Tag Archives: Nostalgia

It Seemed Like A Good Idea

16 Feb

All of us awesome editors over at IndieInk recently got together and threw down the gauntlet geeky writer style. What am I talking about? Simple. A challenge. A modern day duel, if you will. We decided to play a little game and challenge each other on the weekly with anonymous writing prompts. Think of it as You Got Served, but with less rhythm and more nerdy white kids.

This week, my writing prompt is, well, challenging.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Okay, so I *wanted* it to be a good idea.”

A challenging writing challenge? Well, I’ll be damned!

****

Underneath this mess, there is pure unadulterated emotion.

But you’ll never know it.

You’ll never catch a glimpse of love, anger, happiness, guilt, elation, or even sadness.

My expressionless face is strong and fiercely robotic.

Or so I’ve been told.

You see, I wasn’t always like this. As a kid, I vividly remember expressing each and every emotion my heart could handle. It came naturally. I wanted the people that surrounded me to know exactly how I felt. If I loved you, I wanted to tell you I loved you. If I was happy, you could hear my laughter from miles and miles away. The simplicity of life allowed my emotions to take control. Logic was no longer a factor. Content with the smile on my face, I allowed myself to just be.

Until he died.

I can still see the frailty of his bones outline his figure as his paper thin skin stretched out across his ravaged body. The chemo and dialysis had taken its toll. As I watched the hospice nurse sit in a chair next to his bed, I knew this was the end.

Struggling to comprehend that each labored breath could be his very last, my ten year old mind broke. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t covey the emotions running haywire through my brain. The direct link between my heart and mind had crumbled. In that moment, I turned cold.

Two days later, he was gone.

What was this pain I felt in every limb of my own body? Why did I want to cry and vomit at the same time? Frantically, I searched for a way to eliminate all that hurt and confused me. I didn’t know how to ask the questions needed to cope. I didn’t know how I should react. Defeated, I just shut down.

It was all I could do. Just shut down every emotion I was used to. Keep everything inside so I could never be hurt again. I never wanted to feel this way. And I would be damned if I would let it happen.

Shutting down seemed like a good idea at the time. I wanted desperately for it to be. Hell, I needed it to be. But how do you come back from that? I am 31 years old now. Two decades have passed and I still find myself trapped inside my own mind. Even to this day, if I even so much as find myself thinking of that moment, I completely shut down.

He was still in his bed the last time I saw him. He didn’t even know I was there.

I was just a boy.

A boy, broken by reality.

 

The Day My Life Changed

17 Jan

As the very first cries came from your tiny lips, I found myself lost in you. Up until this point, I had been nervously and anxiously awaiting your arrival for what seemed like an eternity. All of the sudden, you were here in my arms. I could hear your voice, your screams as they alerted my soul to your long-awaited entrance into this world. With my hands trembling, I brushed aside your whimpers with nothing more than a simple stroke of your hair.  Seconds later, you were asleep. A moment in time, frozen in my mind for the rest of my life.

Five years have passed since that cold winter day. I’ve watched you transform into this brilliant, kind, and loving human being. As eager as I am to teach you everything I know, you have been the one to show me all that is right in this world.

In many ways, you are all me. From the way you get frustrated at the smallest of things, to the way you walk, to the way use your hands when you are trying to illustrate your point. But as we are one in the same, we are different as well. You have taught me things that nobody else could ever even possibly do. I watch you interact and love without fear. I watch you make your mother laugh and cry with happiness in the very same moment. I watch you take your sister’s hand and lead her through this world with a passion and devotion like I have never seen. These not so little things seem to be so natural for you. And that warms the inner most part of my soul.

You don’t know it, but as I watch you, I am learning. With each one of your actions, you teach your father the simplest of things he should have already known. I know in the future, you’ll get frustrated with me. You’ll want me to just understand and pick up the simplicity of life the way you do. Just know that I am working on it. I am a slow learner as far a life is concerned. But I know that I’ll get it sooner or later. I have one of the best teachers a man could ask for.

Five years  ago to this very day my life changed for forever. It’s uncanny and heartwarming for me to witness this perfect human being make his way through life. I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am.

Happy Birthday, son. I love you more than these words could ever convey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Silence That Torments

4 Jan

The silence in this house screams out the obvious.

I am alone.

Over the years, I thought about what this moment would feel like. Just me. Just me and this old couch. I would fantasize about the silence. I would glorify this very moment over and over in my head, a simple idealized serenity played out in a million daydreams. I’d speed home through rush hour traffic and anxiously count down the seconds while the garage door opened. As my hand turned the knob to the six panel door, I would feel the stillness of the house invade me like a virus. The solitude would invigorate and refresh my soul. Through the silence, I could breath again.

