Moving Day: A Retrospective

I spoke with the town home complex where I’ll be living and received my actual move-in date: July 24.

What a load off my mind, as strange as that seems considering everything in front of me. But I feel strangely comfortable when I have large projects in front of me. I love breaking down the details and plowing through the tasks that eventually lead to something bigger than I could even imagine.

I’m more excited, though, because I’m ready for the next phase of my life to get started. I’m so glad I came home for this job. I’m so glad that I’ve had the chance to see my old friends and my family. I’ve reconnected with so many people from my past, people who I haven’t seen — or spoken to — in years who helped me piece my life back together.

And along the way, I hope I’ve helped them with a thing or two as well. I don’t know that I have. I don’t know that they care.

I’ve also had the opportunity to meet some new friends as well. Some who will stay with me. Some who won’t. And some who have already gone. All of them have, in ways both good and bad, helped me find my way. For that, I’ll always be grateful. I know that things rarely end the way you want them to. But I also know that most things end regardless.

There’s a character on the television show The Wire named Jimmy McNulty. He’s an interesting character: a cop with a lack of morals outside his profession. Near the end of season 3, he says something like: The things that make me good for the job are the things that make me bad for everything else.

I loved McNulty before. I really loved him after.

McNulty isn’t in much of Season 4, having given up the job that — at one time — meant so much to him so that he could settle into the life he wanted. He pops up every now and again, a reminder that life goes on and that the people who really matter never truly leave.

(We’re going to skip the Season 5 McNulty because it doesn’t fit so well here. It is, after all, just a show and I am not a Baltimore cop. That I know of.)

I guess the point is today I feel like I’ve actually given up the job that at one time meant the world to me. When I took the position at NKU, it felt like a dream come true. Coming back to my family’s home state, coming back to Appalachia, coming to build a technology-based program.

Nothing could be better. I thought. As it turned out, it wasn’t everything that I’d hoped for. Some of that was me. Some of it wasn’t. I don’t know which caused which. Or if they were even related. I’ve tried to parse through that for past few months and to honest, I’m not sure that my state of mind was ever such that I’ll know that answer.

What I do know is that it became clear very early on that this wasn’t the job I thought it was and I wasn’t the person that the university needed.

But that’s what great about the world. It turns, tilted as it is, on its own axis. The seasons weren’t dependent upon my staying. So I didn’t.

And since I made that decision, everything has broken exactly my way.

Which I take as a sign that I made the right call. My new colleagues at Ball State University have reached out to me, offering advice and help as I make the transition to Muncie and a new department. My friends at Carnegie Mellon have given me several amazing opportunities. My friends at Miami University have offered great opportunities.

My family, as always, has been there for me every step of the way. My friends, old and new, have been resigned but happy.

Hell, I even found myself in Europe for a month working on two different books (legitimately). I stumbled across a ton of new material I never would have seen had I not taken this job.

The last two months have felt like the final pieces in the Brad 2.0 puzzle.

Quit drinking (ongoing check). Hit the meetings (ongoing check). Work on your head (ongoing check). Take it easy (check). Do the next right thing (check). Find a nice little quiet spot in the world where you live peacefully (check). Go to work with your friends (check).

It’s taken 37 years. And this is by no means an end to the journey. It’s a beginning, I hope. But it’s a beginning that I’ve chosen. One that I want to be on. To see what comes next. One that I suspect will have me pop up here and there, reminding people that you can change, that life goes on and that friends are there forever, even when they aren’t there physically every day.

To find out if the things that make me good at everything else are the things that can also make me good at my work.