On champagne corks, the journey, 2012 and symbolism

I drove to up the hill of a road my house is on when I got back to town New Year’s morning. Not for any specific reason, just to see where it went.

The road was steep and windy with guardrails on both sides to prevent an awful tumble; a luxury I think all of us would appreciate in real life.

There were points when I was able to get up to 30-35 mph, but would have to come to a complete stop again 100 yards further in order to negotiate the hairpin turn. Then, I would reset the steering wheel straight and continue up the road toward whatever I was heading for.

I’ve written and rewritten this post several times trying to find the right words, the right angle, the right message. There’s something to be said about writer’s block, but it’s not that you don’t have anything to write – it’s that you have too much to write.

Too many competing thoughts, too many competing messages, metaphors, anecdotes and angles swimming through your brain that you have no choice but to leave the post in drafts for weeks, touching at it every once in a while to even further mess up the overall theme of the piece. It’s enough to drive a person insane, as several writers before me have certainly done.

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Was this supposed to be a post about my trip across the country? No, I don’t think so. What is there to say about that?

It was an incredible experience and even more so than I could have imagined at the outset. Seeing the different landscapes and people, living like a nomad for an entire week with your entire life and everything you own in your backseat and trunk is something else. It really makes you think about where you’ve been and where you’re going. Every mile a memory, of course, and I knew very well at the very beginning that this trip would be more than miles. I was leaving things behind and going towards the unknown – hoping that I wouldn’t regret it.

I decided that you have to make the best decision with the evidence and information you have at the time. That’s all you can do – at least that’ what I have been telling myself.

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Was this a post about my first couple of weeks at my new job? Not really. It’s been such a whirlwind that I don’t know if I could possibly write something cohesive enough to explain what I’m even doing. I will say, however, it’s been incredible.

I’m in the newsroom six days a week for 10-11 hour days, but the time flies. There’s something to be said about trying to produce meaningful company-wide, industry-wide change. Of course it’s going to be difficult, of course there will be resistance and obstacles and stumbles. That’s part of the growing pains I fully expected to encounter. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by people and leadership that believe in the same vision I do.

And I’m fortunate enough to have a paying job doing what I would do for free.

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Was this a post about looking back at 2012 and forward to 2013? Kind of – but then I would need to go back to 2011 and talk about how I imploded so awfully that I needed to make the drastic changes in 2012 that I did to be able to be where I am in 2013.

Does that make sense? Of course not, and that’s why that’s not what this post is about. There will be a piece about that, but the words I need to make that happen haven’t made themselves clear to me yet.

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Was this a post about cork? Was it about this sparse substance that has the AUDACITY to hold in such an unbelievable amount of pressure in champagne bottles?

Was it about the champagne cork from the bottle I opened on December 31, 2011 in a hotel room suite with some of my very close friends when I told them that I would be staying in on the weekends more, saving money, moving away from Waterbury to be closer to my job in Meriden? Is this a post about how I used that champagne cork as a reminder and what it represented in my mind to help me push through the hardest times to make sure I could reach those goals in 2012?

Kind of. And that cork is here with me in San Jose today, helping me stay on track toward where I want to be.

That cork reminds me of that night we said goodbye to 2011 and I said goodbye to a year in which I was selfish and made some poor decisions. That cork reminds me of the night I spent at Mohegan Sun with my friends and the great time we had together, but having looked over my shoulder the entire night hoping my best friend would walk in. That cork reminds me of the UConn/St. John’s game at the XL Center in Hartford that day before heading to the casino for New Year’s Eve when I ran into my best friend (quite literally head on) but couldn’t even muster a word. That cork reminds me of the promise I made to myself to make changes and become the man I always knew I wanted to be. That cork reminds me that at a very fundamental level, at a time when I was so very confused, that that was what I needed to be running toward.

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Maybe this is a post about all of those things.

I can’t say with any certainty I knew what I wanted to write when I set out to write this – what message I wanted to portray or what memory I wanted to document.

Maybe that’s just what life is all about: Uncertainty. You won’t always see the end point when you start out towards something. The road will wind and you’ll have to compensate at the wheel in order to keep going toward the goal. The words may not flow the way you thought they would and you’ll have to figure out another way to craft them to make it to the next sentence.

You can make grand plans with a very specific, tangible end point in your mind. Very early on in your pursuit, you may realize that that is not be what you really want. You may even realize that you’ve already lost the way towards it or lost the most important thing you wanted to bring with you to the finish line.

These thoughts filled my mind as I was driving up the hill New Year’s morning.

Where was I going? What was after this bend? Was there danger ahead? Would I lose my way? Would I find whatever it was I was looking for? What am I looking for? Would I know it when I saw it?

I can’t speak with any certainty and answer any of those questions. I didn’t even know when I would know that I could turn back.

I got to a point on the road and pulled over. I got out of my car and just looked out.

Was this the end of the road? No, of course not.

But it was a good point in the road to take a break and appreciate what I could see.

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2 comments

  1. Randall Deane · · Reply

    Nice writing Alex, you inspired me to comment, that’s one of the best compliments to a writer by the way.

    Life indeed is quite the trip and the living is all about the journey, not the end points. It’s about your reactions to the sharp turns and the lovely views along the way.

    And it’s about the times you fail, what do you do with that ache? For me it is falling to my knees in prayer. Some “swear there is no heaven, but I pray there is not a hell;” giving thanks for the seven wonders of this world, sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, love, and God’s creation . . . .

  2. Karen Rosa · · Reply

    Alex – I have FAITH in you! I love they way your writing makes me think, reflecting back on my own life. You are wise beyond your years. You are on a remarkable journey, enjoy.
    Love you, Karen

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