Or so I thought.

No sooner did my worn sneakers cross the threshold, I knew I was wrong. Gone were the scurry of little feet to great me at the door. Gone were the giggles and adoring salutations that coincided with my mere presence on a nightly basis. Gone was that rush of adrenaline that filled my veins as the first “HI DADDY!” graced my ears.

Gone.

I didn’t even make it to the living room before the first tear rolled down my cheek. The silence that I once coveted, now tormented me more than I thought possible. As I sank my body further and further into the couch, my heart began to pound. I could feel the droplets of panic drip from my brow onto the pillow that I clutched like a lifesaver as if I just abandoned ship. There in the darkness, I was alone.

Petrified.

Paralyzed by the unfamiliarity of my self induced solitude, I closed my eyes. This would be my resting spot for the night. The couch that I dreamt about so many times before, now felt like it was made of concrete. For the first time in thirty years, I was alone.

Just me.

Just this couch.

Alone.

The Finality Of My Failures

27 Dec

As you bent over to pick up the very last box, I heard you let out a long, weary sigh. Most days, I wouldn’t have even paid attention to it. Something so simple, just a part of the daily barrage of sounds that tend to get lost in the background or ignored because you fear their true meaning. But today, as I heard that whisper hover over your pursed lips, it hit my eardrums with a deafening ferocity. It was time. And we both knew it.

You didn’t know I was listening.

But I was.

It probably didn’t even cross your mind something that tiny would resonate to my inner core.

But it did.

Yet, here we were, both lost in our own little worlds. In a matter of minutes, you’d be in the car, watching the garage door shut through the rear view mirror as you drove off. Nearly a decade’s worth of memories reduced to a box, a  glance of an eye, and an auditory reminder of the finality of my failures.

As your arms wrapped around that box, you let out a sigh.

A sigh. A simple, gut-wrenching sigh.

30 Days Of Truth: Day Thirteen

7 Dec

Day 13- A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)

I can still hear your smooth and sexy melodies as if it were the first time my ears heard such heaven on Earth. As I laced up my roller skates, I could feel the bass from the speakers resonate through my body. It was time. Time to get my groove on. And then you spoke to me. And it went a little something like this.

“I’ve been waiting all night
So just let me hold you close to me
‘Cause I’ve been dyin’ for you girl
To make love to me”

So simple, yet so powerful. My eleven year old mind totally knew exactly what you were trying to convey. You wanted to make love. You possibly were sick because you were dying. Maybe you got shot? Maybe you had some rare cancer? You were dying. That was sad. And yet, all you wanted to do was make love to this girl. You wanted to make out with her. Tell her she’s pretty. Take her to church. Maybe, just maybe, a little up the shirt action. I wouldn’t get your hopes up though. I mean, you were DYING. And that was still really sad. Still, above all your pain, you just wanted to kiss and hug this girl. At eleven years old, I could totally respect that.

I am thirty years old now. A long time has passed since I first heard your words of wisdom. Many moons have risen in the sky. I have, indeed, had my fair share of said “up the shirt action”. So, I guess a thank you is in order. Thanks to you, I know how to officially sex somebody up. Thanks to you, Color Me Badd, I know how to make a woman feel real good and possibly, just possibly do it ’til we both wake up. Although, I am not really sure what you meant by that. But trust me, your advice did not fall on deaf ears. I now have sex awake ALL the time. No more sleep fucking for me. That’s what you were trying to tell me to do, right? Stay awake? Make her stay awake too? Yeah, I thought so.

So, here’s to you Color Me Badd. I owe all my sexual prowess to you. I cannot thank you enough. And whenever I’m feeling oh so very naughty, I just add and extra “D” to the end of bad. Why? Simple. That always lets my lover know exactly what I am thinking. I’m BADD and she knows it.

 

 

30 Days Of Truth: Day Eleven

15 Nov

Day 11- Something people seem to compliment you the most on.

I can see you wipe the tears from your face as they run down your cheeks and onto your lips. But for once, you aren’t sad or even angry with me. It’s hard for you to catch your breath as the tears completely distort your vision. Through labored breaths, your chest and abs scream out in pain. It’s the good kind of pain though. The kind of hurt you would gladly take any day. It’s been awhile since I have seen you like this. Truly a nostalgic time warp back to simpler times.

