In 1990 my dad's parents died in a single-engine plane crash and my mom used some of the money to go back to school for photography. In her class was my future wife.
In 1998 my parents were arguing about missing a deadline for financial aid to Emory so I decided to go to college in Boulder. I say Boulder, but that one year in Paris was everything.
In 2003 I worked as a mason tender helping build the new high school in my hometown, until I saved enough money to move to San Francisco. An art gallery hired me because the owner's brother's son was also named Mason, and we hung a lot of paintings for a lot of new money in Silicon Valley.
In 2005 I started working in NYC at a photo agency called Big Leo. It was the pinnacle of the magazine industry and no one had any idea of what was coming. At the same time, I started managing my fiancee's photo business and our wedding was featured in Martha Stewart Weddings. My teenage self would have been mortified but these days I just marvel at how many pages of ads there were.
In 2013 I was producing a shoot for Herbal Essences and it turned out that the agency in Cincinnati was looking for a creative director to work remotely. Pretty soon, an entire bathroom drawer in our Brooklyn apartment was dedicated to single-serving peppermint shampoo. We moved to Richmond in 2015 because my mother-in-law's cancer came back.
While on vacation last summer, I got a call from my chief creative officer. He told me I was being let go along with most of the people on my team. I had to laugh, because at that very moment I was in India, walking barefoot down the road in the middle of a funeral procession. Loud drumming, garlands everywhere, and fireworks were exploding to ward off evil spirits. Then, in the middle of the call, it started pouring down rain. As someone wiser than me joked later, it’s rare that the universe gives you such clarity.