It dawned on me as I read through a couple blogs and articles here and there that we've entered a new decade. Well, at least it's a new decade if you don't buy into the year 0 thing...but let's assume it's a new decade unlike the fanatics who swear by year 0 and think 1/1/11 is the real start of the next decade.
So what have I/we learned this decade? Where am I now 10 years after everyone was freaking out about a stupid Y2K bug? We're gonna do this in several parts. Part 1 will be a time-line from then until now, part 2 the highs/lows of the decade that was and Part 3 the "what I learned" portion.
Midnight January 1, 2000
I was home alone this night ringing in the new year in my apartment in Lawrence, alone. Don't feel sad for me; it's how I wanted it. I remember having a bottle of champagne all to myself and was watching whatever TV coverage looked most interesting; NBC for the poignant, very real look at what was to come as we start a new millennium, MTV for the hot chicks making out in the TRL studio overlooking Times Square. What? You want the truth, you got it...
I didn't think too much of the new millennium at the time; it was just another year. I was graduating from KU in the spring, I'd lined up a job working at a dot-bomb in KC and I was single with a whole world out there just begging me to leave the sheltered confines of college.
I moved into an apartment in Lawrence with one of my best friends Ben. I'd begun working at eScout and although the drive to KC was a bitch, it was at least a straight shot on I-70 to the office in downtown KC. This was a great living situation. Ben and I decided we needed a table but that an air hockey table was a far more practical use of the space in our dining area so we did it. I wish we'd had more time to live together as I'm confident that we would have needed another table and could have rationalized getting a foosball table instead.
eScout moves to Lee's Summit, MO which adds I think 30-miles R/T to my already long commute; thanks, assholes. Whilst at eScout, I passed out in the bathroom and cracked my skull on the concrete floor of the bathroom. Literally. This was the accident that left me senseless. Literally. The fall had severed my olfactory nerve, leaving me without my sense of smell and although I've gained a small portion of it back, I'm still unable to smell anything of note; let's give it a # of say, 95% inability to smell. In retrospect, I wish I'd sued eScout. 2 doctors told me that the fall was due to stress and I was working my ass off at a dot-com startup for a maniac...my being laid off less than 6 months later would have had ambulance chasing lawyers foaming at the mouth and in-house council sounding the damage control bell. Missed opportunities...
A budding friendship developed with someone I can point to as the source of a great deal of people I call friends these days, one Rishi Parekh. I think of my post-college days in KC, this is/was the reason I stuck around and was supposed to be there; we were meant to meet one another, in some strange way. We had tons of fun, listened to jazz, drank scotch and wine and established a lifelong relationship with one another that continues on today.
eScout laid me off. Thanks, assholes. I'd just moved to KC by myself and at the time the 2 weeks severance pay seemed awesome, especially when coupled with unemployment pay from Missouri. The cost of living was such that I could afford to watch TV and mess around all day and look for jobs in the evening and have money leftover to get wasted at night, every night. My neighbor Brian Brown provided many a night of fun and craziness as we stumbled home from the bar that backed up to our building. Good guy, would love to reconnect with him...
No jobs in KC; giving up hope. It's at this time that my partner Raymond called me and pitched the idea of starting a mortgage company together here in SoCal where he lived. What did I have to lose?
9/11 happened and I remember being woken up by Raymond telling me to turn on the TV. It was pretty surreal and the days that followed were filled with a lot of hate, fear and uncertainty. A month later, Raymond and I packed up the car, sold everything that wouldn't fit, I said my goodbye's to KC and before the gravity of the situation hit me I was halfway to Southern California.
We had started Arcadia Capital, LLC and were struggling to find business. It was very slow going and it wasn't until Spring 2002 that we actually closed a deal. Southern California was incredibly foreign to a Kansas boy and I was feeling homesick as I called friends back in KS looking for something to keep me going as the fast pace, abundant a-hole residents of SoCal, pollution and all the other fun stuff around here was anything but inviting, or at least, too great to be offset by the great weather (as so many people here continue to lean on as THE reason people want to be here).
