Ten Years in the Pacific Northwest
Apr 20 2016

It was just another day in December 2005. I languished in my lifeless gray cubicle at a credit union in Harrisburg, PA, cobbling together software that processed car loan applications.

That's when it hit me: I was dying inside.

Which city would save me from this meaningless existence? After considering a short list of potential destinations, it was clear that Seattle inspired me in so many ways.

Months of hype and preparation followed. I even put a Flash video on my site to set the tone:

My transition was slated for June 2006, but I found ways to shorten the timeline and officially arrived on April 29. I'd never set foot in Washington and didn't even have a job lined up. An optimist would call it courage, others would call it lunacy. Either way, I was determined to start a bold new chapter. And oh, what a chapter it has been.

Highlight: The Arrival

I drove 3,000 miles in a Saturn coupe packed with whatever I could fit into it, eyes wide open mile after mile. Never before had I ventured west. When I first entered Washington I panicked for a moment. It was dry and flat and unimpressive. I said to myself, "My God, what have I done? I just traded the farmlands of Pennsylvania for the flatlands of Washington."

But then, just as I passed Moses Lake, I spotted a patch of evergreens. The closer I got to western Washington the more my soul was at rest. When I got my first glimpse of the Seattle skyline, this song was playing on the stereo:

To this day, whenever I hear that song I freeze with nostalgia. It humbles me and reminds me of how desperate I was — and how lucky I am to be where I am today.

Highlight: Microsoft

I knew Seattle was Microsoft territory, and I also knew that I wasn't Microsoft material. When I received a call to interview for a contract position there, I figured it'd be a good experience if nothing else. I met an Australian fellow named Avi, and predictably I stumbled through most of the interview. To this day I still don't understand what he saw or heard, but he decided to give me a shot on his team. His decision would change my life.

Lowlight: The Perfect Storm

After several fruitful years on Avi's team, I found myself obsessed with a Microsoft technology called Silverlight. Ironically, it was easier to find Silverlight work outside of Microsoft than within, so I departed MS and joined a startup company in nearby Bellevue. Big, big mistake.

When I bailed from the startup I was still licking my wounds from a painful break-up, my first West Coast relationship. Depression was creeping in and it got worse when I learned my father was battling serious health issues. My weight skyrocketed to nearly 300 pounds. My brother eventually convinced me to return to PA — a move that just might have saved my life.

Highlight: Resurrection Part II

I was extremely grateful to reconnect with my family in PA, but it didn't take long to realize what I was missing in WA. I missed the energy and progressive mindset. The hollow feeling from 2005 was starting to creep back in and I knew what I needed to do. A rigorous workout regimen followed, and after dropping more than 100 pounds I returned to Washington.

I joined Microsoft as a contractor once again, mostly so I'd have the flexibility to travel to France. Upon returning to the States I became a full-time employee for the second time. It felt like I had finally "arrived," at least on the career front.

Highlight: Diane

I'd spent most of my thirties alone, focusing mainly on my career and surviving at Microsoft. Initially it was a good move; I was able to take a breath and evaluate areas where I needed improvement in the dating scene. But I discovered that too much "alone time" had diminishing returns. I had forgotten how to interact with women.

Then I met Diane in October 2015 and it changed everything. Suddenly I understood what a healthy relationship was supposed to be. Suddenly this crazy journey made sense.

Conclusion

Moving to Washington was a decision that dramatically changed my life. That decision was born in the midst of desperation and boredom, and I was extremely fortunate to be able to take a chance at Life Part II. If you find yourself at a similar crossroads, either now or in the near future, I must pose this question to you: is there any reason you shouldn't roll the dice?

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