43.

Year 1 must have been fun. I was the center of attention, the new “bundle of joy” that burped, burbled, smiled, laughed, and occasionally cried. But there was nothing else that could compete with these dimples. Of course I don’t remember any of it. My mom says I was a little nightmare, but I’m going to go ahead and assume she meant perhaps toddler stage. At 1, I was a treasure.

I do remember year 6, and kindergarten, and making new friends. Okay, so there were really only 2 friends, but that’s 2 more friends than many others can lay claim to even now. Hmmm. Do I have 2 solid friends right now? But yes, in year 6 I learned how to tie my shoes, to count numbers, and of course the art of manipulation. I know I was fascinated with the shadows and light on the television screen back then. Maybe I still am.

Then there was year 22, which started off with a bang, even though year 21 ended so poorly. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say I didn’t go through the rites of passage in quite the order they were supposed to be experienced. It was the first time I realized how stupid I was, how complex the world was, and how far I was away from the person I hoped I was going to end up being.

It was also the first time I realized time is finite, that I wasn’t going to live forever. Funny how much that realization changes everything.

Year 32 was full of so many new experiences too. I was a family man, and the family was finally complete, though at the time I thought there might still be a new addition or two forthcoming. On some level I’m glad that didn’t happen, because from this side of the glass everything is perfect how it is, but on another level I still held out hope for another seismic shift to the dynamic.

And now I am reminiscing on year 43, which was full of tradition, a lot of firsts, and just a warm and fuzzy feeling I haven’t had for a very long time. Continue reading “43.”

The Ineffable Quality of Love

ineffable: too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words. 

The other day I ran into someone who uses the L word a lot. In the course of regular conversation, she expressed it no fewer than 10 times, to encompass everything, from the latte she was drinking, to her new bag, to the latest episode of some vapid TV show she watches but I’m glad to say I’ve never seen.

I nodded along, but inside I was counting, and thinking to myself, “You can’t possibly love all of these things.” I realized one of two things in that moment. Either she honestly believes she loves all of these things, or she hasn’t really taken the time to analyze her feelings for each one, and love is simply a placeholder until she decides she wants to dig a little deeper. If she ever decides she wants to dig a little deeper.

Too often people don’t. Too often they grab a word, put it in their pocket, and pull it out whenever the mood strikes, whenever they can’t think of anything that fits the situation they’re in. That’s why we often say we love others too soon, when all we can possibly feel is attraction, or companionship, or relief, or any number of a million other feelings that often masquerade as love.

We see others living the lives we want, having the love we wish we had…

Continue reading “The Ineffable Quality of Love”

Clip-Ons and Half-Smiles

My mom never took pictures of me on the first day of school. I think it’s because she realized I looked no different then than any other time in my life. Okay, maybe I had a cleaner, ironed shirt on, but we all knew it would be rumpled fifteen minutes into the school year. So, why front?

It’s like when we had school picture day. Sure, I wore a tie most of the time, and a sweater to cover up the fact of no tie at other times, but generally I had on a collared shirt. That was fancy back then (at least when I wasn’t in church). I only knew it was school picture day because the clip-on would be lying on my bed when I got out of the shower.

It was like Santa had placed it there.

Sometimes I wish they had clip-on ties for adults. Don’t tell me they have them. You will ruin my dream. It’s the dream that sustains me, after all, the illusion that they don’t exist. If you tell me they do, then I’ll have to subscribe to a new illusion. Like when I found out about the Tooth Fairy.

So, I would clip on that tie, adjust it to hide the fact it was a clip-on, and I’d smile for the man, or the woman, who stood behind the camera with a chipmunk grin. Continue reading “Clip-Ons and Half-Smiles”

Bridge Diving

Sometimes, when I pass a bridge, I slow down. I ease back on the throttle. I turn down the music, straining to hear the haunting melody of the river below, as it lulls me into both a complacency and an urgency in the same moment. I imagine what it would be like if I jumped, if I tumbled head over feet into the abyss, if I would survive. If I would even want to, at least in that moment anyway.

Then the moment passes.

But I’m somehow changed by it, transformed in that instant when anything was possible, when I was capable of doing that thing. I tell myself it was never real, though, that I never slowed down, that I never imagined myself, arms raised out wide, staring off into the never ending blue, or brown, or gray water below before letting go. It’s so real, though, this feeling when it comes, so overwhelming at times that I have to remember to breathe, to drag one breath at a time through my lungs.

Sometimes, it scares me.

Who am I kidding? It always scares me, when it happens, when I think for a second that I could be able to do something so drastic, so permanent, so astoundingly perfect in that instant. I always snap out of it, though, the road dragging me back, the gas pedal calling me back home, or to work, or to get pizza on a Thursday night. There are too many bridges around here. I’ve never really consciously noticed before, but they’re everywhere.

Sometimes, I imagine what it would be like if I could find a path where there are no bridges, where life doesn’t hang by a thread, even if it’s just in my momentary daydreams. Continue reading “Bridge Diving”

Like Sunday Morning

I have always loved Sunday. It’s the first day of the calendar week, but it doesn’t have the stigma of Monday. It’s the last day of the weekend, but for most of the day it can be easy to forget that and just go with the flow.

It has long been a day when things get done, at least for me. I write on Sunday, I clean on Sunday, I read on Sunday, and I listen to music pretty much all day on Sunday. So, it sounds like total love, doesn’t it?

The problem is that Sunday, like all days, can be separated into three distinct time periods: morning, afternoon, and evening. And, while morning and afternoon are absolutely masterpieces, evening is where everything tends to fall apart.

It’s not that I’m anxious about returning to work, either. There’s just something to be said for time that is relatively free of schedules. There’s a peace to be had when you can look at the clock and know this is time you can do pretty much what you please, within reason. (But, believe me, sometimes I want to do things with that time that aren’t within reason. Thank god I have that little angel on my shoulder.)

These Sundays I can often be found in my study, with at least one shade open (so I can see outside but I don’t have to be outside) and Microsoft Word open, the words filling the screen like soldiers marching in formation.

Right now, Florence + the Machine is serenading me with “Make Up Your Mind,” and I’m smiling, because this is where it’s at. Sunday morning, with the music flowing, with the words dancing, that’s my happy place. Continue reading “Like Sunday Morning”

There Was This Girl

There was this girl.

There always is, isn’t there? A girl, a dream, and some magic beans to make it all turn out the way we want it to, or at least that’s how it seemed to me. It’s funny how, when you’re 18, 19, 20, the world seems so small, the possibilities so large, how everything is within your reach, even when it isn’t.

So there was this girl. She wasn’t typically someone I would go after, because I thought she was well out of my league. Imagine on a scale of 1 to 10 — she was a 9 — I only trusted myself to go after 6’s and 7’s because I hated rejection, and most 9’s would dismiss me out of hand. It was okay. I knew I wasn’t 9 material.

But this girl…

She was beautiful in all the ways that counted, though I barely knew her. She was like Juliet, this wish list made real, but so dangerous in pretty much every way. This was obvious almost from the start. She wasn’t religious at all (and if she had been, it most certainly wouldn’t have been the religion I had been raised in), she was a very good dancer (or so she said), and she didn’t know she was a 9.

Isn’t that fascinating? So often people don’t recognize what they look like to others, how they’re perceived by the people they come in contact with. Usually 9’s know they’re 9’s because of all the attention they receive, but that’s not always the case, especially if they’ve “grown into themselves.” They’re used to being 5’s and 6’s so that’s all they see when they look in the mirror. Continue reading “There Was This Girl”

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