The sound radiating from your mouth fills me with great joy. You’re laughing. I can hear it with my own two ears. Not just a little chuckle either. No, this is one of those giant belly laughs. The kind that involve every muscle in your body. Every neuron in your mind fires with happiness. As the sound of your laugh carries through this empty house, I know I have done my job. I don’t need to search for proof. It’s there right in front of my face. No guessing the emotion coming from your mind. No faking, no charades. This moment is as real as the smile that graces your lips.

I know this moment will fade as fast as it came on. Gone will be that smile, those tears of happiness. The harsh realities of the world will come crashing down on top of us. But as we sit here on this couch, I’m concentrating on hearing and feeling this happen right before me.  My mind refuses to allow anything else in. I’m frozen in that very moment.

You were laughing.

I was laughing.

And for that one second, nothing else mattered.

 

30 Days Of Truth: Day Nine

10 Nov

Day 09 → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.

After she lifted the last heavy box onto the bed of the U-Haul truck, I felt my mother’s cool hands on my face. The Midwestern heat and humidity were relentlessness and ultimately unforgiving. I could see a constant stream of sweat trickle down my forehead and onto the backside of her hands as I struggled to catch my breath. My lungs struggled as I tried to inhale the hot, damp summertime air. “This is going to be an awesome thing for us.”, she said unwaveringly. At this point I had already resigned to the fact we were moving again. We were truly a nomadic family of three. We went where the rent was the cheapest and the luxuries pretty much nonexistent. This time was different though. We had actually managed to buy a house. No more apartments. No more duplexes. Another new beginning, a way to restart.

I knew my mother was elated. I could sense the hurry and eagerness as I saw her open the van door. As happy as I was for her, I was crushed. I mean, I was so used to moving. I knew that we had overstayed our typical welcome in this particular place. Still, I had spent the last 3 years of my very young life accumulating, what I thought, was the best group of friends a boy could have. Filled with sorrow, I rattled off at least 20 people I was sure I couldn’t live without seeing the next day.

“But, but mom!”, I cried. “Can’t we just stay one more year? At least let me finish middle school here.” “I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to (insert random person here).” By this point, I had done everything within my power to sway her decision. No matter how much I begged, pleaded, and bargained, the move was happening. Defeated, I pull myself up into the van and plopped down onto the searing hot vinyl bench seat.

Lost in thought and selfish sadness, I heard the dull roar of the diesel engine fire up as my mom turned the key. As quickly as she shifted from park to drive, my life was changing. A new house, a new school, and all new friends. I can still remember the view from the rear view mirror like it was yesterday. I never wanted to leave that place, but it was time for us to go. I didn’t want to let go of everything I knew. But as fast as that U-Haul van could take me, I just drifted away.

30 Days Of Truth: Day Eight

8 Nov

Day 08 → Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.

As I sit at this table surrounded by the other kids, I can feel their stares burning into my skin. Surely their whispers and giggles are directed at me. My face starts to boil as my blood pressure skyrockets. With multicolored construction paper and Elmer’s Glue-All in my hand, my mind starts to wander. What did I do? Why are they laughing at me? It must be this shirt I’m wearing. I told my mom it was too tight. I can feel the tag underneath my shirt digging into my skin. As my body temperature rises, my shirt feels like sandpaper against my skin. With tears welling up in my weary eyes, I can see the teacher approaching me. Her grin mocks me as I sink further into my chair. Why is she laughing too? Did the other kids tell her about my shirt? As her cool hand brushed against my shoulder, I heard her speak.

“Good job, TJ. Very nice!”

“Huh? What? I’m doing a good job?” With a puzzled tone to my five year old voice, I blurted these things out to her.

“How can this be? The other kids were laughing at me. I could hear the whispers in the background. I could see you laughing at me as well.”

I could feel her hand grip my shoulder tightly. As she bent down to make eye contact with me, my mind started to race. This was it. I was in trouble. She didn’t think I was doing a good job at all. In fact, she rather hated me. With tears streaming down my face with an unapologetic flow, I could feel the point where her eyes met mine.

“I think that’s all in your head, sweetheart.”

She spoke with a motherly and calming tone. Her words were absolute and confusing to the five year old mind. What does she mean? All in my head? As I wiped the tears from my cheeks and buried myself into the art project at hand, my mind began to race. Lost in thought, I went the rest of the day trying to wrap exactly what she said around my head.

