Yesterday was my last day at Happy Cog. Today, I’ve started my own practice again.
…so, yeah. That paragraph doesn’t do much for, you know, context, does it? Consider that the TL;DR version, and let’s try again:
If you ever talk to me on the phone, you should probably know that I’m a bit of a pacer. I guess I should blame it on the nanosecond-long attention span, but I can’t really sit at my computer when talking to someone at length. More often than not, I’ll simply pace back and forth in the kitchen. Our pearlish-gray kitchen tiles form some rather, well, comforting diagonals, and I’ll just walk along them from one corner of the room to the next. Still not sure why I do it, to be honest. I suppose tracing those pixellated little laps frees my mind a bit, a mundane, repetitive little charm that helps me better focus on the discussion at hand.
Having that routine provides not a little symmetry when a major life change happens. I was walking those elliptical loops when I agreed to join Airbag Industries. And I was making my kitchen laps yesterday when Greg and I had my last phone call as an employee of Happy Cog.
I could say that the decision to leave has been difficult, sure — but that’s one of the most understate-y understatements ever if not, perhaps, the understatiest. I joined a little studio called Airbag Industries over three years ago, and it’s been a wonderful, insane, fantastic ride. After a few years of running a mini-studio of my own, I leapt at the chance to work with Greg and Ryan, two of my favorite (if personal space-challenged) people. From there, we took on incredible projects, watched the team more than triple in size, and eventually officially joined forces with Happy Cog, a studio I’ve admired since first picking up my now dog-eared copy of the orange book.
Throughout my tenure, I’ve been fortunate to work with people who are consistently at the top of their game. And I can’t stress that enough: everyone at Happy Cog is eminently professional, impossibly fun to hang out with, and just stupidly talented. It’s one of the first times that I’ve worked alongside so many craftsmen, if you’ll pardon the lack of an appropriately gender neutral term. Each project was an opportunity to ask ourselves how we could work a little bit better than last time, how to learn from emerging technologies and ideas, and build something truly great. Plus, you know, there was the occasional karaoke bout thrown in for good measure.
Re-reading that last paragraph just underscored how hard it is to leave. But in the past year or so, I’ve been feeling more and more excited about some of the opportunities that have been coming my way. I’ll be rounding out this year’s simply fantastic An Event Apart roadshow with appearances in DC and San Diego, and speaking at Future of Web Design NYC in November. And I’m unbelievably excited to be writing for A Book Apart on responsive web design, working with Jeffrey, Jason, and Mandy to produce a great little book.
So that’s why I’ve decided to leave Happy Cog, and go independent again. As hard as it is to move on, I’m positively exhilarated by the prospect of focusing on writing, speaking, and creating, hopefully with the occasional awesome client project thrown in. If that sounds interesting to you, or even if you’d like to chat a bit about how much Photoshop crashes or your favorite animated GIF, I hope you’ll get in touch.
Over the past few weeks, as my last day at Happy Cog loomed closer, I’ve been thinking about how most of our language around transitions has gotten wrapped up in books. You know: “turning a page,” “the next chapter,” and so forth. And there’s something comfortingly sequential about those phrases: we turn one page, and the next one gains focus. Thing is, the transition isn’t quite as forward-looking as the rhetoric implies: the previous experience shapes us, educates us. We’re always flipping back to a lesson we’ve learned before.
So that’s where I am now. I’ve just turned a page over, and it’s one I’ll sorely miss — but I know I’ll be referring back to it in the months and years ahead, as I do some writing of my own.