Summer 2001: The Inciting Incident

It's June in a very dry year. With a diploma in my pocket, the first summer of my adult life began. This is an homage to Tim Dufrisne and Carolyn Van Lydegraf.  It's a tribute to those warm days and late nights, to my first emotional growth spurt and the last time I loosened my tie, let my hair down, and had fun. The seamless confluence creativity, playfulness, love, and joy. Here's to you, summer 2001.

I'm working as a lead cashier at a pet store in Reno, Nevada. My boss calls me into his office. With a snide grin of self-satisfaction, he says, "Nick, we're going to have to issue you a written counseling notice." A couple things are important about this situation.  First, in my twelve year work experience, I've never been written up for anything before or since.  My father bred a work ethic into me.  Its deep inside me and I have very little to do with it.  I hate disappointing people. Consequently, I refuse to do even the most menial tasks poorly. I am a retail titan.  If there's company protocol that's spelled out in an operations manual, it's gospel to me. Second, I have just applied for my first apartment, a small one bedroom in the old southwest part of Reno. Third, I'm broke, living paycheck to paycheck. Fourth, My boss, Mike, dislikes me.  He is fairly certain I'm gay, doesn't care for the fact that I play in a rock 'n roll band, and hates how much I say "hella."

He hands me the notice. Grinning, he says, "You can make any comments you like at the bottom." I know he's fucking with me. He's trying to get under my skin and it's working.  In the comments section, I wrote, "This is my two week notice." and signed my name.

It turns out that apartment hunting is markedly more difficult when you leave the current employer space blank. Nevertheless, a naive optimism perseveres. Tim and I settle on a 1 bedroom, furnished apartment at the Casson Apartments, a retirement community --unbeknownst to us-- in the old southwest part of Reno.  Our house hunt had one criterion: proximity to downtown. It was the heartbeat of the city and we wanted to be near it. The decision was rash and impetuous. It really didn't matter what the apartment looked like, if it were within walking distance of downtown, it was destined to be perfect.

We turned in our application and crossed our fingers. Our journey together had begun. To write, to find love, and to flourish.  We had chosen our headquarters: Nim Manor. It was our tiny kingdom and without it, we wouldn't be the men we are today.

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