it is as a long corridorFebruary 9, 2014
In late 2006, I said goodbye to my friends, and my girlfriend, and my family, and I walked down this passage at the airport in Raleigh, North Carolina, to fly to Japan for two years.
It was already after CD’s, and she had made me a playlist. I remember - it was this song as I took the picture in the passage, and it was when I took the picture in the passage that I realized I was leaving. August 29, 2006. At 11:05 pm, to be precise… (why don’t I ever properly set the time zone on my cameras, I wonder, now?)
There were no titles on the list, so for years I didn’t know the name of that song, until shazam at least. But I often think of it when my life is changing; when I’m going somewhere… when things are never going to be the same.
When I was in seventh grade, we were all shuffled into the gym to hear the high school jazz band perform. It was fine. It was great. I enjoyed it. But then Gray Currin played Stairway to Heaven. Don’t laugh. I didn’t know yet. I hadn’t seen Waynes World; I had never even heard the original song. How could someone barely older than me do that? I was amazed. I wished I could do that. And then, a little voice. My voice. In my head: “Why couldn’t you?“
I was a slightly morose kid. I wasn’t given to flights of fancy… this was a new feeling for me. And so I did it. 3 years later I played the same song in the same gym with the same band. I never stopped playing; I never will stop playing.
A little under a year ago, Yuri came back to New York and got a job as a Python developer. I told him how impressed I was (and I was, and I am) - he essentially picked it up on his own, after all. I had always wanted to learn more about computers… they’ve always fascinated me… but it is so much… it is too hard… I couldn’t… I don’t have time…
“Sure you could!” Yuri told me, and he gave me a few little puzzles and problems and riddles. I solved all of them, and then I went online and found some more and I solved those too. And then a week later I found the original Cue programming challenge on a message board, and I stayed up until 7 the next morning solving that.
“Congratulations!” the browser said chipperly “Please send us your resume!”
A little voice.
I’ve spent hundreds of hours at the keyboard since last May. I’ve spent dozens of nights playing with code until dawn. I’ve never been able to focus this much on anything else, other than music and my instrument, and tomorrow I get to keep focusing on it with around 60 other people from all over the world and from a crazy cross section of fascinating disciplines… because tomorrow is the first day of Hacker School, and I am so excited about it. Introductory emails have been coming in for a while, and I am simply blown away by the people with whom I get to spend the next 3 months- and humbled to be counted amongst them. I have no idea what we’re going to end up working on, though I have some inclinations, but I sure am looking forward to finding out.
Yuri, and Gabe Herrera, and Andrew Madden: Thank you. all three of you offered votes of confidence at the right times. At just the right times.
And a public thanks to the Wix Lounge- a place that is, quizzically, what it says on the tin. I spent a lot of days there, and it was a true help.
And to my cohort: I hope the coffee tomorrow is strong, because I think quite a few of us are not going to be sleeping much.