I'm sitting at a coffee shop. It's not the typical hangout, as this one sits neatly on the west side of the Cumberland River -- a locale I rarely venture to for anything other than work and hockey. It is a hot Thursday evening with dozens of people pouring in and out. An older couple joked to one another that, despite looking at the menu, they would probably just order what they always do. The young boy is trying desperately, and perhaps a little too hard, to impress his date. Vanderbilt students lugging backpacks that are no doubt causing damage to their namesake try to decide if this is "their scene" or if they'd rather go somewhere not playing music. Another gentleman, much like myself, sits alone hammering away on his computer in a booth across the way. I mentally practice what I'd say if the wait staff were to come over an insist that I buy something else to keep using the Internet. It isn't likely to happen -- but I am rather thirsty.
The new job is everything I'd hoped for and a bit more. I'm staying very busy on a couple of larger projects. Somehow, I have also managed to answer the questions about whether I can still do web development after spending a few years with other things (running a department, handling client relations, and running a department again) taking up the majority of my time. I still have to keep a tab open to look things up, but that isn't likely to change. There is still that sudden jolt of excitement when I write something that works exactly as designed, and even a bit of fun in figuring out why something else didn't. A handful of lines of code might take an hour to debug, but I'm enjoying the hell out of it.
My brain is usually fried by the time I get home, but I'll open the laptop again to see what else I can check off on the requirements list. I think that's probably the one habit I need to curb a bit. Save a terrific time at the bowling alley last weekend, I haven't had a lot extracurricular socializing. Some nights I'm not even up for it. Then it hits me -- hockey season is still over. Crap.
So, I dust off the old line about needing a hobby. Which is apparently a universal truth among most 20-35 year-old males. Unless they have already found one that they have thrown more money and attention to than was probably healthy. That might be my biggest hesitation to just "go get a hobby" is that I don't want to drop a lot of cash and give up my (meager?) free time to really jump into. Samantha keeps suggesting left-brain activities as a hobby -- playing guitar, reading, learning to cook, etc. Not really excited about any of that. I'm still wanting to travel more (save two flights for business and a trip to Atlanta, my last out-of-state trip was in 2009). We got a bit derailed on the travel aspiration last month, and will probably have to shelve it until things get back on their feet. But I have a feeling that time is getting closer.
It is interesting that our American culture divides happiness into two distinct camps: work and personal/home. I have been elated before in both categories, and been pretty far down at other times. I have been fortunate to rarely have wild swings for either metric, just getting by at a point of stasis. Adventure on the work front has been easy to come by -- change jobs, instant new experiences. Adventure on the personal front is a bit more challenging. My nightly routine is so much a routine that I feel lost if it gets interrupted or changed. Hardly exciting, but perhaps comfortable. I still cannot help but feel like there is a ghost walking around behind me with a Flavor Flav style alarm clock, reminding me every so often that a) life is short and b) you should be acting like you already know this.
The coffee shop is still bustling. Same general crew. A guy is sitting out on the patio with an older gentleman who keeps rubbing his face and eyes as if distressed. Every so often, as if it were just a mimicking motion, the younger man does the same. The computer guy hasn't moved from his thoughtful posture as he stares through the bottom of his bifocals to make something slightly more clear. Everyone at this place seems confused or overwhelmed by the menu. I'm not -- I just want a pie and a Coke however the barista can make that happen.
See, sometimes I know what I want in life.