Today I was listening to a CD on the way to work. A now-defunct hard rock / metal band from the 90's called the Galactic Cowboys. The CD was At The End Of The Day. One of my all-time favorite songs is on that CD, and I listened to it for the first time in a very long time. That song was like a knife in my heart.
The lyrics in the song that got to me were:
I cried a tear of grief in joy
For visions of a little boy
Whose arrogance made him believe
He could be anything he wanted to be
There are few things that I wouldn't give
To dream a young man's dream again
The confidence to set aside the things that I have settled for
We lived in Powder Springs, Georgia, a beautiful little town, from the summer of 1989 to the summer of 1992.
I was working at Delta Airlines at the time, and looking back, it was a wonderful time. We knew it was a special place while we were living there.
Powder Springs is just south of Marietta, and it takes only thirty minutes or so to drive to downtown Atlanta, and at the time the city was small enough to feel intimate.
This was the only place I've ever lived that had four distinct seasons. It was the first place I had ever lived that had lots of hard wood trees that turned outrageous colors in the fall. I just could not get enough of that. I LOVED my forty minute drive to work when the colors turned on the trees.
But I knew I couldn't lift heavy things for the rest of my life. And I saw the once mighty Eastern Air Lines die before my very eyes every day when I first moved there.
I realized, when the union members at Eastern went on strike, and the company was almost immediately back up and running with replacement workers, that some day Delta could do the very same thing to us if times got economically hard. I mentioned this to some of my coworkers at Delta, but most shrugged it off. I was scared though, when Eastern finally died.
At that particular time, Delta was doing great financially. The company was wonderful to work for, the people were great, and the job was fun for the most part. The pay kinda stunk, but I went into the job with my eyes open, so no complaints there.
I was worried enough to always be on the lookout for other jobs within Delta that I might qualify for and move into that would let me work but for them, but not beat my body up so bad. The intra-company job list that came out every couple of weeks mainly needed people with skills. Aircraft mechanics. Electronics people.
So I started looking into schools in the area. The only school that taught aircraft mechanics was south of Atlanta, and way away from where we lived. That just didn't seem like the right thing for me anyway.
We've always gone to the local public libraries almost first thing, wherever we have moved, and got a library card. Right after getting our driver's licences. I started checking out various books and ended up getting hooked on learning electronics from books, on my own.
After looking at more schools I finally applied to and was accepted to Southern College of Technology in Marietta. It has since become a university and is now named Southern Polytechnic University. It's still called Southern Tech for short.
My goal was to learn electronics to get a better job within Delta. I ended up learning that there were so many other jobs in the world for those with electronics degrees and training that I finally realized that Delta was probably the least appealing of my options; because of that pesky itch in my mind about the fragility of the air line industry.
I did really well my first complete school year at Southern Tech, while working full time at Delta. After two quarters, my parents and Lovely Wife's parents said that since I was serious about it, if I was willing to move back to Louisiana and finish school there, they would help us out financially and with our daughters.
In early 1992 I applied to transfer to Louisiana Tech's electrical engineering program and jumped through all the hoops necessary to start school there in the fall of 1992.
We moved back to Monroe, Louisiana and I finished my engineering degree in 1996. We've lived in Palm Bay, Florida ever since.
But those three years in Powder Springs, when the girls were still little, seem like a magical time when I look back. We knew that place was special, and that our time there had been special.
When we had packed everything to move, and loaded the moving van and cleaned the house and were ready to go, Lovely Wife and I took one last slow walk around the house and through the yard. We talked about the good times there. We both teared up and had to fight from crying.
The only thing that got us out of there was that we were convinced that my degree would open better doors for us in the future. At the time, many of my coworkers at Delta thought I was insane to leave such a strong company and such a cool job. One guy told me I had a lot of guts to quit Delta.
It was sad to stand there and look at that pretty little house and the tree filled yard, but our hope for a better future had led us back to Louisiana. For a while at least.
Now, Delta Airlines is on the verge of folding, or being eaten by a bigger, stronger air line. Unless a miracle happens, Delta won't be around as a separate company very much longer. They used to win all kinds of awards for service, but in the last few years I've read so many horror stories about abysmal service on their flights.
It breaks my heart to see it.
We will always treasure our time there when the girls were little and a walk in the woods or going to a beautiful park with great playground equipment and ponds and ducks to feed was all it took to make great memories. Going downtown and riding the Pink Pig on top of the old Rich's department store roof at Christmas time. Stone Mountain. So much to do with just a little money.
My point is this. I've lost that fire in my belly to set goals and to do and to achieve. I'm not exactly sure how to get it back.
We have been back to the area a couple of times to visit old haunts and to see old friends. Our last time to do this was in the summer of 2002. The photos I've sprinkled into this post are a few from that trip. Give 'em a click for larger versions.
The first three pics are of quaint downtown Powder Springs.
The fourth photo is a hundred year old covered bridge in Marietta.
The fifth photo is of The Varsity, a legendary fast food place in downtown Atlanta.
This final photo is of the Tech Tower at Georgia Tech in downtown Atlanta. My original dream was to get two years in at Southern Tech in Marietta, and transfer to Georgia Tech. I still have a piece of my heart that jumps every time I see a Georgia Tech sticker on a car, or see it on TV. On that trip in 2002, I went and walked around the campus for a while, even though I never went to school there. Such was/is the strength of my desire to have gone there.