've been so miserable (the only way to describe it!) the past 5-1/2 years -- my mindset changed, but I didn't realize what it was. Now I have the benefit of a bit of an "outsider's perspective," and I can see how much that life isn't for me. I'm finally able to identify that it was the culture that was killing me.

mountaingoat said...

Nice post.