Homecoming Court

homecoming

In a phone conversation with a newly-divorced friend he said something that stuck with me; “we can’t be twenty-five forever and I know that the next forty years of my life will be significantly worse than the previous forty”. I guess that even I, the grumpiest of all grumpy people, can’t look at life that way. Maybe life won’t be the stories that my friends and I tell over a bottle of whiskey. I’m aware of that, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be interesting.

I spent most of my high school years avoiding what I saw as the all-American high school experience. I didn’t go to prom, football games or dances. I don’t know if I know who the class president was. I refused to buy into the idea that high school was The Best Years of Our Livesä and instead did the whole punk rock get-through-it-and-don’t-let-it-define-you routine that somehow ended up defining me more than going to prom ever would, but that’s another story. The point is that I didn’t do these things.

Now my niece is a senior in high school, and I find myself watching her from a distance. I see what she opts in for and opts out of and it’s all terribly interesting to me. So when she made Homecoming Court my immediate thought was really?. But there she was, flattered to be unexpectedly nominated.[1]

Because of my family’s condition[2] I was asked to walk with my niece across the football field during the homecoming festivities. This is a thing that apparently happens. At first I was worried that this was some sort of Purity Ball, but then I was assured that the father-daughter-togetherness of this ceremony wasn’t some sort of dad-demanding-control-of-his-daughter thing and more of just a sweet gesture, so I agreed.

It was a normal autumn Friday night. I could hear the band playing at the football field as my niece and I sat in the little holding area for the Homecoming Court and their nervous dads. I made small talk with the fathers, mostly about what we did for a living and Tori spent her time complimenting the other girls and their dresses. She was effortless and sweet. I was an anxious mess.

I had flashbacks to walking through those high school halls. Knowing which bathrooms were filled with smoke and the common areas where my appearance would bother the rednecks. I remembered my old locker and the upper class girl who would only speak French to me because she liked messing with kids’ heads. I remembered how I’d sit in the library alone, reading month-old issues of Rolling Stone and listening to the nerds play Dungeons and Dragons. Lunchtime was spent there, hearing dice hit a table and castles being stormed while I watched the world change from Queensryche to Pearl Jam. I was only at this school for six months, but I hated it. I was lonely and alone. I had that very unique and individual pain that comes from being a freshman in high school who was convinced that he was the only person in the world, or at least in the library.

Despite this panic, I just watched my niece and just saw how she was a happy and well-adjusted kid. I know that there is probably worry, dread and even a little bit of panic somewhere in her brain, it is normal. But she seems to be handling it all so well. I just felt proud of her. I felt proud of her for being braver than I was, and seemingly more willing to have a “normal” high school experience. It was a good thing.

homecoming2Minutes before halftime, we prepared to walk down to the football field. She stood up and put on her high heels. She was taller than I am. My shoulders were slumped in from years of staying invisible. But I straightened them so that I could stand next to her. I walked with my chest out, and for a bit I was proud of coming through those lonely years and being able to walk onto the football field with the prettiest girl in the Homecoming Court.[3]

We stood outside of the field waiting for the clock to wind down for halftime. We heard the alarm go off and they told us to prepare to walk out onto the field. I watched the girls in front of me hold onto their dad’s arms. Tori reached down and grabbed my hand.

In my head it was New Year’s Eve 1999 all over again.

Back then I worked for a tuxedo rental shop. As a perk for getting $7.50 an hour to work there, I got a free tuxedo rental once a year. That year I made sure to have one for the Millennium celebrations. As I got dressed and prepared to go out my niece, then two and a half looked at me; she’d never seen me dressed up. She walked around the house with me as I got ready to go holding my hand. She told me that I looked “pretty”.

Tori’s hand wrapped around mine on the football field and I realized that she was in the eyes of the world, nearly an adult. But to me she’d always be that tiny kid holding my hand while cartoons were on the television.

Just in the split-second that the memory came back, I looked at her. She was smiling.

“Stop touching me,” I said.[4]

She laughed and held onto my arm like the other girls were doing for their dad.

Maybe my friend is right. Maybe our early lives are fleeting and there isn’t much we can do to recapture those glory years. But that doesn’t have to mean that the next few years aren’t going to create stories to tell.

I’m not sure. But I guess that I’ll document it here if there is a story to tell.

[1] Seriously, she was. Her Facebook postings show that this was completely unexpected.

[2] Yeah, our home was broke. So what?

[3] I’m aware that I am probably biased, but this is my blog. If you want objectivity go buy the yearbook.

[4] We don’t touch in my family.

Alive!

fghnLv

 

Busy time, busy life. Busy being an adult.

Family

I’ve had a bit of a family crisis. It was nothing major or particularly ground-shaking for me or my wife, but my family was in the midst of a crisis and I had to figure out how to respond. I’ll write about it sometime, but not while the dust is thick in the air and the wounds haven’t healed.

It’s funny and weird being looked upon as one of the more responsible members of my little family. I don’t know if I like it or not, but it is rather interesting. Seeing it happen. I guess I’m 37, so that means I need to accept that I’m a grown up, but it is still a strange sensation. I was perfectly fine with the idea of being a fuck up when I got older until I’ve gotten older and became a fuck up for a little while. My take on the situation: there’s no such thing as being some “beautiful loser”, because at the end of it all you’re just a loser. So stop getting day drunk and get a job.

