I know I'm not that old, but it seems life is very good at finding ways to make me realize that years have gone by. And just when I think I've identified all the potential trouble-spots and built in defenses, it has some sort of burst of creativity and finds a new one.
Last night, my younger daughter was over looking for some paperwork she needs to get settled into her new job and we got to talking. She's been working since she was 15, so it's not like this is a new thing. That's how it is when you're young and really haven't figured out a "career". She's worked a lot of retail and janitorial over the years, but this time it's different. This job has a feature none of them have ever had before -- her own desk. And she gets to put stuff on it.
Well, believe me, I have got this one handled. I have desk-dreck from hell to breakfast around here. So when the paperwork chase ended, a new hunt began through all the boxes of stuff that came home when my company set us all up to work from home.
As we dug down through the geologic ages, we found a box from the job before this one. That was a bittersweet thing. When I boxed everything up to leave that office, it wasn't a happy thing. And because in a lot of ways I still have baggage from that, I hadn't unpacked some of them.
There is some cool stuff in there. (Well, some. Those Episode 1 Taco-Bell cups lidded with the top-half of some of the characters are not and never will be cool). And some of the memories it brings back are good. There's some tourist stuff a friend brought back to me from Kennedy Space Center as a thank-you to me and the kids for watching his cat while he was away. The piggy-bank shaped like a toilet a coworker used to use to express his opinions about situations sometimes. The reason the box was suspiciously heavy turned out to be what is usually referred to as a Tombstone around those parts -- my Ship-it award for Office 2000.
But it also brings back the hard parts. The horrible work that came when those flush-ready ideas got dredged back up by management, and the way I had to leave. The friend and I have grown apart and the cat that was babysat died recently.
It was oddly poignant for her, too. That summer was a watershed for all of us, as a family. The kids spent a lot of time at that office when we all first ended up on our own, so on top of the geek standards of action figures and whatnot, the box also contained some mementos of those long days the kids spent trying to keep themselves occupied while I tried to get something done, all of us trapped in that little purple box.
After some amazed and amused banter between us that I still had this stuff, she went off to cook dinner for her husband with a bobble-headed doll of her favorite character from Soul Caliber and a promise that I would look for a couple other things she might find interesting. And I think I need to unpack these boxes, in more ways than one.
Kids are smarter than we sometimes like to think they are. Over the years, mine have shown plenty of wit and wisdom. A couple good examples to kick this off:
"Never answer the question of how you displayed leadership with this-one-time-in-Halo...." - advice from son to sister about applying for a job.
"Knowing what you DON'T want to do when you grown up isn't nearly as helpful as you would hope." - daughter on figuring out what to do after high school