Updated: Jul 16, 2022
I found myself at the start of August 2021 with no job, a house that was still getting put back together, and a newfound sense of Wanderlust. My trip to Honduras in May reignited my passion for travel. The world seemed to be re-opening after a long year and a half. I decided I wanted to take full advantage just in case everything shut down again. Earlier in the summer, I had taken a short trip to Las Vegas to watch a playoff hockey game, and also a week-long trip to Alaska; riding the train from Fairbanks to Anchorage through Denali. I knew in my heart I wanted a big adventure but was not sure where, when, or how. I already had my "why" and the rest unfolded naturally.
I already had a side gig as a reseller on Poshmark, eBay, Mercari, etc. that helped with income. Earlier in the summer, I was blessed to meet one of the best humans I know; my homeboy Andre who was renting out space in my home for him and his dog. Andre is a retired wild land firefighter and a van lifer. My transgender adult child decided to give high school another shot so I allowed her to move back home as a roommate situation. I did some solo travel in my campervan with my dogs, and Andre went on some fun overnight van trips, along with our dear friends Jared and L.
Ace is The Place
Everywhere in Boise had hiring signs, and I felt like I needed something part-time to keep me grounded. I knew I wanted to do something totally different from mental health and learn some practical life skills. I saw Ace Hardware was hiring so applied and got hired right on the spot. I had some experience in retail but knew nothing about tools or lumber. I loved the hometown vibe of the store and the smells reminded me of my childhood growing up in Pittsburgh.
At Ace, I learned how to cut keys, mix paint and drive a forklift. The work was hard and the pay was shit, but I fell in love with my coworkers and the regular customers. Even though Ace is a franchise, it sets itself apart from the big box stores by being small with a focus on customer service and a sense of community. I was the 2nd to the youngest employee at age 48 and my assistant manager was a lovely, badass 21-year-old gal. Most customers were elderly and just wanted to chat. It filled my cup to help people find the exact 15-cent screw they were looking for that maybe fell out of some random table or appliance they had been using for 40 years.
Working at Ace restored my faith in humanity, and I was able to make someone's day with such a simple act as listening and giving a smile. I witnessed so much kindness in that store... from one of my coworkers paying the bill for a 94-year-old veteran who had forgotten his wallet, to helping an older lady who was incontinent and had an accident in the lumber aisle. It was at times physically demanding, trying to keep the shelves stocked according to the latest covid news, and as touching as it was to work there, I knew it was not going to be a long-term career move for me.
As the days got shorter, I was already dreading the upcoming winter months. The Delta variant was causing havoc in the US and there was an underlying collective fear of what would be next. September brought more heartbreak for me. My beloved 14-year-old Yorkie, Yoda, started having seizures and passed away suddenly. I knew he was getting up there in years, but he was still super spry and my baby. I also had an 18-year-old cat named Gospel, who destroyed my couches with her claws, and was constantly knocking things off the kitchen counter that she thought she owned and was the diva of the house. Somehow Yoda and Gospel had fallen in love over the years and were a constant yet unlikely cuddle puddle couple. When Yoda died, Gospel stopped eating and shrank down to fur and bones in a few days. I seriously thought this cat would outlive all of us. One week after I put Yoda down, I was back at the emergency vet saying goodbye to the cat.
I am crying as I type these words. It still seems almost unbelievable that they are both gone. As heartbreaking as it was and still is to lose my fur babies, they gave me the ultimate gift. I was able to be there and hold them as the light went out of their precious eyes, crossing the rainbow bridge. If either one of them was still living, there is absolutely no way I would have decided to leave my life in Idaho and come to live in Thailand for 4 months. Their passing also reinforced this notion that life is short and new chapters must be written or else what is the point of any of it? My inner compass told me it was time for a big, bold move.