Work

I spent a few days in Houston, Texas and I’m really warming up to the place. Good restaurants, friendly people, surprisingly diverse town. I got a lot of things done and I’m spent some time there I’m sort of moving past the “man, I don’t like Texas” policy that I had after driving through the panhandle fifteen years ago.

Rock and Roll

pttytcktWhile I was in Houston I stumbled upon a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert at a little out-of-the-way spot called the Toyota Center. I grabbed a ticket from a very friendly scalper and I was super blown away by Mr. Petty and Messrs. Heartbreakers, they are a damn fine live act. I walked into the show as they started “I Won’t Back Down” and left after the encore tune “American Girl” 12 or so songs. Wonderful, well-played blast-these-songs-with-the-windows-rolled-down-songs.

The next night I had the pleasure of seeing Lee Fields and the Expressions at the House of Blues. Good show. The band was tight and Fields was a solid singer. I’m just happy that the opening act (the unfortunately named Electric Attitude) didn’t play for two long. Man those guys were a shit sandwich.

Last night I hit up the Orange Peel in Asheville NC to see The Afghan Whigs. I liked their singles a lot back in the 90s and they were a solid band last night. I had no clue how loud they were until I left the club. I’m pretty sure that they were one of the loudest bands I’ve ever seen live, which is scary.

Exercise

I’m alive, and I keep doing the Crossfit stuff. It has been fun going to the gym a bunch and seeing how much I can torture myself. Last weekend I did the Fight Gone Bad workout. I scored the second-lowest reps in the class for the exercise, but what matters is that I did it. I’ll get better.

More later. I promise.

Washing a Lot of Dishes

In a few weeks it’ll be the seventh anniversary of my grandma’s death. For those of you who do not know, my grandma pretty much raised me and was the mother figure in my life.

After she died I remember there being a lot of covered dishes brought to my grandpa’s house. There was chicken, casseroles, vegetables and a ton of other stuff. The fridge was full for a few days.

Thinking about it now, I think that the way people in the southern United States deal with death is by washing a lot of dishes.

September

Do you remember the 21st night of September?
Love was changing the mind of pretenders
While chasing the clouds away

Back to Normal

The last week has been full of interruptions. Places to go, people to see, things to consider. I turned 37. My wife was in Newfoundland as part of her Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship thingie. Now she’s home. Now I’m a year and a few days older.

I don’t like the days before or after a birthday. I spend the days before thinking “my birthday is coming up, I’ll be _____” and then I spend my birthday trying to decide if I actually feel older. I still don’t know. But I am glad that I don’t have to think about it for a few days.

My wife was gone for eight days. Not a long time, but time enough for the house to appear empty and the quiet of being alone to begin to feel oppressive. Package that alongside the solitude of having a birthday and nobody to really celebrate it with and it was a strange few days for me.

But things are back to normal. As I left the house today, she was on the bed surrounded by our pups. Things are back to normal, and I couldn’t be happier.

Home.

My favorite time of the day is when the sun starts to go down over the big mountain that faces the double windows in my living room and the window light against the far wall makes everything look awful and dusty, covered in an impossible no-you’ll-never-effectively-dust-this-area-enough-because-the-sun-is-gonna-come-in-and-shine-all-over-every-imperfection-in-your-home-and-you’ll-have-to-learn-to-live-with-it sheen of dust. The fan in the living room (and later in the year, the heating vents) then make a sound like a distant parent “shhh-ing” me when I speak up. When it starts to get dark out and the afternoon traffic dies down on my street the shhh-ing and the fans and the vents just quietly vibrate and I am thankful to be living here and sometimes I’m so thankful to be living here and living in general that I almost forget all of the crap that I made up in my head about why I shouldn’t be thankful to be living. And everything like that.

And so it begins again, for the hundredth time.

This is an attempt to break up a bit of the mental inertia that has plagued me in recent years. I used to like writing, but now not so much. I could fire off a thousand words on what kind of fork that I like. But now thanks to my own inherent laziness and the instant gratification of social media anything longer than three sentences has become a chore.

I used to blame work. I was tired after a long day spent communicating the needs of the organization that I work for, but the same inertia and procrastination is starting to seep into my work life. But I have to fight it.

It’s amazing, really. Over the course of the last year I’ve developed an ability to be more physical – lifting weights, running and even some light yoga, and the motivation to do these things are there inside of me, constantly gnawing away at me. I have better control over my body than I ever have in my life. Knowing what food goes in and making conscious choices about what I should or shouldn’t eat or drink. The outside of me is starting to become taken care of. I won’t be so bold as to say well-taken care of, but it’s getting there. But the inside of me is not even close to what it used to be.

I’m turning 37 years old this week, and I have to challenge this mental inertia. This is the first try at that. With any luck, I’m going to post something here every day. Hopefully it’ll help me. If you stumble upon this site and the words that are on it, hopefully you’ll like them. If you don’t it’s cool. This isn’t for you anyways.