Ten years ago today, on June 10, 1999, I became a full-time, productive member of society when I began work as an employee of the City of Denton, Texas.
I had just finished up graduate school a few weeks before and this was my first "real" job. I had had jobs before, of course, whether it be a menial summertime job at a now-defunct amusement park or a decent job at an architectural consulting firm I held for several months between the end of my undergraduate education at the University of Houston and the beginning of grad school at the University of Texas at Austin. Technically, in fact, I hadn't even finished with graduate school when I took the job in Denton; I wouldn't receive my diploma until I turned in my professional report that following November. But Denton was my first "professional" job: school was over and from now on, this is what I was going to be doing. And I've been doing it ever since.
Normally, this is where I'd write something cliché about "has it really been that long?" or about "how time flies." But I can't, because it really, truly feels like it's been ten years since my "real life" began. That's probably because so much "real life" has happened between then and now: Lori and I lived in Lewisville for one year, then we moved to Denton so I could be closer to work and she could be closer to her classes at the University of North Texas, 9/11 occurred, Lori got her master's degree, I quit Denton, we moved back to Houston, I found another job, we got married, we moved into an apartment in Midtown, Kirby was born, I changed jobs, we brought a house, the Astros went to the World Series, Lori's brother moved in with us, Lori's mother died, Hurricane Ike came... At lot of stuff, whether good or bad, has occurred over the past decade. For that reason, my first day at the City of Denton really seems like something that happened a long time ago. Life evolves over time, and that's absolutely what's happened to my life over the past decade.
It is said that over the course of life you are supposed to become both smarter and richer. Richer, yes - I'm thankful that I'm in the the best position, financially, that I've ever been in - but smarter? Eh. I am certainly more cynical today than I was a decade ago, but I don't know if that counts. What does matter is that this past ten years in the "real world" has been, on balance and in spite of the hardships, a lot of fun. And since I still have a lot of the "real world" ahead of me - it will be another thirty years, at the earliest, before I can retire - I can only hope that the next few decades are as interesting and as fun as the last one has been.