April 22, 2016

The Burden of a Perfect Life.

Leaf in fence, loss

We creative and techy types have it all.

We finished college on the East Coast or somewhere in Wisconsin, then chose a cool city where the fun equaled the work opportunities. Go west young man (or woman). Denver, San Francisco, Portland, Austin, San Diego. Climb the mountains, ride the waves, run the trails! Bike lanes, locally roasted, free trade espresso beans, good Thai food—it was all ours and we did it all with vigor.

Over time, we fell in love with a cute activist from a local non-profit that we met through a friend one night at an artisan cocktail bar. She battled the evildoers that dirtied our planet and damn it, we felt good. So good. Eventually, we got married, bought a house in a “transitioning neighborhood,” had a few kids and decided what toddler soccer program in which to enroll the kiddos—Lil’ Kickers, Goal Getters, Ball Bees.

Back in the office, agency, workspace, think tank, etc., we worked our way through the ranks—Copywriter, Senior Copywriter, Creative Director. Or maybe Account Manager, Strategic Planner, Director of Client Services—whatevs, it’s all good. We worked in an air-conditioned, remodeled, historic building behind our stand up desks because sitting all day was totally killing us, dude. Some days we connected to the LAN from home, on our patio, on our Apple MacBook Air with retina screen because, hey, telecommuting is the way people work today.

C’mon now, a few times we worked from the chairlift because, why not. That Email can wait one more run, there’s still untouched powder to be had—after all, it was Tuesday so the mountain was ours alone. We totally Instagrammed that.

Yes, things in this wired world are perfect. We have it so good.

Everyone’s happy—until things back east, or in Ohio, or in rural Kentucky, or wherever we’re from take a turn southward. No matter how much technology, good beer and organic produce stores we have in our awesome lives, when a parent, brother, sister or friend gets sick, we’re still too far away to help. Sure, we can hop on a plane in the morning and be there for a dying relative but what about the months and weeks before that when things seem, well, mostly OK.

We check in and hear, “Well, I’ve been feeling a little dizzy and tired but I think it’s going to turn around soon.” Shortly after that conversation, the person can’t drive, headaches are getting too severe, and someone else—a brother, sister, or parent who lives closer is burdened with caring for and checking on this person that means so much to us. We wonder, “Should we fly home now?” But any thoughts of that are squashed during the next FaceTime call. “No, no, no,” she said, “I’m fine. You stay there with those two cute kids of yours.” So, feeling a little better, we go back to work on a script about some awesome piece of accounting software for a client video.

Then it happens. We knew it was coming. It doesn’t even have to be death, it’s just that delicate point of no return. This person we love, cherish, and miss whole-heartedly won’t be around for much longer. That’s when we take the world’s longest, saddest flight back to where we came from. Award-winning restaurants, quaint coffee shops, art galleries, brew pubs and a killer job in the best part of the city can’t fix this.

It’s true. We have it all, we really do. But no job, client or neighborhood can mend a hole in the heart where someone we miss terribly once occupied. Take a vacation and see family and friends. All this other stuff will be in your cool city when you get back—or in the next, “America’s Hippest City.” I hear it’s Pittsburgh now.


Author: Jason Burg

Editor: Jean Weiss

Photo: hannaneh710/Flickr

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