Posted by: Mark | April 12, 2009

Closed Doors, Opened Opportunities

My wife lost her job.

She worked for one of countless start-ups here in the Bay Area. Some start-ups have made it in such an inescapable way that they have become verbs in and of themselves: Google, Twitter, etc. Unfortunately, for every one success story, there are many more collapsed companies, especially in this economic climate.

Of course the initial sting of this was pretty tough. I mean, she lost her job. That doesn’t happen every day, it was entirely unplanned, and the announcement blindsided her and took effect immediately.

However, the loss soon turned into opportunity. I find it very fitting that this happened just before Easter weekend. Today’s Easter homily rejoiced in the resurrection, and all of the light that has come out of the darkness in this world. This job loss is no exception to that, and in fact could be a shining example of it. Thankfully, we are in a stable place financially. We have been in aggressive savings mode for the last few years in order to potentially buy a place, and then (thankfully, considering what happened) we didn’t buy a place.

I am a teacher. I get tons of time off. In fact, I’m on spring break right now. My wife, by noticeable contrast, has in the 5 years we’ve been together out of college had to suffer with two or three weeks a year of vacation time. We’re talking three whole months of waking up and having to get ready to work, all while knowing that her husband didn’t have to get out of bed till….whenever. #stoked for me, but quite understandably #fail for her.

So our new plan is to take this and turn it into a nice extended vacation for my wife. She deserves it. We obviously want to get her a job again, but I don’t think we’re in any rush. She doesn’t want to settle for something she doesn’t love. And I can happily say, she loved her old gig as senior marketing manager where she handled all the online initiatives for a skin care company.  So Step 1 is we’re going to enjoy the next week off as an unexpected week-long vacation for the two of us. We’ll be busy with projects and errands, but I’ll have the treat of being with her all week, when I was expecting to spend most of the week flying solo.

The true opportunity that has sprung out of this is how we’re going to spend the summer. Originally I didn’t have any major plans for the summer. I thought I’d be doing random odds and ends, maybe trying to make so money, but honestly I was expecting to float through the ether through most of the summer.

Instead, in our new and exciting Plan B, we’re going road-tripping. My sister is getting married on the East Coast at the end of June, and so rather than minimize the amount of vacation days that my wife would need to give up in order to make it to the wedding (as originally envisioned), we’re going to maximize them. We’re going to take two weeks to get there by car, spend a week there, and two weeks to get back. We’ll be bringing our dog, our tent and sleeping bag, and our sense of adventure.

Road-tripping is so profoundly ingrained into the American ethos that even though I’ve never really fantasized about driving cross country, I’m still really siked about this, almost by default. I can’t wait to go through the country in June and July and take in all that I can find. I have little to no clue about what I’m getting into, but I have some time to figure it out. I’ve found a great site called www.roadtripusa.com which I think is going to be a solid place to start my research.

roadtrip

So here’s the basic outline. Looking at the map below, we’re going to take a northern route, probably #8 (aka the OREGON TRAIL! Oh my God I hope I get to hunt for buffalo and that I don’t die of dysentery along the way) to get there. I’m hoping for a stop in Yellowstone, and then to hit-up Chicago, both because I’ve never been there and also because my wife used to live there, so we’ll have friends to stay with. We’ll then go off these recommended maps to get to Delaware. Returning it’ll be a bee-line to Nashville for some more solid time with my brother, and then up to St. Louis to get on Rte. 50 and head west via “The Loneliest Highway,” or #9 on the map. We’re considering a stop-off in Colorado somewhere, and maybe another one in the Arizona desert.

mapp

Of course, when I point out these locations, I know that we’ll be stopping in other places, but these are our keystone destinations. Of the many potential unplanned motels to hang out in, milkshakes to consume along the road, gas stations to fill up at, I do want to deliberately hit a couple of spots.

However, the rest of the trip is largely uncharted as of yet. And I’d love to solicit some help. Does anyone out there have any ideas on where to go? We have a lot of time for this trip, so we can go off the beaten-track if we want to and it’s worth it. I’m pretty set on these two major routes. And so all fair readers, once again I’m soliciting feedback for this post. (By the way, the comments I’ve gotten on the post “Life” has gotten the wheels turning for me to write a “Life Part 2” answer while I’m on break.) Where should we go? Any towns worth the stop? Any cool fairs in June or July that are worth going to?

Of course, I plan on quite thoroughly documenting this trip, through this blog, twitter, with pictures, videos, the sort. I mean I’m planning on updating this sucker every step of the way, every free WiFi spot I find is gonna get hit hard. So “thoroughly” is like a major understatement. I want to be share this trip with anyone who will take interest.

The current timeline is to set sail on my birthday, June 11. So keep your ears open, and feel free to send this blog around. I’d love to share my stories and also hear from anyone else who has done it before, to check in with readers, any of that good stuff. There will be plenty more about this trip to come in the future. In the meantime, let me know your suggestions and I’ll let you know how the planning goes.

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Responses

  1. Just like I told Giulia today… a year from now, you’re both going to look back at this and the focus will not be on the loss of a job… but rather, the opening door of adventure. The start of a great opportunity. THE BEGINNING of what’s next.

    And for that, I am so excited for both of you. I can’ t wait to live vicariously through both of you. Hurray for living life deeply and with purpose!

    M

  2. What a great attitude Mark. I’m sure your wife appreciates your positive outlook. Your road trip sounds fantastic. If you’re heading anywhere near LA around the 11th of June my husband and I and kids land there on that date! We’re going to be spending a few days there before heading to New York. That’s our road trip, but we’re going by plane!
    I strongly believe that fate takes us in unexpected directions for the better of us all; I’m sure your wife will find other employment and new directions. Good luck to both of you.

    Jenny Luca.

  3. I thought I would respond as I just wrote a post myself this weekend called ‘another doorway’. It sounds like lots of people are getting the opportunity to step through unexpected doorways at the moment!
    Your road trip sounds wonderful and I look forward to reading more about it. What a great approach to a tricky situation 🙂
    Kerry

  4. I agree with Melissa, this is such a fantastic opportunity and the way you’re going about it is so awesome – I can’t wait to follow your adventures this summer while I’m stuck at the office… hehe. I smell a fun themed going away party for the Lukach family!

  5. Hey man,
    I’ve driven from NY to Cali or vice-versa 11 times. I’ve been everywhere. Let me know if you have any questions. But it’s pretty much great no matter how you do it.

    You gonna be in NYC?

    Shachar


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