For Old Time’s Sake
Baby Arnie with younger me. Back when Arnie was spelled Arne with an umlaut over the "e." Of course, that's all changed since I've come to recognize the pup as an all-American. Plus, the dogtag companies don't do umlauts. Neither does blogger for that matter. This photo was taken by Megan Davis in Backbone’s old offices. Arnie came to work with me from day 1. In those days, desks at backbone were old doors propped on filing cabinets, and Arnie happily napped under my door all day.
This was when Penn and Megan sat across from me, Jess sat behind us, and everyday at 3 pm something happened that caused me to behave as though I dosing painkillers. “The Punchy Hour” we called it, when everything was funny, every comment snarky and I fell off my exercise ball at least once an hour. We laughed out loud, we ribbed each other and it probably came out in our work, which could be why we became such good friends with our clients.
Last February, I left the outdoor industry for about a year, and the whole time I was away (even at my recent fancy job that had me flying to LA and Phoenix for casting calls and post-production work), I missed it. I missed the Punchy Hour, the camaraderie, the ability to say any thing at any time to any one in the company, whether he’s the CEO or the secretary (who am I kidding? No one in the outdoor industry has secretaries).
In the real world, people thought it weird when I reported that my plan for the weekend was to drive 6 hours to a climbing area where I’d sleep in my vehicle, willingly wake up early, walk an hour or more with a very heavy pack to suffer on a route that's probably too hard for me. (What’s weird about that?)
They, in turn, thought me hopeless because I didn’t want to see the Transformers movie, didn’t plan my evenings around television shows, didn’t believe in God (though, as an agnostic, I do believe in that Great Golden Retriever in the sky – sorry for the blasphemy, religious readers), didn’t want to have kids because I’m afraid of our overpopulated world…..I mean, yeah, it’s bizarre for sure, but there are at least a few people like me in the outdoor industry, so it just feels good to be back there.
I’m glad I left, though. I needed to get different experience. I needed to be humbled and learn new skills and “diversify” (groan). But I never skinned through fresh powder before dawn with my boss at Fancy Job, like I did with Penn and Bill and Len and Rich one morning in Steamboat. And I never stayed at his house and got to know his family like I did Bill’s. And I just didn’t care the same way. I didn’t want to know that my clients and colleagues were well and healthy and happy because I genuinely cared for them, I asked because I thought I should. I didn't attach myself in the same way; I didn't make my work a part of myself.
But now, sitting at this campsite above Moab, Brad riding his motorcycle and the dogs snoozy at my feet, I know where I belong.