Sunday, December 02, 2007

Breaking The Silence: Part I

My small readership will notice my location has changed.

There are also other curious people who noticed as well.

This portion of a personal e-mail, sent to me September 21 by a former member of, is a summary of what people are asking:
Ok, Mr. Ron...

It appears an update is in order. I was out cruising the website, and lo and behold.... Rollingrj is no longer in MN! Who, What, Where, and When???
I will even include "Why" and answer all those questions.

It is long overdue.

Over the summer, there was a cosmic event in my life. In the grand scheme of the universe, it was barely a blip. In my infinitesimal corner of the universe, it was a major event.

By The Numbers

June 1 of this year started a new round of unemployment for me. In filing my claim, I had to supply wage information to the state agency which oversees unemployment insurance, something my former employer failed to do. After a month, I was approved. However, a bleak picture became even bleaker.

I was eligible for a benefit of $102 a week for twenty weeks. If there is a mathematician or economist who could have explained to me how to make that into a $540 a month rent payment and allow me to pay my other bills, I would have listened. Speaking of rent, did I mention my apartment lease was to expire on July 20?

These ingredients were added to the leftover in the stockpot from last I was seeking a job. The area was still not a place where I could not get an interview, much less a job. Even if I could, another figure was staring me in the face. As I was reviewing the starting wages for the full-time positions I had since 1996, they were all at $7.00/hr. That wasn't going to change either.

The handwriting was on the wall and I could clearly read it. A town which hosted a medium-sized university and could afford to pay for the inexpensive labor that lived basically next door to me (the campus was directly west of the apartment complex) was not the place for me anymore.

I had to leave.

I had no choice.

Horace Greeley Lives

The next question was where. Although I had family in the area, they were in no position to help me with living quarters, much less my (lack of) transportation issue, much less economically. Nor did I want to impose on them. But I did have an option.

Another person whom I met through and have an on-going relationship (in fact, I had gotten her interesting in 'blogging) has known of this trial in my life. In fact, I vacationed at her home for the first two weeks of June, wanting and needing the time away to take a step back and assess my situation. As the status quo remained status quo, an invitation she presented to me before my visit was now becoming the only viable solution to my problem.

On July 13, I accepted.

"Go West, young man."

The Long Good-Bye

I now had ten days to get my affairs in order, as I arranged with the property manager to stay until July 23. Most of my personal belongings were already packed, the results of an ill-advised attempt to change locale two year earlier. I was able to rent a 5' x 10' storage shed about a mile from the apartment and borrow a large cargo van from my former employer to help with moving. My best friend, a fellow soccer referee and referee instructor, helped me as much as he could in packing a few things in boxes, shifting most things to the shed, and shipping some things to my new address.

The sports officiating community was the group most needing a formal good-bye. Letters of resignation were sent to two different officials associations, one in which I was an officer. I also wrote to my volleyball partner and referee of the football crew I was involved, a tough thing to do since the season was to start in about five weeks.

A formal good-bye to my parish also included a letter to my pastor, who was enjoying a vacation during this time. My last Sunday Mass there was July 15, where a missionary priest was the celebrant. I do wish the "good-byes" could have been more personal, but time was short with me.

I did, however, have somewhat of a "farewell tour."

Kicking It

My last four days were when I did all of my moving and shipping. I did, however, manage to make my last "public" appearances, all involving soccer refereeing.

July 19 saw me working a youth game which had been re-scheduled due to weather issues, a game I was originally assigned. As I was walking toward the touch line I was to patrol, I briefly spoke to the home team captain, who was also a soccer referee. I made mention to him that this was my last game here. He was genuinely surprised, but he didn't know all the details.

The weekend took me to a city about 60 miles south of Mankato, where a qualifying tournament for advancement to the state tournament was being held. Here I was among people who knew me and what I had done for the soccer refereeing community in the area, humble as the contribution was. All the teams there did not have the sharpest of skill; they played because they wanted to play. The effort made for an enjoyable tournament.

That Sunday was also when I was able to say "good-bye" to my mother. We had made arrangements to meet after Mass that morning. We talked for about 45 minutes; I was caught up on the news of my immediate family. She was concerned (as all mothers would be, no matter how old their child) about my new living arrangement. I assured her this was the best thing I could do. A handful of money, a hug, and a kiss; then we went our separate ways.

After the last games of the tournament, I was able to finish packing and storing. After dropping off the keys at the office, I spent my last night at my best friend's home.

Road Warrior

I had purchased my bus ticket a week earlier. Now, on July 23, I was about to hit the highway. The bus was scheduled to leave at about 8:00 AM; it didn't leave until 8:45. I still feel fortunate I travel well; this was going to be a long trip.

Around 12:30 PM, we pulled into Sioux Falls, SD. It was our first change over; it was also a four-hour layover. We left the terminal at about 4:30 PM.

During this leg of the route, we had a short stop in Sioux City, IA, where I had lived before my move to Mankato. I hadn't seen the downtown area for about ten years; with memory being a sad privilege, I could tell how things had changed. It was another fond, if quiet, good-bye.

The bus pulled into the terminal in Omaha, NE at about 8:00 PM. What was supposed to be a one-hour transfer and layover took two. On the road by about 9:00, this movie occupied some time before I got comfortable enough to get some sleep.

When I awoke, I was just outside of Denver, CO where we pulled in at 6:00 AM on July 24 and transfered to a new bus at 7:00. Now came the longest part of the trip. The route took us north to Wyoming before it turned west. Going up and down the Continental Divide, seeing the ruggedness of this part of the Rocky Mountains made this a tedious and seemingly slow part of the trip.

It was. We were on the bus for 11-1/2 hours.

The Final Stop

Finally, at about 6:30 PM, the end of the line for me came: Salt Lake City, UT. I disembarked from the bus for the last time. A welcoming party of one was waiting for me.

Welcome to my new home.

Farmington, Utah.

Just east of the Great Salt Lake, just west of the Wasatch Mountains.

Fifteen minutes from the heart of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

As it was Pioneer Day when I arrived here, a local amusement park conducted a fireworks show that night in celebration.

It seemed a fitting way to end this chapter of my life.

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