By Ethan Denault

The decision to give up weed happened in a river outside of Walhonding, Ohio after landing a rainbow for the ages. A few months later the decision to quit drinking liquor happened in Kentucky after spending the afternoon knee deep in a roadside stream sniping brookies from under the shadows of the grass that grew tall along the bank. Three months later there was the decision to get hitched to Beth, and in the ensuing months the motorcycle and twelve of the thirteen fly rods were sold on Craigslist along with all the Van Halen and Montrose memorabilia. Clothing was changed from jeans and t-shirts to shirts that covered the arms and had collars and buttons running up the center. The word “slacks” came up often as did “Kohl’s Cash” and “men’s Chelsea boot.” Google history revealed top searches moved from “best tenkara fly rods” to “Hypoallergenic rugs on Wayfair” and “Goldendoodle breeders close by.”

In the following year the promotion to Associate Fiduciary Customer Experience Manager (within the Regional Process Centric Department) came and weekends were spent whacking golf balls on heavily fertilized courses on the north side of town in the company of individuals that used phrases such as “micro efficiency battles,” “strategy artifacts” and “circular economy.” The scale in the bathroom indicated weight gain to be north of 25 pounds.

That fall Beth announced on Facebook that she was expecting and the post was liked and hearted, and “thumbs-upped” and shared among family members and friends. A gender reveal party was announced and when a fishing emoji was posted it was immediately given the thumbs down by Beth’s aunt, Kathy.

In December, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan Fiduciary Association conference was held at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Resort. Literature at the front desk indicated that the atrium had over twelve thousand plants and a river. The receptionist did not know if the river was stocked. When pressed, she called her manager and he did not know but said he would ask the maintenance team and reply with their response. While sitting in a session regarding customer loyalty via SEO optimization, the maintenance team confirmed the pond was not stocked and had recently been chlorinated.

The decision to promote Rich Huffington to Director of Customer Experience (within the Regional Process Centric Department) was officially stated as being based on his tenure with the organization and ability to deliver “superior customer experience driven results.” Informally, it was gossipped that he was having an affair with Deborah in accounting.

A day later, in downtown Nashville, the decision to start doing shots of Fireball at a karaoke bar came on suddenly and shortly thereafter it made sense to get up on stage and sing “Dance the Night Away” followed by “Dreams.” Far in the back and unseen, Cheryl from HR cried during the last chorus.

Well after midnight, it felt good to stand in the chlorinated river in the atrium of the Opryland Hotel and Resort with eyes closed and go back to that favorite stretch of AuSable, feeling the sharp tug at the end of the imaginary line. And with shots of Fireball still coursing through the bloodstream the sound of the Opryland security guards shouting was indistinguishable from the sound of a steady breeze moving through the thick bankside poplars.

It was no stretch to say Beth would be mad. In fact, when she had to drive down after the ultrasound, she was flat out pissed-off.

But this wasn’t for her. Cosmically, it was to signal a change from one to another.  Because in the end, the warrior’s journey is often to cross a rather desolate field.

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