Life Decisions of a Six-Year-Old


By: Jay Kennedy

When it was time for me to start school, my parents gave me a choice.  I could start kindergarten at the local public school in my neighborhood where most of my friends were going.  Or, I could attend a Catholic school across town and my Dad would drive me the extra 20 minutes every morning, and then again every night.  Mom & Dad were fine with whatever I decided, so it was up to me.

I wasn’t overly pious or answering a higher calling when I opted into daily mass.  And I didn’t choose to attend St. Lawrence because it was tony and private (it was neither).  Six-year-old me chose it specifically because Otis Baumgartner, the neighborhood bully, did NOT go there – and being 20 minutes away from him on a daily basis sounded like this thing called a “miracle”, a subject I would soon learn all about. 

The perks of being a member of the St. Lawrence student body included a zero-jeans policy, a nun as the principal, and one Friday a month they brought in pizza from Arni’s – the local pizza shop - for lunch.  Despite all of these perks and benefits, The Catholic School Years were short-lived, and by 4th grade, I was more than ready for denim, an in-house cafeteria, and a shorter commute – Otis Baumgartner be damned. 

As Ember’s newest employee and a resident of Portland, Maine, I have been thinking a lot lately about those early morning commutes with my Dad.  (72 miles gives one some time to reminisce).


Coming from a buttoned-up business-based association, the irony of now driving a little further every morning so that I can wear jeans in the office is not lost on me.  And, while there is no in-house cafeteria at Ember, Newburyport’s cafes and restaurants more than make up for it. Perhaps most ironic, my drive to Newburyport and Ember actually drops me off two states closer to Otis Baumgartner, or at least his modern-day equivalent. 

A new job is scary, learning curves are steep, and until knowledge breeds confidence, there is doubt.  But if my six-year-old self-learned anything it is that you don’t run from the Otis Baumgartners of the World.  You don’t avoid challenges, personal growth or progress in lieu of the easy, convenient, or safe choice.  If the obstacle is the commute and if the opportunity is a fun, vibrant, promising company like Ember, then you choose to get in that car.

Chris Gasbarro