An education

I’ve lived in the frozen, overdeveloped retail/franchise mecca that is Fargo for just over two and a half years. My original intentions for coming here were to regroup after a failed attempt at life on the west coast (California, or at least southern California, is basically a wasteland) and to begin to make my stand after years of dead-end jobs and dissatisfaction with my life as it stood at that point. I was not quite 28.

Today, I am 30, and after two and a half years of trying to find a way out, I am 32 days from finally leaving. I’m moving to Chicago, to be closer to my family, old friends, and a familiar environment. I’ll be living with my girlfriend, who is a year away from becoming an attorney, and she’ll be a good one. I’m honestly weary of arguing with her sometimes because she’s so damn good at it.  She’s enabled me to leave this town I never really liked, and has also pushed me to find the best parts of me. Some of these parts, I left behind a long time ago, for reasons I either don’t know or would rather not discuss.

The hardest part right now is the waiting game. I work another one of those dead-end jobs I promised myself I’d never have again. This job, however much it sucks, allows me to transfer to another location. It comes in handy, especially because I know that finding a job in a city far away is very difficult.

I work retail.  Most of the time, it’s frustrating, demeaning, and irritating, because I know I’m capable of much more than ten bucks an hour, and certainly when all I do all day long is take complaints and deal with other people’s problems. Anyway, I submitted a transfer request to one of the largest, busiest stores in the country, and I’m waiting for confirmation from the manager that he is, in fact, going to transfer me. His assistant has told me that they will most likely take me, but that doesn’t make the situation any easier because with a month to go before I leave, I don’t know if I have to find something else. And as much as I dislike what I do, I’d rather not have to go into panic mode just to find a new job.

A customer once told me that I sounded like an educated person. He asked me if I had a degree and I told him, proudly, that I have a Bachelor’s Degree from Siena Heights University (Saints Pride!) in English, with minors in History and Psychology. And then he asked me if I considered myself an educated man. My response was something like “My education was a great experience.”  That’s when he stopped me and said (and I’ll never forget this), “An educated person is a person with the tools, self-awareness, and drive to change the world around them.”  I never saw him again, but his words have never left me.

I remain (cautiously) optimistic about my choice to leave this city, though the progression of my transition has been difficult at times. I’ll know tomorrow whether I have a job awaiting me in Chicago or not. But through the past two and a half years, I’ve learned one thing:

I am an educated man. I just need to get my confidence back.


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