In the early days of 1978, I was working at a start-up travel magazine in Seattle. It was my first full-time job and the beginning of my publishing career. I worked in as many departments as we had – editorial, circulation, administration – doing everything from writing short articles to assisting the publisher.

I was in my first post-graduate romantic relationship, and it was that rosy interlude between the time her parents stopped hating me and she started.

The only drawback to this time and place was my living situation, a shared house with roommates I don’t recall fondly.

On Thursday, February 2nd of that year, I returned from my lunch break to discover a phone message from my parents. My parents never called me. They were of the generation that deemed that long-distance calls should be both short and infrequent. My first thought was that my grandmother had passed away.

I should have been tipped off by the fact that they were calling from southern California, where my sister lived. I got out my AT&T credit card and called back to learn that it was not bad news but good: my sister had given birth to healthy twin girls, Jessica and Lindsey.

It seems like yesterday.

So much has changed in the intervening years. I have gone from my first full-time job to my last full-time job. I worked my way up in a variety of jobs from editorial assistant to associate editor to senior editor to executive editor to editor-in-chief at publications large and small. As frequently happens in an industry – and especially an industry where jobs are drying up faster than rain in Riyadh – people like me take our accumulated knowledge and become consultants. Or, as they’re known in publishing, freelancers.

That first romance faded, to be replaced by a frustrating array of fits and starts, punctuated by the fear that I would never get married, or never be happily married. Yet, here I am, just that way, in my last relationship.

That shared-housing situation was my last too; I moved into my own apartment not long afterwards. Today, we have our own home in the suburbs, probably the last one I’ll have before I get dragged back to the shared-living experience of a retirement home.

Last week, again around lunchtime, I was on the phone with a client when my cell phone started ringing. I silenced it and let it go to voice mail. Once again, it was a call I shouldn’t have missed. When I listened to the message later, my niece Lindsey informed me she had given birth to a healthy boy named Dominic.

In the flash of time it takes for a baby to have a baby, a life goes by.


About middleagecranky

The Middle-Age Cranky blog is written by baby boomer Howard Baldwin, who finds the world, while occasionally wondrous, increasingly aggravating.
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6 Responses to Bookends

  1. Danno says:

    Howard, I love the way you make it all so real, thank you.

  2. SR Newman says:

    Lovely… and profound.

  3. Cindy Costell says:

    …And Señor Cranky, maybe you remember baby sitting my little boy Stevie. You eventually gave him an entire set of your model cars when you felt you were too mature to deal with them anymore. We kept them for many years.
    Stevie went to Gunn and then to Lewis and Clark, after which he landed a radio personality job at KNRK, where he still is, interviewing bands as they pass through Portland and otherwise supplying the town with alternative music.
    And little Stevie (now known as Gustav) has a son, Torsten Gustav. Somehow,
    Torsten will be 7 years old in May.
    How is this all possible ? You still owe me Page 104, exercises B and C.

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