Sacked by the "downturn", an unemployed architect touring the country in a bus...

I used to live in New York City. I designed homes for the tycoons of Wall Street; Park Avenue, Scarsdale, Greenwich. It was great fun. And, after years of saving up for a down payment, I was just about to buy my own little place in Fleetwood, half an hour north of the city, when the economy fell apart. Architects are like canaries in a coal mine when the economy slows, and true to form, there were massive layoffs in firms all over the country. Devastation of the profession. So, I decided to try to find something else to do for a while. I bought a 23' school bus and I'm on the road to see if I can figure out what that might be.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

30 miles to Reno

Pavement everywhere, again.  Malls.  Autozone, Lowes, and Walmart.  Ugh.

When I was in Mississippi, a friend said I was a runaway, I'd just waited a long time to do it.  At the time, I thought that that sounded right.  But now I think the opposite is true.  I was a runaway for the 30 years I spent in New York City, an angry runaway from an earlier life I loved, but where I had been hurt.

I hate it here, now, in Fernley, NV, 30 miles east of Reno, after having roamed freely these past months in remote areas, and in quirky towns with people inventing their lives.  Coming back into this more conventional realm feels like putting on a straight jacket.  I am looking forward to seeing my friends Sandy, John, and Mary Katherine, in Fairfax and Oakland, but I can't wait 'till I get a few hours further north of San Francisco, back out to where there isn't so much pavement.

I'm concerned that I don't have enough money left to pull off my plan to build a creative workshop, but I'm feeling more and more certain it's the right plan.  Some two and a half years ago, when I was first describing the idea for this travel adventure to my shrink at the time, he said "Not only do I think it's a good idea, I think it's important you do this."  (My eyes welled up writing this)  "You don't want to sit around in your 'shitrock box.'"  (Him, quoting the term that I used for my apartment when I was angry at "the system" in NY)  "This is a great country for driving around in..." (I remembered then my surprise when he once mentioned that he had spent years traveling in Nicaragua, which I'd never have guessed with the crew cut, buttoned down shirt and thin neck ties he wore when I knew him.)  He added successively, encouragingly, until he was sure I'd heard, "Don't worry about the money...  You have skills...  You'll think of something...", finishing with a light hearted pursed lipped smirk and a final affirmative nod.  He was always, always, on my side, and time and again I benefited greatly from my certainty of this.  And yet, I later realized that in my entire experience with his otherwise non-interventionist method, I believe this is the one time he'd ever endorsed a particular course of action for me.

I have a feeling he would like my current plan, too... will like; I'm thinking of calling him to say "Hi" and catch up on the last couple of years.

Here's the first floor of the "shitrock box", the modest Greenwich Village rented studio I converted into a duplex and in which I had built my short lived architecture studio.  It wasn't all that bad :-)


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