So this is it. Our last day in New Jersey finally arrived. Those who know me know I’m not one for drama and being sentimental so this post is pretty much out of character.
Describing the last three months as challenging is an understatement. The saying, when it rains, it pours, has never been more true. Life feels a lot like that arcade game where one must bash the head of the gnome when it peeks out of its hole. Needless to say, I’m the gnome…and not even an overdose of Advil can stop my headache.
When I became (practically) unemployed at the beginning of April, I was the fountain of optimism. I convinced myself I will have my own PR firm running smoothly within a couple of months. I guess I was being naive and going through the first stage of grief. Today, I’ve become the voice of doom. Amazing what 90 days of uncertainty can do to a man.
Nothing’s worse as a dad than taking away the house you’re family has come to love. Our one year in Cambridge Heights in Nutley, NJ brought so much joy to my wife and kids. My wife, Maya, made long-life friends with our neighbors. My teen daughter, Monique, began her first year of high school filled with angst and ended the school year with unforgettable experiences from performing at Carnegie Hall to making the volleyball team. My 5-year-old son, John, found a best friend in Diego (not the cartoon). And my 4-year old son, James, improved so much and is now speaking and socializing with kids his age. In anyone else’s eyes, it would have been a banner year.
Our home interrupted. Yes. Defeated. No. The past 90 days have brought us closer to many friends and family who’ve shown us immense support. Without them, the past three months would’ve been even more difficult. These generous folks would prefer to keep their kindness in private but I do want to recognize them here to express my gratitude. I will always be indebted to you for helping us at our time of need. (Listed in no particular order.)
Lloyd, Edyth, Samantha & Joelle Ocampo — The Ocampos have been our rock during the past three months. You’ve been our pillar of strength for many years. Llloyd & Edyth have become second parents to my kids and I am grateful for treating them like your own. They’re the only folks I know that when they ask, “how’re you?”, they actually mean it. You both have the biggest hearts in the universe. Knowing you have made us better people.
Raymond Vasquez — My big bro who spent time listening to my fears about the future as we played golf together at his expense. Your support meant a lot. If I can only be half as successful as you in my career, I’ll be set for life.
Maki & Dave Evans — The purveyors of Cupcakes Gourmet. Although you’ve moved to Downingtown, PA, years ago, you’ve continued to show us you care about us. Without your help, we wouldn’t have been able to take some of our most prized possessions. Thanks for opening your home to us while we go on this new adventure.
Mike Vasquez — Your recent visit was timely. Your faith has invigorated mine. When I find myself doubting at times, I remind myself of the struggles you faced and the words of encouragement you shared with me. I’m glad to have found you bro.
Pastor Chris High — Skyline Community Church is blessed to have you as their pastor. The past two years you spent meeting me every two weeks saved my family. Your words of wisdom and honesty have been enlightening. Please continue to pray for us.
Chris Hayes — I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. You’re one of the smartest PR people I’ve ever met. It was a pleasure to have worked with you. I don’t know how Miramax survived without you there. Your professional and personal advice as well as belief that I’m good at what I do helps me get through the frustrating days when potential employers or clients are unresponsive.
Hugo & Laura Arellano — You’re the best next-door neighbors anyone can ever ask for. Even if we only shared a year as next door neighbors, we’ve established a life-long friendship. You’ve gone above and beyond as neighbors especially in northern NJ where being neighborly is hardly the norm. More importantly, Maya found Laura as an inspiration and possibly a distant relative from the Basque region of Spain. My sons, John and James, will miss playing with your two boys, Diego and Pablo.
Himanshu & Sweta Shekhar — Although not our next-door neighbors, your friendship means so much. I will always remember Himanshu as my last “golf student.” Thanks for letting me share some of my golf knowledge to you. Sidhart and baby Dhruv are blessed to have you both as parents. Sweta is an awesome mom. John and James will miss coming in your home unannounced.
Lara & Rick Bernales — Lara’s one of Maya’s best friends since high school. She is also Monique’s ‘ninang’ (godmother). You can’t ask for a better godmother. Rumors have spread that Disney’s fairy godmother was based after her. I’ve never met Lara’s husband, Rick, but from what I know, he was born to protect and to serve. He is after all a former police officer. Thanks for making it possible to turn our road trip into a mini-vacation.
There are more fine folks who’ve given us their support but they shall remain nameless. All of you have touched our lives in significant ways. Because we know you’re there, we refuse to give up. We just have to believe things will work out for the best in the end.