My god I am predictable. Just over a month ago, just as my job was changing, I moved in to a new townhouse on the other side of the city. It’s a castle compared to my old place – which says more about my old place than my new one. When I moved to Fredericton almost two years ago, it was meant to be temporary in every way. I gave it two years, at most. I was here for the experience. I was here, most certainly, to prove a whole lot to myself.
It was nine months after my surgery that I called my boss and asked him out for a drink at a bar in Sydney. His house was already packed up – he was travelling back and forth from Fredericton while he put in his finals days in Sydney. We met at a bar around the corner from his hotel.
We talked about the last five years in Sydney, about how I went from being the low man on the totem pole in the newsroom to being the News Director and co-host of a morning show – landing a career in an industry I had never really expected to be in.
I told him that night, I believe for the first time, that I had accepted the job with Newcap Radio because the community newspaper I owned had cashflow problems and I was on the verge of losing the big printer we used to publish the paper. I took the radio job because it was a paycheque at the right time. I had already been taking shifts at a local call centre and was designing webpages on the side just to keep the business afloat. And even that wasn’t enough. More than once my father dropped by our office with a box of 11X17 paper in the back of his truck. I’m sure he wondered just how long we were going to struggle along with this this but each time he’d pull away a part of me was sure he was proud of what my brother and I were doing. He read every issue we put out over the years – and especially loved my brother’s hilarious column “Big Billy Bay Bye” which I still believe is the only reason anyone actually bought the paper week after week.
But after a year in radio I was hooked. I sold the paper to a guy who owned another nearby, cashed the cheque, and headed south. Drunk on a beach in the Dominican Republic I decided I was going to stay in radio. I had the chance to stay on with the paper, and work for the new owner, but it just didn’t sound fun to me. I liked the challenge of radio. I liked the size of it. But mostly I loved the pace of radio. With two stations in the building – I loved the idea that while everyone else had just 24 hours in their day, we were responsible for 48.
We had been talking for about fifteen minutes when I looked across the table and told my boss I wanted to be a part of his new project in Fredericton, no matter the job. This wasn’t about making a career move. The Fredericton market is comparable size to Sydney. The pay didn’t really change all that much. As it turned out – the job was pretty much the same. I’d ended up running the newsroom and being on a morning show.
The decision, like so many I’ve made in the last two and half years, was a selfish one. I left behind a girlfriend I cared for deeply, and a mother whose side I had barely left since since my father passed away. Why was it so important for me to leave?
It was because I needed to stand on my own. I needed to know I could live alone and still make good choices. I needed to know I could face the stress of regular life and not revert back to my old ways. I was scared to death and was completely indecisive. In fact, the night before I left I sat at Tim Horton’s in the Sterling holding my girlfriend’s hand and knew I was making the wrong choice. My brother was on a bus heading toward Cape Breton. We were packing the U-Haul in the morning and moving me to Fredericton.
At midnight I told him I had changed my mind and I wasn’t going.
At 9AM we packed the the U-Haul. My brother did what brother’s do – he told me if I wanted to come back home in a couple of weeks he’d help – but I was going now.
That was two years ago – and truthfully most of my life is still just me walking around like a deer on ice. I keep trying to say “yes” to new things because I’m still retraining myself to live this new life. And it is a new life. If I had to live another day like I was back then I’d feel like I was drowning, and if I took who I was back then and tried to make him put in a day like I do now – he’d collapse in the corner by 10AM. Life has gotten much bigger than I could have handled back then.
This last month has been filled with a lot of change, and the cast of characters around me has shifted as I figure out just what it is I want out of each day. I feel like I did the week after I sold the paper. I have no idea if any of this is forever, but I’m positive it’s for good.
I have never been more certain about what I want. I know what I want to accomplish, and I know who I want to keep close as I try. That’s the risky part. When I didn’t expect very much of myself, whatever I got was enough. But the risk these days is how will I react if I don’t get what I want? Truthfully, I don’t know, because I’ve never wanted this much before.