On an unseasonably warm day in February, 1989, my life turned upside down.
I was 11 years old. My mother was six months pregnant with twins, and for three days had been having horrible leg cramps, which her doctor had told her was from the babies’ pressing on a nerve. He said it would pass in time and cleared her for normal activity. I went outside that afternoon with my mother – newly approved for light yard work – to clear some soggy leaves from around the hedges that bordered our driveway. It was so warm we wore only light shirts and jeans and could smell the soil and wet leaves as the last spots of snow melted from around the bases of the trees. We agreed it was a great day to be alive.
After we’d been outside for an hour or so, we were surprised to see my father pull up to the house at 3:00. This almost never happened; he was in-house counsel to a software company and rarely left before nightfall. We soon learned the reason: my father had lost his job, a casualty of the sine curve of tech industry growth that shapes his professional life to this day. He had also lost his health insurance. Continue reading