July 6, 2016

Happening Ten Years Time Ago

This was where I lived in St. Louis. Pretty cool, huh? 
Funny how the smallest things can lead to greater insights.

This past weekend, I spent some time in my yearly clean-up/organizing efforts - going through papers, tearing up and prepping for recycling, when I came across some old papers from my last job in St. Louis.

Ten years ago.

Ten years ago, I was working for a local nonprofit - a settlement house. (I'm not going to name names because...well, this post will be rather inflammatory, and I have little interest in revisiting old hurts). My recently-discovered paperwork concerned my then-supervisor's efforts to create a hostile work environment. My job, at the time, was a federally funded effort, and I understood both the requirements of the grant as well as the needs to run the program.

My then-supervisor had (I later found out) been reluctant to hire anyone, and was doing everything he can to provoke me. So much so that at this point, my emotional well-being was a wreck. Worrying about Mom (who was well into the process of pre-liver transplant preparation) and Dad (who was having heart problems, possibly requiring a triple bypass) did not help. So my records were, well, formal documentation.

What's also striking is that, within a month, my father would have surgery...and pass away a week before Labor Day. My then-supervisor and I had a showdown with his boss. And it was within that month that I decided to leave St. Louis.

(It helped that when I talked about it with Mom, I asked her if she needed me to move back - not wanted, but needed. Even though my aunt would be coming up to live and care for her, Mom needed me to come back. And I sure as heck wasn't going to argue).

In recent weeks, I've felt a slight nostalgia for St. Louis - not to the point where I want to move back, but certain memories are making themselves present. Perhaps it's the current state of activity I'm in, but there were some really small memories - moments - that I really am starting to treasure about my experience there.

(And I don't worry about missing out on catching up - I may not make it back to St. Louis on a regular basis, but we always have mutual visits to Chicago, as well as Facebook).

Moments like the one-and-only time a female friend and I went out to lunch...and then to the library. (Yes, I was a jackass. If it had been an honest-to-goodness date, I would have messed up). Fun with a long-standing colleague whom I have lost contact with - I'm tempted to look this person up on Facebook, but they deserve their privacy. Regular interaction with friends that are now occasional Facebook updates and/or phone calls.

But in all honesty....moving to Chicago was probably one of the best actions I've ever taken in my life. Nothing wrong with St. Louis - after recovering from a devastating breakup, I needed a place to reinvent myself. St. Louis provided a great, safe environment for me to "grow up" and mature, developing my independence and gaining self-respect and self-confidence.

The past ten years have been a challenge....but quite honestly, I've come far.

(Post-script: that former supervisor? Last I heard, he eventually left that particular organization - I'm not sure whether he left voluntarily or was "encouraged" to leave - but he's supposedly consulting. I think it's safe to say...I've moved onto bigger and better bosses. And as a freelancer/consultant, I'm know I'm definitely better off).

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