This post isn’t about Halloween (I did a “fear” post a little over a week and a half ago, that’s all you get.)
For those of you that are still with me, as I write this (I’ll likely post it after we land…) I’m now 38,000 feet above middle-America (Nebraska at the moment I believe) on my way to Seattle for work and then a little play.
The extent of my Halloween celebrations this year involved dressing like a pirate (which I do a few times a year anyway…) and going to work. This is partially because I always wait until last min and fail to get super excited about my costume, but this year I also had to be at my office by 6:30 AM in order to catch my flight.
Some of you already know, but I spent a little under the first quarter-century of my life in the Seattle/Washington area. Though I left when I was around 27, I also moved around a lot when I was young, so stints in Montana, South Dakota (when I was very young,) California, and even Japan are included in that time period. Regardless, Washington state was my base, where I was born and the closest thing I have to a hometown.
When my logistical situation stabilized a bit as a kid, I was finally able to stick with the same class from 6th grade through high school graduation. However, I didn’t have the elementary history a lot of those kids did, so it left me feeling awkward and outcast. Most of middle-school was trying to find the individuals with whom I had common ground but by high school I started to get my social footing. I was never a part of the popular crowd, but especially by sophomore/junior year, I had a solid group of people that I spent my time with.
Early in my high school career, when my family went through a particular low point, my father and I found ourselves homeless. To his credit, despite our difficulties, my father made it his top priority to get me to school every day as he tried to earn enough money to get us back on our feet. Eventually some family friends in the Mill Creek area (roughly and hour away from my High School) took us in, but I refused to change schools. Again my father was gracious enough to make the commute every morning and evening so that I could have some level of regularity. When we finally got back into an apartment, it was still a distance away in a town called Juanita. Again I refused to change schools, but memorized the bus routes and spent over an hour on the bus before and after school in order to remain with the group of people I had spent years attempting to connect with
Ironically, I graduated in 1997 and lost touch with a large majority of those people. Over the years (as often happens) I grew apart from most of my high school friends and went on to develop my life that eventually landed me in Florida. But then, even more years later (getting into our thirties!) through the wonder of social media, we began to reconnect. It’s very interesting to see how people change and grow over the years. Some have changed to the point very little is left of who they were back then (that probably applies to me…) and others very much remind me of the kids I knew in High School.
This trip, I’ll have the pleasure of meeting up with three of the ladies from my past (including my Senior Homecoming date AND my Senior Prom date.) It’s literally been over fifteen years since I’ve seen these people in the flesh (I had little interest in my ten year reunion.) I’m looking forward to both reminiscing and stories of the years in-between. It really is mind-blowing to think about how your life grows into something completely different than you could’ve imagined back then. Perhaps it is not like that for everyone (I’ve known some to do exactly as they said they would do… and others that are still trying) but I believe for the majority, people develop in ways and directions they never could’ve imagined. Perhaps they’ll allow me to share a small bit of their stories here after we catch up.
I also plan to visit my father while I’m in the area. As you have probably gathered, my childhood was (all too typically these days) rocky and difficult. We were always relatively poor and my parents did the best they could while battling their demons, but those demons and a number of factors contributed to my growing up too quickly and learning to be independent at an early age. Years later, I am estranged from most of my family and I am more or less friends with my mother and father. I (obviously) owe them my life and will do what I can to support them as they age, but I don’t remember the last time I felt a close family bond with any member of my biological family.
That said, especially the last decade or so my father has made great progress. He went back to school, graduated from the University of Washington with a Computer Science degree, and has a very zen-like low stress philosophy (very much the opposite of his younger days.) This particular philosophy might’ve been some of the best “advice” he ever gave me (other then my sex talk: “Use a condom.”) he said something along the lines of: “I remember when I was younger I would stress about everything I had to do. I held on to all this stress… it would just ball up inside me and every time the smallest thing would go wrong, I would instantly get angry and explode, causing more problems and making me feel physically sick. But one day I just realized how pointless it was. Stress never fixes anything or makes anything better, so I decided I’m just not going to stress anymore.” Such a simple concept, but it made a huge difference in his approach to life and also impacted me early in my adulthood. It wasn’t the first or last time I would hear such an outlook, but I saw the transformation in my father for the better and it convinced me.
On a random, semi-related side note, my father is the reason I’m such a hardcore carnivore. When we could afford it, the man grilled/broiled up a mean steak (he can even prepare a cheap chuck steak to be tender and tasty!) But the one thing I will always crave from him are his Franks’s hot sauce buffalo wings. He has a mixture of Franks, butter, and some random spices that make a high calorie, highly addictive and ridiculously delicious buffalo sauce. I eat way too much and pay for it later. It’s totally worth it, every time.
Before I get to all those festivities though, there is work to be done. I’m fortunate to be flying out on the company’s money, but the flip side to that is that we have a major show to put on that will involve over 32 hours of work for our team in just two days. Today is the calm before the storm, I’ll write again when I survive it.