The Middle Place

10294385_10203801221296115_2475776669019344581_nA while ago I read this book by Kelly Corrigan entitled The Middle Place. It was all about the shifting nature of familial relationships. We are born and we become the new generation, the young whipper-snappers who will inherit the world when we come of age.

But then we come of age and we’re not so young anymore. Then time moves on, we have our own children, and they become the new generation, the young whipper-snappers who will inherit the world. But where does that leave us?

We end up stuck between worlds, which made a bunch of sense to me then, and which makes even more sense now. We are no longer young. We are not yet old. We are fathers and mothers, but we are still sons and daughters at the same time. We are in the middle place, and it can be very awkward at times.

I remember when Alexa was born and how inadequate I felt. Suddenly I was somebody’s father, but I didn’t feel like a father. I felt like a gangly 18-year old with braces who doesn’t know his ear from his elbow. Now, finally, 10 years later, I do feel like a father. I feel like I’m mature enough to say, “Yes, I’m her dad,” and I can handle everything that comes along with that.

But when I’m back around my own mother I have a tendency to feel like that 18-year old again, even now. Probably because I fall back way too easily into those learned patterns that existed for years in that household. Perhaps if I spent a lot of time around her it would be easier to develop different paradigms, but seeing her only twice a year or so makes that difficult.

So I’m in that middle place, that space between the generations that feels so foreign, but only when I’m around both generations. If I’m just here with my children it’s easy to feel like the man of the house, to be the father and only the father. The son melts away into the shadows then. And when it’s just me around my mother I’m simply the son, and the father waits for me until my children show up again.

Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be, at least for now, and I guess it beats being the youngsters entrusted with the future. But we are the present. We are the ones most equipped to deal with the “now,” and that’s scary in and of itself. But we got this. Because we are in the middle place, and it’s where we finally belong.

Sam

Dear Journal: Monotony

Dear Journal,

We do the same things all the time, these routines that define us, that label us for all time. If we were to die today they would follow us forever. When was the last time I changed it up? When was the last time I did something different, unique and new just for the sake of saying “I did it”? I know when I was younger I did those kinds of things all the time, because when we’re young we don’t have nearly as many responsibilities, people counting on us, and we stretch more. I admire those who stop doing something successful because it doesn’t fit their definition of success or because it doesn’t fulfill them. I wish I were like them and could stop pushing this same boulder up this same hill and still wish for different results. If I want difference I need to be that change, not just dip my toes in the water but dive in headfirst.

If I still can.

Sam

Premonitions

“Oh, my life is changing every day, in every possible way. And oh, my dreams. It’s never quite as it seems. Never quite as it seems.” -The Cranberries

_dreams_by_devilish_premonitionI had this dream last night, and in it some people had broken into my car. I don’t remember where it was parked, but something tells me it was at the mall, in one of the outside slots, where the eighteen-wheelers like to park across several spots at the same time. I’m not sure why it had to be there, but of course that made it more appealing for thieves. And I couldn’t recall if I had locked the car or not, if it was a passive break-in or an active one, but I sensed that somehow I had locked it and they had smashed in the back window with a crowbar or some other such implement.

I’m not even sure where I was when this was happening, but I showed up moments after the thieves left. I could even see their own car pulling away, but I didn’t have my keys so I couldn’t follow them. They were driving away but looking back, taunting me because I didn’t have my keys. Then one of them, a sandy-haired youth, tossed the ring of keys out of a back window, and then they were gone. Just disappeared, car and all. I went to grab the keys but they weren’t mine. In fact, they were a set that kids play with, the large plastic multi-colored keys. And I remember feeling stupid that I hadn’t realized I had brought them instead of my actual car keys. Of course they belonged to the baby, but if you had asked me what baby I wouldn’t have been able to tell you.

Then I went back to check out the car, to see what other damage they had done besides bashing the back window in. The passenger side doors were wide open, open even wider than they can actually go, and the car looked pretty immaculate inside. Nothing seemed out of place at first glance. They had even brushed the glass off of the back seat and I could see the shards glittering against the pavement. Then I noticed that my iPod was missing, and I broke down in huge, gasping sobs, knowing that my world was over. Continue reading “Premonitions”

What She Needed

His hands always drove her crazy. The way his palms slid smoothly across the inside of her arches sent shockwaves through her brain, every single time. The oils he massaged into the soles of her feet lulled her into a state not unlike sleep, where everything was balloons and cotton candy, a veritable smorgasbord of heavenly proportions. His ministrations tricked her mind into thinking only the two of them existed in the whole wide world, that none came before and none would come after. It was just them, in the moment, forever. Or at least until the half hour was up and she paid him the $50 bucks she owed.

Valerie almost never went into the mall by herself, preferring to do most of her shopping online, like most people her age. It took about two seconds for her to buy a few entire outfits, while still in her underwear, and all she had to do was use her credit card like it was going out of style. That turned out to be her problem, though, when every month the credit card bills would fall into her mailbox and put her into a mood. And of course when she was in a mood over money the only thing that could soothe her was another visit to Nails & More in the mall. It was the only reason she ever went.

Then there was Thad too, the man she was sort of seeing. He reminded Valerie of a hitchhiker who was always thumbing a ride to somewhere new because being stagnant was not in his vocabulary. It always surprised her that she could even call him her boyfriend, but he had allowed it just a few weeks before, and she even changed her Facebook status to mirror the sentiment. But she hardly ever actually saw him — he was always on the road with his band — which made it difficult to rely on Thad for support, moral or otherwise. And she needed him desperately right then.

It had hit her like a sack of potatoes when her boss called Valerie into the office to deliver the news, a surreal experience if there ever was one. Twenty minutes later she found herself wandering the small mall like one of those zombies she liked to watch so much on TV, aimless until she found the one place that felt to her like home. Continue reading “What She Needed”

Asking the Tough Questions

thNever ask questions if you aren’t prepared to deal with the answers.

I don’t even remember where I first heard that, probably on some lame, cliche-filled TV show or right after a pregnant pause in a dramatic film. But isn’t it true that some of the most poignant turns of phrase show up in the oddest places? With great power comes great responsibility anyone? Luckily for me, I honestly don’t care where it comes from, if Alvin and the Chipmunks said it, or if it came from Al Gore, or even if it’s a catch phrase for Joey from Friends. I take every single one that interests me and I analyze it to see how it could be applied to my life, then I share what I’ve learned with others.

Question #1: Where is this relationship going?

This may surprise you, but before I got married the first time the longest relationship I had been in was a year in length, and three months of that time were spent estranged. So the question was indeed very valid for me. Was I ready at that point to analyze a relationship and see if it could be long term? Or was I just in it for the fun and excitement that came from being with someone new, and then with someone else new, et al. Honestly, my answer to that question back then was always, “This relationship is status quo, which is good enough for me.” It’s no wonder my relationships lasted such a short amount of time.

Question #2: Where do you plan to be in five years?

It’s not as easy a question as you would think. So much happens in the course of life that five years can be an eternity made up of a series of shifts and changes that define and redefine who we are. If you had asked me the question five years ago I highly doubt I would have said I would be here, doing what I’m doing, thinking the thoughts I’m thinking. I know I wouldn’t have said I’d be here writing a blog right now. In fact, back then it was all about writing for myself, and not sharing with others. And the big problem with plans is that we have a tendency to try and fit our lives into those plans and then to judge ourselves on whether or not we hit our objectives. Continue reading “Asking the Tough Questions”

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