another year down.

I managed to make it through another year alive. I wasn’t too sure after getting hit by a car and nearly killing myself on the side of a mountain, but it looks like I’m still in one piece.

29 years old. That’s a decent bit of time.

Funny/sad story. Two weeks ago I looked at Tree and said, “Dang Terese…I’m gonna be twenty eight years old.” She looked at me, with a sort of “Oh you poor thing” expression.

“Baby, You ARE 28. you’re going to be 29.”

I was a little taken aback. I had never internalized being 28. Seriously. The thought just never took hold. No sarcasm here. Here’s proof: Here’s a comment I made at the beginning of July, clearly saying I was 27 years old. And I’m not vain enough to just lie about my age.

I lost a whole year. I had 12 months to enjoy being 28, but I squandered it thinking I was lame old 27. I just googled “28 year old” and all I got was stories about 28yo guys murdering people. Imagine if I had taken hold of my 28’ness. I could have changed the world’s perception of 28 year old men.

But maybe it’s not too late. After all, I’ve got 12 more months of being 28!

fatherhood

Last night Teresa and I were talking and I asked if she could have one parenting quality, what would it be? She answered “more patience.” Completely understandable. The conversation carried on and I never got to give my answer, but I think if I could attain one parenting quality, it would be good story telling skills. One of my parenting dreams is to have a long, winding bedtime story. Something that continues on for months and years until Noah and I have a Harry Potter-esque franchise of our own.

But I don’t know if this will ever be. I’m just not a good story teller. I even suck at common conversation. I find my self often telling stories about stuff I saw on TV. I get half-way in and the thought pops in, “You’re doing it again! Stop now!” And the distraction only makes the story that much worse. Not sure if Noah will cause in me the same social interaction anxieties that co-workers at holiday parties will. We’ll see I suppose.

Today I was reading Jason Boyett’s Pocket Guide to Adulthood: 29 Things to Know Before You Hit 30, and he was talking about the importance of our elders. He specifically talked about his grandfather and the rare occasions he would tell the story of his experience in the Second World War. He spoke of his grandfathers adventures and trials. Bailing out of a plane in enemy territory. Spending a year in a POW camp. Walking what was to be his death march, on to be cut short by a lost English soldier driving up in a jeep and scaring away the Germans. The ultimate point was that the people with the stories are the same people that others trust, and feel closer to, as the stories not only tell about their history, but open up a part of their life.

Not only was I thinking “I can’t tell stories” I was now confronted with the fact that my life doesn’t have many stories worth telling. I’ve always battled internally about my choice to not follow in my father’s and grandfathers’ foot steps of military service, and what that means to me as a man. I feel God has other plans for me, but I’ve never been able to shake the doubt of shirking off a duty. I value things like honor and bravery and courage, but have yet to really have them challenged. I talked plenty of game, but how will I react when it really comes down to it?

Turns out becoming a dad, one of the most manly things a guy can do, really causes you to question your manliness.

In the same book, I came upon the chapter entitled, “Simple Home Maintenance When Dad’s Unavailable.” Now, home maintenance is something I’ve really wanted to take pride in. I’ve managed fairly well thus far, fixing a few things here and there, but as soon as I came upon this chapter, I instantly felt a little guilty. I sorta turn my shoulder in, hiding what I was reading like I came upon a sexy ad in a magazine and didn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. I’m afraid if people realized I learned how to fix a leaking toilet from a book, then I’m less of a man. I should just know how to reshingle a roof, right? That comes with being able to open jars doesn’t it? It’s yet another thing on the long laundry list of stuff I want to be good at. I just want to be reliable. I want to have my family know they can depend on me for anything. I’ve heard stories of men like this, but I always end up wondering what those men thought of themselves.

I’ve got a lot of improving to do as a man. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. When I find the time for all this I have no idea. Maybe juggling it all is part of the experience.

st. patty’s day massacre

Today marks an anniversary. 10 years ago I pinched a girl for not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day. My motivations weren’t solely about the enforcement of old-timey dress codes, there were ulterior motives.

This girl happened to be an ex-girlfriend. I didn’t mean her any real harm, but it was one of those high school “you’re my ex-girlfriend so I have to antagonize you a little more than other girls” kind of thing. The intimacy gained from having dated this girl, in my mind, gave me some form of permission to use less social caution around her than I would any other girl. I grew up with 2 older sisters, so annoying girls is sorta in my blood.

So I pinched this girl. I pinched her on her upper arm, a fairly sensitive part of the body. I pinched her too hard. What I saw as slightly over doing it, her body saw as a good reason to bruise.

The day went on, classes came and went, long bus ride home…

My father approaches me and says he needs to talk to me in the living room. Mind you, the living room, while not a “this couch is not for sitting” style living room, was pretty much empty all year except for Christmas morning. A talk in the living room wasn’t something to scoff at.

“We need to talk. It’s about your friend Teresa”

Two things: First, my pubescent, away from school mind had completely forgotten about the day’s events. School is at school, home is at home. They stay in separate parts of my brain. Second, my father delivered this line in a very “there’s been an accident” tone of voice.

“What!? What’s wrong?”

The concern in my voice is noticeable. I’m preparing myself to hear that something terrible has happened.

“Her father called me today…”

This isn’t helping any. Who else but her father would deliver the call to all the ex-boyfriends after a girl has died?

“…he says that you left a bruise on Teresa. That you pinched her.”

“OOOOooohhhh! HAHAHAHA!!!”

I’m not mocking the situation, but to go from “your friend is dead” to “you’re in trouble for pinching a girl” is quite a swing.

My father is taken aback. It’s either surprise, or unhappiness that I’m not responding the way he probably imagined.

I try to explain to him how the last couple minutes had sounded, and he seemed to appreciate it, but didn’t waiver far from his original intent: to give me a talking to about pinching girls. We tried to salvage the conversation, and I assured him that I meant no harm, that I’m not a bully and that I understand the gravity of giving a girl a bruise.

The next day I show up to school and Teresa is afraid to talk to me. Apparently she was very mad at her dad for calling mine. While she didn’t like being pinched until bruising, I don’t think she was ready for what she would see as the embarrassment of getting me in trouble.

I certainly understand her father’s point of view. If any punk kid had left a mark on my daughter, I’d be making some calls too. Imagine his surprise if someone had told him that in a year or so his daughter would bring that same boy home, bright pink hair and all, calling him her boyfriend. Worse still, in a few more she’d bring a ring home and tell her parents she was engaged.

I don’t know if my father-in-law has ever heard this side of the story. It makes me wonder if Noah will ever cause some poor girl’s parents this much drama. Or if I’ll ever flub up a few words and make him think his friends are dead.

Hmm…I should probably try that at least once.