Today I started my last four day trip at Horizon, although it actually ended up getting split into a day trip followed by a three day. Tomorrow I'll check in for the last time, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. I'm not as excited as I think I should be. I know this was the right thing to do, but my heart's just not really in it right now.
The basic problem, I think, is that I really like working for Horizon. It's a good company, and a quality airline that I'm proud to say I work for. I enjoy my coworkers and the overall culture; it's a place I fit in very well. For all of it's faults, I'm pretty fond of the Q400. The variety of flying keeps me interested, and I never get tired of the beautiful scenery around the Pacific Northwest. I feel privileged when I go to work. That's not easy to give up.
You know how when you travel to a place for the first time, it's usually different from how you thought it'd be? Sure, you may have read about it in books and seen it in movies and thumbed through friends' vacation photos, but the image you build of the place in your mind is only slightly informed by these factual scraps; your imagination supplies the myriad details, creating a world as fictional as Narnia or Middle Earth. Then you visit and the actual sights and sounds and smells quickly displace the imagined details until you can't even remember what your preconceived image of the place was like. The fictional place suddenly becomes real, as though it sprang into existence when you arrived.
This is the way I feel about NewCo. As of yet, it's basically a nonentity that exists only in my imagination. It's hard to get excited about something that doesn't exist. Horizon, on the other hand, is real to me and I can't help but be sad that as soon as I leave it will cease to be part of my reality, living on as a relic of memory with the occasional radio call or Q400 sighting as a reminder that I didn't imagine that world or my former place in it.
I feel the same way about Portland, actually. I suspect much of my ambivalence about leaving Horizon is closely tied to leaving the Pacific Northwest. Of course, in this case I'm not leaving a known for the unknown but a known for the even better known place that I grew up. It must seem that I hate Minneapolis, but I really don't. Winter weather notwithstanding, there are many attractive things about it. In some ways it's like Portland: a modern, forward-looking city that's not huge or overbearing, that offers a high quality of life, places a high premium on parks and green space, and invites it's citizens to get outside and play. Minnesota as a whole is a beautiful, varied state that's a great place to raise a family. I have nothing against Minnesota or Minneapolis.
I think it's more so that I just don't see myself as a Minnesotan anymore. It's not home. The Pacific Northwest, and Portland in particular, has become home in a way SoCal never was when I lived there. You could say I've made it part of my identity. In ages past, where you were from was a key element of one's identity, but in today's increasingly mobile and rootless society, where you've chosen to make your home says more about who you are and how you want others to see you. Identity itself has become an increasingly fluid concept; reinvention of self has become the norm. Pick your career, pick your spouse, pick your hometown, pick your hobbies; if you don't like your life, change one or all.
So I guess the problem here is I don't especially want to reinvent myself. I kinda like being me, thank you very much. I'm comfortable being the Midwest boy who escaped to the west coast and has enthusiastically taken up hiking, backpacking, skiing, drinking microbrews, and hanging out with friends at the coffee shop on rainy days. For that matter I like being the pilot who enjoys flying a unique turboprop instead of another McRJ, gets a kick out of going to little airports in the mountains in bad weather, and is proud of flying for a decent regional with a good contract instead of undercutting the profession like everyone else. Ooof, I sure fell hard off of that particular high horse, didn't I? The basic problem here, if I'm being honest, is that I need to get over myself and swallow my pride. Nobody's all that into me and nobody's gonna care if I go back to being the Minnesotan guy flying an RJ.
On the other hand, maybe I'm just getting old and set in my ways, content to let life's inertia carry me along. The funny thing is that I generally crave change; the "imagined place becomes real" aspect of travel I mentioned earlier is a major reason I enjoy traveling. Why shouldn't it apply to life? Maybe I'm just looking at this all wrong; maybe I should start seeing it as the Next Big Adventure. Horizon and the Pacific Northwest? Been there, done that, have the microfleece vest! After all, I didn't realistically expect to stay here my whole life; I might as well keep my adventurous and adaptable side alive before I get too comfortable here.
Wow, this is an insanely self-absorbed post (in the tradition of bloggers everywhere, might I add). Several of you will no doubt point out that it was my choice to leave and if I'm bummed about it now, well boo-friggin'-hoo. I know, I know. I know it was the right choice, I'm just trying to come to grips with how I feel about it. I do think writing this post helped me shift my attitude, though. One more trip, then NewCo here I come! Can't wait to get my hands on that JungleBus! And ooh, the snow stays wonderfully dry for skiing at 30 degrees below zero!