Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Tale of Two....Perspective at 6111 N. River Rd.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us...
~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Our innaugural summer
Irish Fest at IAHC - 1997

I returned to the place where it all began.  The place where Boomer became my man; I became his SMO.   This denoted phase 3 location in my private road show of mourning is feeling a lot like a Dickens novel...

Arriving at the office complex of 6111 N. River Rd. in Rosemont, IL, I felt some ambivalence on this destination of my grieving tour - - I wasn't entirely sure I really needed to be there.  I was compelled to come, yet very uncertain as to exactly why.

Comdisco, Inc., an IT services company, where Boomer and I met (read prior posts:  Getting Caught, Smooch, Illegal, and Coming Out), went bankrupt over a decade ago and is long since defunct.  The building, once entirely occupied by our employer, is now MB Bank, in full or in part - - I have no idea, nor do I care.

I voluntarily departed Comdisco in 2001, after 12 years, amidst the carnage of layoffs occurring during its spiral into corporate oblivion.  Some thought I was nuts for not waiting for my "package."  There was no assurance of a package to be had, and personally, I didn't want to deal with the emotional trauma of being let go.  Save my sanity over a maybe payout - - my emotional stability was more important.  Plus, I was seeing what being laid-off was doing to others - - like my beloved.

Boomer had been "down-sized" the year before after, I think, almost 15 years with the company.    In it's heyday, Comdisco was known for employee loyalty, longevity, as well as both career and business success.  Things were very different at the time of our respective departures;  which is, in-part, how this chapter of our lives plays like A Tale of Two Cities - - I left voluntarily;  Boomer was asked to go.

I strolled the promenade of the main level, reminiscing of my own personal years there:  the florist where I'd buy birthday flowers for colleagues, the cafe where I'd sometimes get lunch w/co-workers, the gym where, for 10 years, I taught lunch-time group fitness classes, the space where the dry cleaners use to be where I'd get my "press only" laundering done (something Boomer always found funny).  There was Carlucci restaurant and the adjacent Marriott hotel, where the lounge/bar of both were popular after-work hang outs, the courtyard walkways and fountains where afternoon walk breaks were frequent in peak-season.

Then there was reflection on my overall experience there.  Frankly, Boomer was the best thing that happened for me at Comdisco.  I was lost while I was there.  I had no sense of self, confidence or esteem.  I chased a constant carrot of trying to find my way, personally and professionally;  desperate to be a part of the in-crowd - - one of the cool kids, the movers and shakers.   Sounds like high school doesn't it?  A whack-a-do case of arrested development.  Which seems natural, given I was 25 when I started there.   I was sad and it was exhausting.  The later years of my tenor at Comdisco, I started scrubbing myself of all that sabotaging internal-dialog nonsense and began coming into my own. That's when I started to connect with Boomer.   By the time I resigned, I was ready to leave; ready to move on - - I thought more of myself than to sit around waiting; waiting for my ultimate doom.  It all came flowing back, all these things I hadn't given much thought to since I left 12 years ago; because when I left, I was complete with this chapter in my life.  

So why am I here now?  I sat outside in the courtyard, a cold, overcast morning, glad that I chose to be there at off-hours for the solitude, yet still indifferent to why I was really there.  I wasn't at all having the emotional experience of the last two places I visited (read Band-Aid and Migration).  While this place is a milestone,  in that it is where Boomer and I met and our relationship blossomed, we were only here together, as a couple, just 3 years -- a mere one-fifth of our entire life together.  A small fraction of our history.  Still I sat, deliberating.  Then the picture started to come into focus  - - I'm not there for me; I'm there for Boomer...

Boomer's sentiment, or perhaps attachment, to this place ran deeper than mine.  He'd talk about the company, the "good old days", he'd also grumble about it just as much - - most often with a friend.  There was an odd attachment Boomer had to this part of his past.  Something I didn't understand, was sometimes unsympathetic to and bothered by.  During the years, from time to time, I'd get annoyed when conversations would drift into all things Comdisco.  I'd be saying to myself, "Time to move on Boomer.  Let it go already."  Sometimes even saying it to him, in an effort to try to understand.  One absolute, we mutually enjoyed reminiscing about our shared history back then, but then he'd go beyond it- - fairly often.  It was this mixed bag of sentimentality, bitterness and contempt.   That is in no way a healthy cocktail (you betcha, that pun is very intended), and a key reason it bothered me so much.   He just couldn't or wouldn't get passed it.  He wasn't alone either.  Boomer has a friend and former colleague, who you could set an egg timer to on when he'll bring up Comdisco in any conversation - - guaranteed.  

I started to see the light when I went into recovery (read Russell Brand), and began learning more about the disease of alcoholism (read Reality).   Boomer was lost in his grief.  Grief in the loss of his job at Comdisco.  While I sat in the courtyard, I was understanding more, yet again, what we had in common - - grief. 

My guy, in his eyes, was the Alpha and the Omega.  His professional success and his ability to provide for his family - - to him - - defined who he saw himself to be as a man.   Boomer's years at Comdisco where the highpoint of his career.  His income was at its peak, affording him the opportunity to abundantly provide for his family.  He was proud.  It made him happy.  In Boomer's mind, it slipped away and he couldn't seem to get it back - - back the way it was, the way it use to be.  What's equally sad, I know there are others out there, struggling the same way.  

Ah, yes, therein lies another wound  of loss (read Mother), contributing to the eroded spirit of this beautiful, amazing, kind man - - his perceived loss of success, professionally and as a man.  I was sitting directly in Boomer's grief.   That's why I was there - - to grieve - - empathetically.   Over him.  For him.  With him.   I came here to grieve for us both and create peace with it all.   So I sat there and cried, a double dose -- for Boomer and for me.   I journaled everything.  At 7:45 a.m., after an hour and a half at 6111 N. River Rd., the temperature dipped, the already grey cloudy sky grew a shade darker, as I heard, "That's it SMO.  We're done here.  Wrap it up."   Then it started to rain.

I nestled a dusting of Boomer into a bed of hosta plants in the courtyard - - signifying the epoch of misguided identity and the epoch of Comdisco for Boomer, for me, for us, was finally laid to rest - - in complete peace.

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