They say you learn all you need to know in life in kindergarten. All the social skills and tricks of the trade are learned and imprinted into your mind the very first year of school. I didn’t know it at the time, but I learned more about myself on the first day of kindergarten than I would learn in the next 15 years. The darkness of my own mind far outweighs what anyone else could ever do to me. I alone can make my life a living hell. My own mind has the ability to belittle, cast doubt, and make up an alternate reality at the same time. The loathing, the worry, and second guessing are all my own doing.

Even today, I fully understand that I am truly my own worst enemy. There isn’t a soul on this Earth that could inflict hell on me like I already do to myself. I would love to think I have changed, that I am a better person for learning this about myself at such an early age. The truth? I’m still that little boy sitting at the table full of kids. I’m still wondering what they are laughing at, still wondering why they are whispering about me.

And Elsewhere

5 Nov

Links make the world go ’round. I who am I to stop the world from rotating? So, in the interest of planetary safety, I give you the links!

This week at MamaPop:

Tuesday’s Post: HIMYM Season Six Recap: Episode 7 “Canning Randy”

Thursday’s Post: ANTM Cycle 15 Recap: Episode 9 “Margherita Missoni

 

This week at Draft Day Suit:

Friday’s Post: National Title For Mizzou? It Will Never Happen

 

 

 

 

And I was very lucky to land on Schmutzie’s Five Star Friday list this week for a personal post. A very good week indeed!

Check out Five Star Friday:

Five Star Friday’s 125th Edition Is Brought To You By John Milton

 

 

 

 

 

30 Days Of Truth: Day Four

20 Oct

Day 04- Something you have to forgive someone for.

My mom said it was cold that day. A typical day for the brutal Midwestern winter climate. As he shut the door, my little sister began to cry. She was only a few months old at the time. At the ripe old age of two, I became the man of the house. With my defenses already up, I knew I had a job to do. My mother and my sister needed me now. It was time to be a man.

I know what you are thinking, “How can a two-year old be a man?” I don’t recall much before the age of  five, but my mother tells the story well. There are pictures to prove it. The old weathered photographs tell the story with an unapologetic bluntness. It’s 3:00am, my pure blond  hair disheveled by hours of resting on my Sesame Street pillowcase. I sit on the couch trying my damnedest to assist my mother with the nightly chore of raising an infant on her own. As she passes my sister to me to rest on my lap, a huge smile breaks through the darkness of the night. My mother, with her heart filled with a wicked balance of hurt, sadness, and unwavering love, brings a tiny camera to her eye. I could hear her count down and direct me to say “cheese!” In an instant, that memory was captured forever. My cheesy grin, my sister on my lap, the happiness I felt inside, all permanently displayed on a 4×6 piece of Kodak paper.

The tiny two bedroom apartment in Davenport, Iowa was more than just a place to rest our heads. In all actuality, it was the beginning of us. The whitewashed walls and  brown shag carpeting had no clue what type of force had just been born. From that point on it was just the three of us. No time to look back at what just happened as he shut the door on us. No time to dwell on things we couldn’t change.

As I got older, I started to ask questions. “Where is he?”, I would sheepishly ask my mother. Her response was always the same. Always lighthearted and straight to the point. “He’s gone. It’s just us now, TJ.” Oddly, this was super comforting to me. I knew that I was in the best hands possible. I knew that no matter what, everything was going to be just fine.

The years passed by and as quickly as he left, my memory of him faded. From time to time I would stumble upon an old box of photos. The smiles were strikingly familiar, a person frozen in time for me to have some basis of my biological history.

By the time I was a teenager, I became more and more forgetful that having a father around wasn’t the social norm. My mother fit the bill quite nicely. She had already taught me how to throw a ball, how to shave, how to spit, how to treat women, and ultimately how to love. Caught up in the intricacies of life, I had already learned from my mother how to be a man. She was my best friend, the one person I could count on, and as I stood up to recite my vows in front of hundreds, she was also my best man.

When I started to write this, I intended to forgive him. Wash away many years of wonder, doubt, and hatred. But as I sit here, pounding on this keyboard, I realize that forgiving him would mean that I was missing something in the first place. Forgiving him would be anointing him a kind of power that he doesn’t deserve. I’ve been privy to heartache, divorce, and all kinds of emotional roller coasters. But I always had stability. No matter the circumstances I always had love. I had a mother and a sister that through thick and thin, would prop me up and idolize me in ways no other human beings could. My childhood was a happy one. I never needed anything else. I always had a roof over my head and a smile on my face. Wanting or craving anything more would just be plain greedy.

And to him, I don’t forgive you. Actually, I thank you. Leaving us was the best thing you could have ever done. Don’t believe me? Well, I have the pictures to prove it.

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