USA, Ohio

26th January 2005 – 25th April 2005

WOW! You don’t get much more of a contrast than this. Last chapter I was backpacking through Brazil, sunshine, beaches, bikini’s, party’s, not a worry in the world. Getting dressed up involved pulling a singlet over my shaggy shoulder length hair and slipping on flip flops.

Now the day involves scraping the ice off my company car, sitting in my windowless office in front of my computer, clean shaved, corporate dress, my shoulder length hair left on the floor of some Brazilian barber shop. Its like the past 2 months of backpacking were a dream.

I’m all over the sales report! (after 2 months I moved up to an office with a window). High St, looking to downtown Columbus.

I am the assistant Marketing Manager for a promotional gifts company. A position that was created for me by my previous boss in Spain, and a great opportunity to start my career in his international company. The plan is for me to work 3 months in the US office, then go work at the German office learning how things are done, returning to the US to sign a 2 year contract.

After 2 weeks living in a hotel I found a room to rent close to downtown Columbus. It was real bachelor pad, 3 storied house, 8 person hot tub, massive entertainment system. My flatmates were two guys who worked on Buddy Rices Indy car pit crew. This was great because they spent a lot of time travelling with work, and not too mention the fridge was always stocked with beers as ‘Millers’ was there sponsor.

 Home sweet home The Bachelor Pad with all the toys.

Before I knew it I had been eaten up by the corporate world and living the American dream.  I had my routine, Monday to Friday, 8 to 5 and gym after work. I really enjoyed learning the business, using my degree and the people I worked with. But something was missing, I wasn’t completely happy with the idea of living this “American Dream” for 2 years (the length of the contract I would be offered after my 3 months in Germany). The thing that was missing, was a city. Columbus had a population of over a million, but the life had been sucked out of the downtown by super malls in the suburbs. It snows in Ohio, but there’s no mountains and its a 20 hour drive to the beach.

Although I had been given the opportunity of a lifetime to move up quickly in the company, I knew I wouldn’t be happy living in Columbus. I informed them that after my 3 month stint I would not be coming back. What would the next chapter be? I didn’t know.

I realised I had made a wise decision. This was reinforced a week later when I was staring at the ceiling of the hospital isolation room. Doctors with masks on testing me for crazy serious diseases such as HIV and meningitis after I had been admitted to the hospital with severe headaches, vomiting and a bunch of other symptoms. Its these times when death is a little closer and realistic that you have time to think and realise happiness is everything.

All ended up good (well, good in the sense I wasn’t going to die, but I was still bloody sick), I was diagnosed with viral meningitis. The luckiest part was that my travel insurance still had 2 days before expiring, and with a US$12,000 bill for a night in the isolation room, I was happy.

After recovering, my time had expired in Columbus, Ohio, I had to leave. My boss kindly gave me my ticket to Germany, even though I wasn’t going to work for him. So it was off to Europe for my next chapter, still with my Brazil credit card debt, still a little sick, but with a sense of achievement and a new outlook on American people who had all been so friendly towards me.

NEXT CHAPTER

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