Where I’m at: Back in Brazzaville after finishing up our tour of the U.S. and others: 30 days, 18 flights, 14 cities (Pointe Noire, Paris, Montreal, Quebec, Seattle, Portland, Reno, Vegas, Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago, South Bend, Dayton, Kinshasa), 6 time zones, 5 countries (Congo, DRC, France, Canada, USA), 3 road trips, 2 boat rides, 1 great time!
What I’m doing: watching a reply of Monday Night Football, trying to figure out how DeSean Jackson scored 0 pts to cause me to tie my fantasy football game
Why I’m posting: 29 years of reflection
Our first official R&R (mixed with some work conferences) is now behind us, and it was fantastic! Saw family and friends all over, watched a marathon and an ND-USC football game, visited my mom’s new bar and grill (O’Grady’s, soon to be Stillwater Tap, off Rt. 49 outside of Dayton), played some golf (an eagle in a driving rain at night!), and I had my 29th (1st of 5) birthday. It wasn’t all fun and games (and some of those that were, also stunk, like losing to USC), as my uncle lost his mother, brother-in-law lost his grandmother, and father-in-law lost his brother. We’re still thinking of you guys and wishing you the best.
Which I suppose is as good a segue way as any to say that my birthday gave me some good opportunities to reflect. I had an off-the-cuff speech “planned” to give at my birthday party, except that it wasn’t just my party and there’s really no need to subject family to a moment that puts me on stage at the cost of others being the audience. Nevertheless, I thought I’d share a little about what I was thinking.
Birthdays are one of those occasions where we often take stock of where we are in our lives. As such, we might see ourselves as one in the same as what position we occupy. We might think of what job we have, our family situation, where we live, maybe our physical appearance or hobbies, or others. But for me, life is really the sum of all the experiences we’ve had and maybe even those that we’re setting ourselves up for. I know that this fits the “life is a journey” thing that my high school age cousin will soon be writing in yearbooks. At the same time, though, it’s more than a little cathartic to think of all the small moments, all the people we’ve barely known, and all the times we were happy, sad, upset, or indifferent as somehow greater than they all were individually. And – yes, this is right out of some rom-com – those that we’ve loved stay with throughout our lives, as important in those moments as they ever were.
I’m sure that thinking of your own life as a series of illuminated points, some brighter than others, isn’t necessarily the most novel or even comforting idea. But it works for me. It lets me skip around in my memory in spare moments to think of funny inside jokes with people I’ll never see again, bask in some of the amazing sunsets I’ve seen all over the world, remember my favorite handshakes, and relive the glory days of playing a 2-boy baseball league with my brother during the summers. Those moments involve crying over a grade-school break-up like there was no tomorrow, sneaking into the kitchen to take a finger-full of the cheese from the middle of the Entemann’s cheesecake when I was little, having a glass of wine over the best steak ever at a bar in Honduras with my best friend, falling “asleep” in my friend’s mom’s bathroom, hitting the perfect under-the-leg winner in the biggest tennis match of my life, spending my 21st birthday in a bar with a beer by myself until spending it with a homeless veteran and the girl I knew then that I would marry, trading rides to the store with my downstairs neighbor – owner of 21 tarantulas – for a can of soup…so that he could buy another single can of soup, listening to my little cousin cry that her brother “John made the car squiggle!,” hearing my niece playfully yell “Don’t chase me, okay?! No, chase me!” and many, many more.
Anyway, next year, at the second of my 29th birthdays, I’ll really have to decide whether I’ll “take stock” of what I have then or what I’ve been lucky enough to have had ever. I hope I’ll feel the same as I feel now. But how do you feel? What memories have you never gotten to tell people about because it didn’t seem significant enough to tell a whole story about or just want to relive? Post it in the comments! I’d really love to hear about it!
The quote: a picture! and a new memory!