Ten Years Ago

New Year’s Eve

There’s a meme going on Twitter right now: #10yearsago. I said that I can’t remember exactly what I was doing for New Year in 1999 earlier.

But, wait, let me try to reconstruct it.

I had just started my job with Multnomah County that previous September, so I was still on probation. Didn’t have much vacation time. My family had been doing their Christmas vacations since ’96 or so, though, so they probably went somewhere. Is that the year they went to Aruba? I think so!

I couldn’t afford to go with them, which meant I stayed in Portland.

At that time, I was also a depressed, angry man; in the previous few years I’d reached for, and lost, what I thought was my dream job at Apple, by running afoul of Steve Jobs Himself. I’d felt forced to move back to Portland to live under my angry fathers’ roof for three excruciating months earlier that year. My mom was, unbeknownst to me, having a relapse of her lung cancer, and my father was carrying on an affair with my aunt, who had moved in to help my mom during her “recovery”. Let’s just say 1999 wasn’t the best year for the Moon family. But I had a job that promised, once my probation was over, to give me what little job security one can have these days, and I had a friend in Taij.

Taij was an angry redhead geek. He had been a contractor in the same group I worked with, and was always arrogantly proclaiming how much more technical knowledge he had than anybody else. He was a more dominant forceful personality, so it was inevitable that I would fall into his orbit. He drank hard, and partied hard, and worked hard – well, sometimes he worked hard. He had a lot of contempt for the basic “reboot your computer” type support that was needed at the county, so he often passive-aggressively slacked off, claiming he was too good to do that shit.

Seeing this now, it’s no surprise that he got let go, his contract wasn’t extended, by management. The timing was a bit of a kiss-off, too: mid December.

Already an angry man, Taij became even more sullen. His false confidence at how fucking good he was became depression that he would not find a new job soon. His girlfriend (a bartender at the Roseland) left him. He got hit by some drunk drivers one night when he and I were out drinking, too – and no one had insurance. What a surreal night that was, and worthy of a post all by itself. I admit, I was making bad choices. A lot. Not least of which was hanging on to the friendship of Taij, drinking all night on a weeknight, and going to work the next day smelling of booze.

I know, intellectually, from piecing all this together, that I must have spent New Year’s Eve drinking downtown with Taij. Our usual haunts were the Virginia Cafe (in its original location on SW Park Ave.), the Commodore (which was conveniently in the building Taij lived in), the Kingston, or the Roseland (until his girlfriend dumped him).

We had a lot of “haunts”.

But details of that night are fuzzy. I’m pretty sure we started drinking at his apartment, then walked down to the Virginia for a while. I vaguely remember wandering down to Pioneer Courthouse Square, which was fenced off, and a giant screen announcing the oncoming year, and that’s where we must have been at midnight. The Y2K scare was, to Taij and I, a big joke. We laughed about it, either way: if nothing failed, then technology won; if everything (or some things) failed, then it would be up to us techs to fix it. Win/win. But as was saw video reports from the east coast, three hours ahead of us, and nothing was blowing up, we knew it was a big fat zero.

I may have kissed a random girl at midnight. I’d like to think I did, and Taij, being a student of the “fast seduction” techniques, was always trying to get me to try them.

After New Year Day, though, I started to realize that if I stuck around with Taij, I was going to end up dead, or at least broken. More broken. I’d had a lot of angry people around me up to that point, and I saw a glimpse of more healthy friendships in people like Jake, and (eventually), Tracy.

One foggy morning in January, after having crashed on Taij’s couch from yet another all-night drinking binge, I walked out and took the bus home, and never spoke to him again.

Happy New Year’s Eve, and here’s to a better 2010.