my biggest decade yet // part nine

Year Nine: 2008 - The Biggest / Most Difficult / Worst / Best Year of My Life. *I failed to mention in my last post that almost immediately upon our return from Italy, we found out Micaiah was pregnant)

At the beginning of the new year we were five months pregnant with our first child and I was, though somewhat reluctantly, settling into my new job at BCC well. I got along great with my co-workers and was enjoying a small amount of success in my projects and had landed a few hard-bid jobs as well. By that point, one of the partners, Bell, had sold his ownership of the company to the other partner, Corley, who then sold a portion of it to the President of Operations, Tyler. Corley and Tyler were nice guys, but I had gotten along best with Bell, who was now gone. So needless to say, I was somewhat nervous about my future at the newly re-structured BCC. I made a point to make sure everyone, especially my bosses, knew that I had a baby on the way and that my wife was quitting to become a full-time mommy in March, which is to say - I drank my coffee from a “Daddy To Be” coffee mug.

The rest of the winter and early spring came and went without mishap, and Micaiah and I had everything ready for the baby, who was coming soon. On the afternoon of April 23rd, at 3:40pm, I got a call from my wife, who was in the early stages of labor. I rushed home and did everything I could to assist her, which wasn’t much. She had everything under control like a woman who had already birthed five or six kids before. The next eight hours is a long and awesome story for another post, which I have already written, here. At 1:09am, on April 24th, Emma was in our arms, fully formed and glorious. Micaiah had quit her job and was rocking out mommy-hood in style.

I August I had my one year evaluation at BCC and, shockingly, they gave me a 10% raise, yet in the very same meeting, they told me I needed to work a lot harder. Regardless of what they said, I knew I was doing a good job, and now I was making $50,000 a year. Good news to come home to the wife with.

I the meantime I had finally saved up enough money to buy a decent camera and a few lenses. I had shot a few family portraits for some friends, had a gallery showing of some of my work, and on Saturday November 1st I shot my first wedding for a total price tag of $300. I was elated, ecstatic, and thrilled. It was the most fun I had ever had while working. I knew that this was what I wanted to do. Everything was confirmed. That was a Saturday.

Two days later, when I got to work on Monday morning, my boss called me into his office and told me I was being laid off. He gave me a severance check for $2,500 and sent me packing. By that time Chris had already left BCC and was working for another company in Maumelle called RAW, a concrete subcontractor. I left the office at BCC, coffee still hot on my desk, and immediately called Chris. He said his boss could meet with me at 2:00pm. Long story short, they hired me on the spot, and I was back to making $45,000 a year and would be sharing an office with Chris, starting the next morning. A decent end to a rough day.

Three weeks after I started at RAW, the whole company folded. My last paycheck didn’t clear and we were back to nothing. This was another post-worthy story, which you can read here. We had no options, no jobs, and no prospects on the horizon. The construction industry was imploding and I was already a casualty, which was ironic because I still hadn’t finished that last class I was missing. My career in construction was over before I ever got the damn degree. As a family we had gone from two people making over $75,000 a year, to three people making zero dollars a year. I was collecting unemployment and wondering what was next. I had high hopes. Always high hopes.

We put our house on the market and my truck in the paper and I started working for a buddy doing small residential remodeling jobs. Painting, carpentry, repairs, etc., which was honestly a nice change of pace. Like a quote my dad often reminded me of: “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

With the pathetic amount of money we had left in our bank account, I started advertising for photography services on Google.

And then, amidst a whirlwind of fear and uncertainty, the year ended - not with a bang, but a whimper.