Indiana, ca. 1985
Photo by Greg Hines

Upon graduation from college in 1983, I found myself back in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. I had no job, so I moved back in with my Dad (who had divorced my Mom while I was in college) until I could get on my feet. With his help, I obtained a drafting job with ITT. It was good work doing mechanical drafting. Eventually, I talked my way into doing computer drafting of electronic circuitry. Somewhere out there in orbit around the Earth is a GOES satellite with some of my design work on its printed circuit boards.

I also met a great girl named Joanne Zelle at ITT. A romance bloomed, and we moved in together for a couple of years. Sharing living expenses with her meant I had a great deal of disposable income, and I was also able to travel. A trip to San Francisco only reinforced in me the idea that there were better places in the world to spend oneís life.

I was able to buy my first multi-track recording studio, a keyboard, and various other things I needed to start recording music on a more serious level. Modeling my music on the Punk Rock style, fancy studio equipment was not required. I released the albums Mirror and Abandon, although there were virtually no people around interested in my avant garde escapades.

Although I lived in a backwater with virtually no outside artistic stimulation at this point, I found myself creating copious amouts of new work. I had the whole of art history I had brought with me from Indiana University art history classes, and I had my analytic skills which I had honed doing engineering design at Purdue University. During these four years back in Ft. Wayne, aside from my music, I created a wide range of paintings during my long periods of free time. In terms of artistic production, this was my high point. But there were no places to show the paintings, no one to show them to. As comfortable as I was, I knew I had to leave.

With the help of ITT, another one of my artistic idiosyncrasies fell into place. After completing a particularly difficult project, we were rewarded with a bonus consisting of a gift certificate to a local clothing store. I needed new clothes anyway, so I decided to find a theme and buy a whole new wardrobe. What could I wear that would immediately say to people, "I'm an artist?" I had noticed that when attending cultural functions, most people favored dressing in basic black. These people seemed to dress "artistically" for these special occasions. I, on the other hand, was an artist at all times, so I reasoned I should dress "artistically" at all times. This is how I came to wear nothing but black. Aside from some work out clothes and a few light colors for outdoor summer wear, you won't find anything else in my closets. Many people find this very strange or depressing. As a painter, I love all the colors, but black expresses my artistic side perfectly.

On the outside, things seemed wonderful. It was easy to let four years slide by. Working was so much better than school, since you get paid for it and there are no tests to stress you out. I had a girlfriend, friends, family, and plenty of money. But I could feel my brain starved for something else. I didn't know what, but it wasn't here. My Dad retired and moved to Florida. My brother got a job in a photography studio in Minneapolis and left town. I began to get depressed over everyone else going off to exciting new locales while I remained behind.

I didnít realize it at the time, but I was suffering from clinical depression, and my mood nose-dived. Looking back, I see my life had periods of depression that kept recurring on an almost regular basis. Ultimately, I would become totally sickened by everything around me, even myself, until I wanted to die just to get away from it all (keeping in mind that "wanting to die" is not the same as wanting to go through with it--it was never that bad). It began with dark mood swings in high school, and with each return, the mood would be darker and last longer. At first, there was usually a cause that would get me depressed, like breaking up with a girlfriend. Then this mood would spiral out of control until it was totally out of proportion to the cause.

It was during this time in Indiana that I experienced my first real dark mood that had no identifiable cause and simply would not go away. I felt trapped, and I hated all the creature comforts that made it so easy to stay. My first effort at trying to free myself up came in the form of breaking up with Joanne, who I'm sure didn't see it coming. I had learned early on that people don't like hearing you moan about being depressed, so I had learned to hide the moods and dark thoughts as best I could.

Although depression has hurt me in many ways over the years, causing me to be somewhat of a quiet loner prone to periods of withdrawl, it has also been the source of many positive changes in my life. It was this search for a cure that led me to leave Indiana and begin finding outlets for my true artistic nature.

During a vacation in Florida to visit my Dad, I found my stepsister Beth had moved to Florida. She had visited earlier, decided she liked it better than Ohio, and sent for her things. Dad and his new wife, Marianne, had put her up until she got on her feet, and now she had what appeared to me to be this idyllic life living in a vacation wonderland.

A few months later, I lay in bed one weekend morning staring at the ceiling. Again, in a flash, it came to me: Florida, Dad, place to stay, way to get out! I okayed it with Dad, and I turned in my work notice and packed off to Florida, having no idea what Iíd do once I arrived. I canít begin to describe the sense of relief I felt as I looked in the rear view mirror of the moving van to see the last traces of Ft. Wayne disappear over the horizon. This was excitement, seeing the world, and living life, and for awhile it dispelled my depression.

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© 2000 by Rick Hines.
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