I began surfing shortly after I got here, which I honestly think was what kept me around. Had I not begun surfing there's an excellent chance I would have ended up back in KC or Seattle.
Spring 2002 - Fall 2006
Arcadia was moving along, though Raymond had left me by myself as he and his wife left for Washington state to live in the sticks and start a family. I was pissed. Here I'd uprooted my entire life to move to SoCal, knowing nobody here other than Raymond and he leaves me less than a year after I get here. This still sort of hurts and I believe the failure of Arcadia (more on that in a bit) is due solely to his leaving. I'm happy he is where he is but I think that the impact of the situation has never been fully appreciated by all involved which leaves some feelings of resentment when things are rough, as they have been several times since.
I'd moved into an apartment in Brentwood, which I loved for it's location and size, and had begun dating a girl named Nicole. She was young, a wild soul that was very different from me but I liked it. It was almost as if I started dating her because I normally wouldn't date someone like her. She was this hot California blond, outgoing and naive to a lot of things in life and I just enjoyed being with her. It was easy and I didn't have to work hard at the relationship, which ultimately destroyed our relationship.
In November 2004 I moved to Huntington as I was sick of LA and it was closer to Nicole who lived in Belmont Shore. My apartment was awesome. 2 blocks from the beach, newly renovated, an outdoor shower to rinse off after a surf, right in the middle of downtown; it was awesome. HB was this magical land or surf, sun and isolation and I loved every second of it.
After almost 4 years dating I ended it with Nicole. We were too different and I didn't put forth any effort as subconsciously I knew I wasn't really seeing any future with her. It was tough but it had to happen.
Indonesia! I went on a surf trip as a way to sort of clear my mind and soul just a month or 2 after ending the relationship and had a blast. It was Bryan-time and I was thousands of miles and dozens of hours by plane from life back home. I want to go back and will someday, though Indo seems really far from where I am right now both physically and metaphorically.
Now it gets interesting. I met this girl named Katie who lived at the other end of the building, one thing led to another and now we live together with a dog and a lot of good times. I also met some other friends that are big parts of my life now; this was a really happy time in my life. There was probably 6 months of pure perfection. I have Katie, some really fun friends, I'm making great money pimping loans; life was just easy, fun and prosperous and I would give anything for that feeling again.
Katie and I move in together and get Brisbane the wonder-pup. The house was a disaster from a legal/rental standpoint as the landlord wasn't paying the mortgage and pocketing every penny of rent (money orders only) and was all but a ghost as the property manager couldn't even verfiy that he existed.
This began the beginning of the end of Arcadia Capital. The once profitable and successful venture was struggling and I saw enough in the real estate market to know when to get the hell out, and I did. I began looking into other businesses and ultimately decided to become a trader, which I am doing full-time now.
Eviction notices posted on the door of Hartford verified what we already suspected: the landlord was a crook. After hunting down the doofus of the operation (the property manager) and getting our deposit back, we moved out and found another place in HB.
Fall 2009 - present
Life as usual. I struggle to learn the art of trading and watch life savings dwindle to nothing as I try to stay afloat paying for rent, debt, you name it. I'm not trading all that much and view the time as a sort of "going back to school" but instead of coming out with my masters or a nursing degree I hope to emerge with knowledge that can open any and all doors when used properly. It's rough. For the first time in my adult life I'm not making any money, and that means no unemployment either. But I view it as a necessary step in my progression forward and realize that without the rainy days you can't appreciate the sunny days quite as much.
Midnight January 1, 2010
Katie and I complete a 1000 piece puzzle in less than 4 hours with a couple Jersey Shore breaks thrown in for good measure. I spent the last day of the decade with the woman I love and the puppy that we love and welcome in a new decade and surely a new chapter of our lives together.
It's a fitting way to end the decade don't you think? I start the decade by myself and after 10 years, countless friends and acquaintances, a move cross country and starting from scratch at least twice I end it with just 1 more person. I guess what counts, though, is the quality of that company. Who needs raging parties with teary-eyed drunks and horny guys looking for the first BJ of the year from a stranger when you can be with the ones you love and quietly celebrate the passing of another year and ring in the new year in peace?
Part 2 coming up later this week...