Tomorrow is the first day at my new job which means this “summer of me” is drawing to a close. I can honestly say I have enjoyed every single minute of these four months. You can go back through the archives of this blog and read what transpired but Friday, April 26, 2013 was a very significant day. That was the day after the studio closed and I woke up unemployed again. On that particular day, when my eyes blinked open around noon, I wasn’t 100% sure that I’d be taking the summer off. I find that there’s a certain inertia to things, it’s perhaps human nature. If you’re doing something, sometimes you just want to keep on doing it, just out of habit and for no other reason. As I crawled out of bed, part of me wanted to see if I could join another EA team in Burnaby or another studio elsewhere. Three things happened later that day that gave me a strong argument for just taking the summer off.
The first piece of business that I got around to was getting tickets to a matinee for Oblivion which had come out just a few weeks earlier. I love going to matinees because the tickets are cheaper and the theatre is usually devoid of people. It’s a great time to just watch your movie in peace. When the movie ended, I realized the summer movie season had just started. I could do this all summer with all the big movies I was looking forward to seeing. I know this sounds like a pretty odd reason to not work for a few months but sometimes it’s the most simple and trivial things that push you in one direction or another.
The second thing was undeniably the most important. As I was heading back up to my apartment, I saw a new e-mail from one of the PopCap HR representatives. They had reviewed my severance package and decided I was owed more money and an extension to my benefits. I was floored. The original amount was already very, very generous but the additional money they added made my decision almost automatic. It’s a very unfortunate truth in the world we live in but money does give you freedom to do things, which you wouldn’t have had the chance otherwise. The money gave me the freedom to choose.
The last thing was just a simple realization that wrapped everything up for me. I’m not sure what I did that Friday night, I might have stayed home or I might have gone out. What I do know is that before I went to bed, I thought this was the start of the weekend. It occurred to me that if I really wanted it to be, every day for the next four months could be a weekend. There would no more Mondays or having to look forward to Fridays. I could sleep in every day if I wanted to. More importantly, I could stay up late as late as I wanted to, every day. Each day of the summer could be as big or as small of an adventure as I wanted it to be. I also thought of it this way, EA was going to pay me every day to do whatever I wanted for the entire summer. How many people get paid to enjoy the four sunny months of summer? In fact, it had already started. I was essentially paid that first day to wake up late and go to the movies. So when I finally fell asleep on that glorious first day, my mind was convinced the “summer of me” was the way to go.
The four months went quick. I’ll throw in a couple of clichés here. I remember that first day like it was yesterday. It was cloudy and grey. When I walked out of the theatre, it looked like it was going to rain. Time does fly when you’re having fun. The sixteen weeks went by like it was a week. I remember we got to the end of May and I was surprised that it had already been a month.
My last thought on the “summer of me” is how different it was from all the times I had time off in between jobs. Tomorrow will be the start of my fifth job in just four years so I’ve seen a bit of downtime. I had two months off in late 2010, three months off in early 2011, and four months off in late 2011. Each time I went back to work in those occasions, I never looked back at my time off as wistfully as I do now. Some of you might think it’s because I was hurting for money and was just happy to making a salary again. That’s not true as I received a hefty severance in one case and I had substantial savings in the other two.
This time was remarkably different for two reasons. First, this was the only time so far where I’ve had time off during the summer. Those other times happened in the winter when the weather sucked. The sun never was out, the sky was grey, it was raining all the time, and it was cold. This time around, the weather was spectacular. I was outside, getting fresh air, and enjoying the sun. Lastly, I made these four months productive and worthwhile. Those other times, I basically just sat on my ass and played video games. There wasn’t a lot of personal growth there. This summer, I worked to make the time valuable. I did new things and saw new places. I got in better shape and stopped being tubby. I learned how to cook various meats and plants. I like to think I became a better person since that day in late April.
I used to question if I would enjoy retirement, if I even got there, because I was afraid it’d be too boring. I don’t question that anymore. I am so looking forward to retiring. This summer has taught me how rewarding time off can be. It doesn’t have to be just about sitting on your ass. There’s so much about the world and yourself to learn. So while I think I’ve managed to snag a pretty good job that will start tomorrow, I will always think back fondly to this “summer of me” and hope there will be another one in my future.