Dear Jackson,

December 31, 2009

RIP: The Aughts

Filed under: Before Jackson, Birth to 1 year-old — Tags: , — aJOHNymous @ 6:28 pm

There’s only a few hours left of 2009. The aughts–as they’ve been recently dubbed–are over. A new decade is beginning, and with that; new hopes, dreams, and resolutions are also being born. It’s been a crazy year, that’s for sure. It’s been an even crazier decade. I finished high school, graduated from college, got married, and by the end, I had a son. It goes by so fast.

I remember how I spent New Year’s eve, 1999. The Y2K scare was still in effect. No one had any idea what would happen when the world went from 1999 to 2000. Some people stockpiled food and water–just in case the world ended, I guess. Most of us just got drunk and partied into the wee hours of the new millennium. When I say most of us, I don’t include myself in that statement. I was at home, watching movies with Lady–the border collie I’d grown up with. We watched the ball drop in New York from the comfort of my boyhood home. I could have been out with my friends, drinking and carrying on, but I chose to spend the evening with one of the best friends I’ve ever had, and just take it easy. If the world were truly going to end, I wanted to be by her side when all hell broke loose. I knew nothing crazy was really going to happen, but I held on to that “what if?” scenario just in case. It made it more interesting, I suppose.

Fast forward 10 years to today. I’ll be spending the evening with my wife, my golden retriever, and my son. In a way, it almost feels like I’ve come full circle. The circumstances may be not be the same, but are they really that different?

As far as resolutions for 2010 (and beyond), I have a few:

1. Write more.
2. Learn to play the guitar.
3. Work out, eat healthy, and take better care of myself.
4. Write more.
5. Talk to a therapist about my many issues.
6. Be a better son, husband, and father.
7. Write more.
8. Be happier.
9. Turn a hobby into some sort of an income.
10. Slow down.

Jackson, I can’t say this enough: it all just goes by so goddamned fast. Take from this life as much as you can. Be as greedy as you can be with your goals and aspirations. Don’t ever wake up and ask yourself “what happened?” One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.

Let me put it a different way: I can remember how I spent my evening 10 year ago, but I cannot for the life of me remember a single thing about what I did and where I was on this day 20 years ago. Keep your memories close. Document everything you can because when you’re gone, that’s all that will be left. But you know what hurts the most? Sometimes it just dissolves into the ether before you can even document it. 6-years old seems so long ago today. It’s practically another lifetime. I’d give anything to just be able to remember a significant fraction of it.

Carpe diem. Nihil Desidera.

Seize the day. Regret nothing.

Cliché? You bet your ass. But that doesn’t make it any less relevant or important.

As is my way, I’ll download the events of the last decade into my memory banks and leave you with a nearly 20-year old quote. It feels eerily appropriate, chilling even, in how easily it can be related to the last 10 years of my life. It’s the final narration from the series finale of “The Wonder Years” TV show.

***

“Things never turn out exactly the way you planned. I know they didn’t with me. Still, like my father used to say, ‘Traffic’s traffic, you go where life takes you’. Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you’re in diapers, the next you’re gone, but the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a time, a place, a particular fourth of July, the things that happened in that decade of war and change. I remember a house like a lot of houses, a yard like a lot of yards, on a street like a lot of other streets. I remember how hard it was growing up among people and places I loved. Most of all, I remember how hard it was to leave. And the thing is, after all these years I still look back in wonder.”

***

Goodbye, aughts.

Happy new year, son.

December 9, 2009

Snowstorms & Loneliness

Filed under: Birth to 1 year-old — Tags: , , — aJOHNymous @ 4:12 pm

The last few months are a little blurry. So much has gone on. You were baptized, went to Florida, Halloween came and went (we dress you up as a monkey), you met new family members at Thanksgiving, and now we’re preparing for your first Christmas. The time has just flown by. 5 months already.

You saw your first major Wisconsin snowfall last night. I stood next to the window and held you as you watched the snowflakes scatter through the sky and land on the ground. You didn’t look all that impressed. I wonder what goes through your mind as you see these things for the first time. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really do envy you. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you and you’re seeing and experiencing new things everyday. You’ve got so much to look forward to and you don’t even know it.

Envy.

Jealousy.

Desire.
Regret.

Guilt.

Damn these digressions.

You also finally started smiling, cooing, and even laughing. The first time I heard you actually laugh was a moment I wish I had captured on video. I felt my eyes get a little misty. You seem to like being tickled on your chest and sides. That will usually bring out a few smiles and coos. You really start freaking out when I tickle your face and ears. It’s pretty funny, actually. You kick your legs around and make these weird sounds, but I’m quite confident that you’re enjoying it. You’ll usually give me a big smile when I hold you up over my head and you’re looking down at me. I’ve had to work to avoid your drool hitting my face when I do this. The risk is worth it, though.

Let me go back to last night’s snowstorm for a moment.

The power went out at about 10pm. The shitty part was that our block was the only one affected. The houses across the street had power, but we did not. I figured it would come back on shortly, but when it was still out at 11, I started to worry. Losing power during a snowstorm in winter is a scary thought for one reason: no heat. Your mom and I knew you couldn’t stay in the house overnight because it might get too cold so we called her parents and your grandpa came and took the two of you home with him for the night. I stayed at home with the dog in order to watch the house and make sure the refrigerator and freezers didn’t leak. Oh, and I failed to mention that your grandpa picked you up because we couldn’t get the automatic garage door open. This left me with no access to a car and no access to a snowblower. When your mom and you took off, I was officially at the mercy of the electric company.

The house was dark, intensely quiet, and I was alone—save for the dog. It gets damned lonely when the only sound you can hear is the whipping of the wind and snow outside. This level of quiet and solitude does bad things to my brain. I need to be occupied by other thoughts because inside my head is a pretty fucked up world that I’d like to avoid at all costs. I think this is one of the biggest reasons that I love to watch movies and read so much—it’s an escape from my own dark thoughts.

So, without a TV or an internet connection, I cracked a book. I hopped into bed with a flashlight pointed at the white ceiling—which illuminated the room—and read a few chapters from the autobiography of Robert Englund (he played Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies).

I love reading biographies about interesting people. Well, I love them and I hate them all at the same time. It’s fun to read backstage, behind the scenes type stuff but at the same time, it reminds me just how little I’ve actually done with my life. Blah blah blah. You’ve heard this all before so I’ll spare you my selfish complaining for now.

The point I’m trying to make here is that this was my first time actually being away from you by choice. I felt like I had abandoned you or something. It’s damned tough knowing how close you were but not being able to see or say “good night” to you. I have that connection with you now. When I smile at you, you smile back. I may not get to see you as often as I’d like, due to work and such, but I’m always thinking about you. I have your pictures all over my desk at work so if I ever need a boost, I just look up at your smiling face and I’m good to go.

5 months in and I finally get it.

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