The longest 4 years

When I was in my 20’s and 30’s and life was somewhat uneventful, 4 years meant very little. Don’t get me wrong – 4 years still feels like a long time, it actually feels like forever when you’re younger, but still not too rich with major changes. At least it wasn’t for me. It was consistent, if anything.

I picked a 4-year mark because of the Olympics schedule. There is a certain beat to life on even years. Every 4 years – Summer Olympics, alternating 4 years – Winter Olympics. Same goes for World Cup and EuroCup. But it always  alternates with 2’s or 4’s. Essentially, the even years are milestone years.

The Rio 2016 Games just finished a couple of weeks ago. Great event … that I had a very limited opportunity to watch … but as with any international sporting events, good variety and certain class and quality of performance. As the Games were happening, I reflected on the 2012 Olympics in London and looked back at the 4 years that had passed.

So what happened in the last 4 years? A lifetime happened. More than anyone can wish for. And it was in such stark contrast with the previous 4 years or prior, that it makes me wonder – what’s in store for me by 2020?

While London 2012 Games were happening, my wife was 3 months pregnant with our son. We lived in Ohio, in a rental townhome, I was finishing up the business school (writing thesis at the time), had a fairly full head of dark hair (no grays, with only a slight loss at the very top), and was genuinely worried about the most stupid things. My wife just turned 30, was still a bit shallow and was equally ignorant of the upcoming change in her life.

Shortly after, i.e in a 6-month time, our son arrived. A little bundle of joy that first didn’t cry or make too much noise at all, slept most of the time and was a real angel. Mommy and daddy were tired but moderately, and still retained the ability to worry about some stupid things (although the list had gotten shorter). Well, that relative tranquility didn’t last long, and there started the crying, and night feedings, and ear infection and so on and so forth. As hard as it sounds though, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Soon after, I managed to graduate from business school (try writing a thesis when your wife is pregnant and then the kid actually arrives!). I was awarded a Master’s degree with Honors for all my hard work.

Just months before The London Olympics, I changed jobs after 4 years of doing exactly the same thing – same department, pretty much same boss, same general responsibilities. Same pay, too. Right around the time that our son arrived, and perhaps related to his arrival (considering my tired, zombified state, I wasn’t performing at my best), I was asked to start looking for something else, a sort of a soft layoff. I landed a new position with the same company very quickly and continued on.

Around that time, I realized that I can’t see the fine print on food and medication packages. And I had difficulty concentrating on the computer screen. So I went to see an optometrist who quickly quoted a bunch of meaningless numbers that really meant that I had lost some of my original, hawk-like eye sight. Damn, I thought, now that’s a huge change.

About a year later, we decided to leave Ohio behind. Many reasons for that … perhaps one of the main reasons being that being true to the Olympics 2’s and 4’s beat, we joyfully watched both Beijing and Vancouver Olympics while living in an Ohio rental (although a different one) and it looked like it was turning into a lifetime of uneventful stupor, with each day looking exactly like the one before. Even with the bundle of joy on our hands, the Midwestern slow motion kept me tranquilized, so we decided that it was enough.

I quickly (again) landed a new job with the same company in the Philadelphia area and my wife found a new job (also very quickly) with a different company in South Philly. We moved and first decided to rent, so we could look around, get used to things… and decide on the next thing. Well, the next thing was, we started looking for  a house and got pregnant. And very quickly again. By the time we signed on the house, my wife was 5 months into it. I expediently repaired and painted what I could and as soon as I was done, another bundle of joy arrived. By that time, I pretty much slept in my glasses and lost 2/3 of my crown hair. The rest of it now looks like someone mixed salt and pepper.

With the baby here and money safely invested in real estate, I thought, well, that’s enough being in the same company, bought the house, now have 2 kids, pretty much anchored myself to the area, so why not try looking for some new adventure, that is, a job.

I didn’t end up with a new job – my ex-manager left the company for medical reasons and I moved into his role. So I had essentially a new boss too… who changed to another boss within 2 months.

As I look back now, it was by far the most staggering 4 years of my life. Here’s a tally:

  • went from simply married to a father of two
  • went from rent to single home ownership
  • went from full sight to God knows what number up or down… but not 20/20, as it was oh not so long ago
  • went from full head of hair to a shiny patch – constant object of my wife’s mockery
  • went from Midwest to East Coast
  • changed a 4-year job to three other jobs

So what’s next?

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