On the plus side:
No stress of the city.
Yeah, that doesn't count for much when you're completely isolated. Sure, phone calls are an option, but it's hard to talk privately in a little trailer with paper-thin walls. I needed a friend to talk with face to face.
The experiences I had in college and the city made me resent my family for being poor and relatively uneducated. I resented Gloversville for its lack of youth, culture, and energy. I resented anyone for being better off than I was. I hated myself for being a failure.
I vegetated for a month. I played with my dog, watched TV, and wallowed in self-loathing. Then mom started to kick my butt and told me to get a job. After weeks of filling out meaningless applications at grocery stores and restaurants, a printing plant (Amsterdam Printing & Lithography, “AP&L” for short) 20 minutes away had a mass hiring. They needed a production artist for their second shift. I was the only one who had a BFA from an “ivy-league” art school. I knew the programs better than anyone else that applied. They were looking for someone who was going to stick around for a while.
"Where do you see yourself five years from now?"
Still stinking of defeat and depression, convinced that I'd never be able to leave, I answered honestly. But in my mind, the answer was this:
"As far away from this place as fucking possible, if I can help it."
I got the job.
It took two weeks to figure out everything I needed to know about Illustrator. I didn’t have to worry about color or any special effects. My supervisor, Ellen (“such a sweetheart,” she’d say) was impressed beyond belief. I made the impossible possible. A month later, Francis came aboard.Francis is basically an older, wiser, happier version of me.
As we newbies slowly settled into our roles, our personalities began to show more. When our department boss revealed at the end of a stressful day that it was her wedding anniversary, Francis and I looked at each other and immediately sang the chorus to the Flintstones Happy Anniversary song. Heather laughed and looked at us in amazement, as if we'd rehearsed. We looked at each other again and giggled madly. It was the start of a bee-yoo-tiful friendship.
I found myself looking forward to going to work. (There's a first -and last- time for everything!)
Getting to work, though, was an extraordinary feat. I put an ad in the paper looking for a co-worker who was headed from Gloversville for a ride, with the offer to pay for gas & what not. This pair of older, obese, chain-smoking, country-music-listening, mulletted, dumbass women answered the ad. They were sisters.
They were also unreliable. One of their husbands convinced them not to pick me up because of possible insurance liabilities in case there was an accident. So without telling me, they stopped showing up. I had to confront them at work after taking a cab in.
A cab ride from Gloversville to Amsterdam costs $20, plus tip. My parents would come pick me up at night. On nights of horrible snow & ice, Roger, an older smartass in the department, would take me home in his virtual monster truck.
Cabbing to work lasted about six weeks (that added up to $750). Heather caught wind of this and immediately walked out of the room. She came back 20 minutes later and said, "follow me."
As we walked to another part of the plant, she asked me why I didn't come to her for help in the first place. It just didn't occur to me that anyone else would help. I explained about the futile ads in the paper. We strolled into another department, and I was introduced to my new ride, a woman named Lynn. We got along well enough. She talked a lot about her boyfriend; particularly that he's married and wasn't likely to get a divorce any time soon.
What made things interesting was that different departments' shifts started at different times. Even though we both worked second shift, she had to start a half hour earlier than I did. I would spend that half hour in the cafeteria writing, or observing those whom evolution had forgotten, and occasionally the rare cutie.
One of them was a tall drink of water, dark and slender. She wore long skirts and sweaters. From what I gathered, she had a bit of a creative streak.
The other was a shorter redhead who was friends with Lynn. We'd continually bump into each other in the halls and be all bashful and coy. She seemed very sweet.
Both of them smoked, so that was right out.
Sucksgiving came and went with as little fanfare as possible. The art department had a pool of petty cash that everyone would contribute to in order to have a little party every time someone's birthday rolled around. If you didn't contribute, you didn't get a party. I opted out of that little program. Heather asked what I was doing to celebrate my 22nd birthday.
"Really? Why not?"
"Eh, it's just another day." - A day I'd rather forget, a day spent alone, separated from everyone I called 'friend'.
Meanwhile, Chris, Carlos, and Bowie were hard at work on the comic project we were tentatively recruited for at the convention earlier in the year. Since I was the writer, I dug up a few books on mythology in general, paying particularly close attention to Norse. The comic was supposed to be about Thor's daughter, with no relation to Marvel's version of the characters, of course. In mid-December, I went down to the city to work on it some and see how the art was coming along. Our client slowly fell from the face of the earth, much to our chagrin. With no direction, no money, and no recourse, we decided to call the project our own. We haven't heard from the client since.
That small weekend dose of the city got under my skin. Every minute between projects at work was spent trying to figure out a plan. How was I going to get back there?
A few feet away, in his best Cartman voice, Francis berated his misbehaving computer, ordering it to suck his chocolate salty balls.