Posted By Kristabella on July 9, 2009
I meant to write this post on Sunday. But then I was too tired to put together any coherent thoughts. So I’ve been pushing back writing this post for days and days. Which is stupid, because I’m more tired as I get closer to the weekend than when I start the week.
So this past Sunday was July 5. It marked an anniversary of sorts for me. Because 10 years ago on that day was my first day working for the San Francisco 49ers. Ten years. I can’t even believe it. Man, I’m getting old.
People always thought it was odd to start on July 5. But it was a Monday. And also, when you work in the NFL, usually the 4th of July is your last opportunity to take any vacation for the rest of the year. Because training camp starts just a few weeks after that and it is time to get focused and get ready for the season.
(Side note: I once went home mid-July, very close to the opening of training camp, because my sister had just had a baby. My nephew was born on June 26 and I HAD to go see him before the season started. I wasn’t going to go a whole 8 months without seeing my first nephew. And believe me, I got a rash of shit for taking vacation so late in the summer.)
I can remember almost every single thing about my first day. I remember exactly what I was wearing. I have a perfect visual in my head of me standing in the Public Relations office, knowing that at that moment, life couldn’t get any better.
I was so nervous. It had been awhile since I had started a new job. And this was my first REAL job. And I was living all by myself, in a state where I didn’t know a single soul, 3,000 miles away from my family. And it was the fucking San Francisco 49ers for Pete’s sake. There were Hall of Famers walking around me all the time! It was nothing like working in college sports or in minor league baseball when you could say you knew those stars before they were famous.
At the time of my first day, I was staying at a hotel around the corner from the 49ers facility in Santa Clara. It was all very new to me. I had just driven up that weekend from Arizona (I had to pick up the rest of my stuff from college that I had stored) and couldn’t move into my apartment until later in the week. My friend Connie caravaned up to California with me from Arizona. And we splurged and went to Togo’s for dinner and sat out on the lawn of the hotel and watched the fireworks being set off from Great America on the 4th of July.
My friend Teri, who is the wife of my old boss at the Niners, she always makes fun of me about that first day. She always makes fun of me for many reasons, but she used to always joke about me on my first day. When I got there, when I asked how I was doing, I apparently said “I’m nervous. It’s my first real job.” Which, hey! I’m just being honest. But Kirk must have told Teri and she laughed because she’s old and she doesn’t even remember her first job because it was so long ago. (Actually she probably does. And if you get her drunk enough, she’ll tell you all about it. And she’ll probably serenade you with Paradise By The Dashboard Light by Meatloaf.)
Most of the day was a blur. Frozen in my memory is the image of me standing right by my desk, the one I would sit at for three years, trying to look professional in my blue dress shirt and black pants, hoping I wouldn’t throw up from the nervousness.
My one memory that will stand out from that week was as I was sitting at my desk with my head down, proofreading the media guide probably, someone came up to me, stuck his hand out and said “Hi, I’m Bill.” And as I looked up, I was staring into the face of Hall of Fame coach, the LEGEND, Bill Walsh. And I think I told him my name. And probably shook his hand for an inappropriate amount of time. And kept it to myself (until now), lest Teri make fun of me for something else.
Working there was an experience. It is an experience I wouldn’t change for all the money in the world. It was hard work. I struggled with so many things. I made a lot of mistakes. But I also learned a hell of a lot. I am the worker and the person I am today because of the six years I spent working there. I made friendships that will last for a lifetime. I had to be strong because I was literally all alone when I moved there. I grew up. A LOT.
I think back to my almost-22 year old self and I almost wish I could be her again. I wish I could have that rampant ambition, that slightly less jaded outlook on the world, the feeling that the world and thousands of opportunities were just waiting there, at my feet, waiting for me to take hold of them and run as fast as I could.
I wish I could shelter her from a lot of the stuff she is going to go through. I wish I could tell her to worry less and enjoy life more. I wish I could tell her that having a big mouth is no longer endearing in the professional world.
But I can’t. And that’s OK. Because she survived, she grew, she learned, she enjoyed life. She had to go through these things. She had to learn, had to get knocked down a few times to learn how to brush herself off and move on. She had to experience LIFE.
And I wouldn’t tell her to do anything different because I think we’re both pretty happy with the way it has all panned out. No regrets.