Rob Gould has never been a “half-in” kind of guy.
This has been quite a year for me. I’d taken to calling it the most difficult year of my life. Then my Mom reminded me of the year I had to go to rehab four times. That year was definitely more difficult, not to mention annoying. I mean, “finding your inner-child” is just kind of automatically annoying. Although, I did get to go to Acapulco that year on an awesome bender. That part was fun-ish. But, I digress …
Right through my thirties I was a huge fan of change. When I didn’t like something about my life–a job, a city, a friend, a pet, a shrink, furniture, my appearance, my ex-wife–I changed it.
Then, I moved to Maine in 2002. To anyone who knew me at the time, this was completely out-of-character. When my Mom moved to Maine in 1988 I actually got mad at her and said, “MUM, people don’t LIVE in Maine. It’s where you go on vacation if you’re boring.”
But, truth be told, I moved to Maine in an attempt to save my life. Very dramatic I know, but also very true. And, things don’t seem to change quite as much in Portland, minus the weather. So, I settled in and got comfortable. I made friends who are like my family and found a job that I loved. I’ve lived at the same address for eight years (a record). I even got a cat. And, I hate cats (now excepting George). Most important, the State never ended up kicking me out.
In 2011, I felt like I was overdue for some change. So, I left my job with The VIA Agency (an incredibly difficult decision) and struck out on my own. Almost simultaneously, my closest friends Josh and Jennie, decided to move to Hallowell. And, have two babies. Twins, to be exact.
This was all very cool for them and their multiple offspring. However, it was totally selfish in my opinion. I mean, what about me? It’s very difficult to compete for attention with two adorable little girls. The day the girls were born, Josh’s long-time cat, “Dude,” climbed way up into a very tall tree and wouldn’t come down. It was his protest. I could relate.
So, while Josh was all selfishly occupied with fatherhood, I made my move to replace him. Justin was dependably single, loved a good party and lived right upstairs. He was a resident at Maine Medical Center and felt like I “added a new dimension to his circle of doctor friends.” I thought this reasoning was slightly weird but I really didn’t mind being a “new dimension.” It was kind of like being in a boy band or something.
Most important, I’ve always liked Justin a lot. He’s smart, funny, kind and doesn’t mind when I lecture him on medicine. Which everyone knows is my forte. And, he didn’t have any babies.
Then Hana entered into the picture. Justin started taking these vague trips to Syracuse. Syracuse? Then he started talking about this “great girl” he’d been visiting. Justin never even dated anyone twice. I could already smell trouble but the whole Syracuse thing put my mind at ease. I mean, who lives there? What’s next, an au pair from Buffalo?
Then I met Hana. The first time we met I was sitting in front of my building at 8:00 a.m. having just rolled out of bed. I was smoking a clove cigarette and had Ben & Jerry’s from the night before smeared across my t-shirt. I also had a runny nose and a serious case of bed-head. I looked HOT. Just then, up walks this vision of loveliness straight out of Hot Girl-Next-Door Digest who gave me a big cheerful, “Hi, I’m Hana, you must be Rob!”
It was a sign of the apocalypse.
But, I quickly grew to love Hana. We watched “Mad Men” together while Justin tended to the unhealthy masses. They took care of George (and loved him) when I was away. She’d regularly include me in the fun things she and Justin did together. And, they weren’t even nauseating.
I could easily live with this.
Until this spring when they announced they were moving to Rumford. On purpose. I was aghast. Justin explained that if he worked in Rumford for four years his medical school loans would be paid. Justin is really cheap and I’m sure Dartmouth Medical School isn’t, so I understood the logic. I was heartbroken nonetheless. I really love them both a lot.
So, I said goodbye to Justin and Hana.
When I left VIA in 2011, I also left behind many great friends I made during my years with the agency. I still miss them all very much. Especially John Coleman, VIA’s founder & CEO. Now, John was my boss and we didn’t socialize much, but he regularly brought out the best in me. His enthusiasm is boundless and he always inspired me. I often refer to him as an idea explosion and he gave me the confidence and support to think and act in a similar way. Whenever push-came-to-shove he treated me like gold. I consider him a friend for life. And yet, John was just the tip of the iceberg at VIA. There were many more who made indelible impressions on me–too many to mention. It was an incredible group of people and I was inspired on a daily basis.
So, why did I leave? Change.
And, change can be really hard. The last year is evidence of this. I experienced very painful months I never expected. But, I’m stronger for them. And I don’t regret them. Any of them. This is a fact.
I’ve also experienced very positive moments and met some new friends I love. And, those people I mentioned above–Josh & Jennie, Justin & Hana, my VIAns–they’re all very close to my heart and I still see them regularly. I’m not easy to get rid of. It’s a PR guy thing.
During the many months in the past year when I felt like a huge black cloud was swallowing me and I had no ground under my feet, the sentiment of this quote always provided me with the strength to keep moving forward,
“This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all. Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture. Still treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice. Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
I’m still moving forward.
And, the future looks very bright.
So, change like you mean it. I mean it.