I finally replaced my computer that died in December, so I should be posting more soon. Today's post is probably going to have very little to do with retail since I am on vacation this week. Sorry.
I turned 38 yesterday. I am incredibly shocked I have lived this long. When I was in high school, I always believed that I would never live past 30. So you can imagine me laying awake the night of my 30th birthday, waiting in terror for the lightning bolt that was going to take me out. At the time, I don't recall if I was relieved it didn't happen, or disappointed. Now I am glad it didn't. But it still scares me every year on the night before my birthday. I mean, what if I was off in my count? The night before I turn 40 is going to be a real nail biter, that's certain.
The last few days have brought me into contact with some people I figured I would never hear from again, or if I did, it would be at high school or college reunions. A couple of them have just sent messages online, others have taken the time to chat. I am grateful for both. And I look forward to hearing from more people. Hopefully, they will see I have grown (I hope I have), and I hope they see their influence on me over time. I may not have talked to them over the years for various reasons, but there really hasn't been a time when I wasn't thinking of them.
The people who have found me (or been crazy enough to let me contact them) have been amazing.
I ran found my old speech/debate coach from high school, a man I highly respect. He took the time to have faith and work with someone with very little talent and gave that person the belief that anything is possible. Thank you, Mickey Martin (Bet you forgot how we tormented your Mickey tie all those years ago!).
My college roommate and I traded emails for the first time in 15 years. Kegger appears to be doing great. Still bleeds SMC Blue and Red, which is as it should be. I don't know that he ever had a bad day at SMC. And I bet he still has some great college stories for his friends and family. Of course, he figures large in several of my best memories from SMC, but those are for another time.
Another friend took the time to get me into contact with other friends. Her road through life seems to mirror mine. Some rough times, some really great times, and finally coming to terms with everything and just enjoying each day while trying to better herself. Talking to her really made me think about everything I went through in high school, and that I had to come to terms with things. Point Blank, she set the example. Thank you.
I was shocked to learn that people from both the high schools I attended are close to where I live. I would love to sit down over coffee with them and just talk. I can tell they have some amazing stories to tell, and I would love to listen.
Another friend was found for the second time. The Bishop and I reconnected some ten years ago via my ex in Kansas City. She had told me I would love her boss's husband. Turns out he and I went to high school together and were involved in drama at the same time. When she and I split, I lost contact with the Bishop and his wife. Last night, I got to talk to both of them. I plan on not losing contact with these people this time!
I sat around last night looking on Facebook at some of the profiles of people I remember from high school and college. Married, Doctor's degrees, families... it just makes me understand that I grew up around a ton of really remarkable people. I have been lucky.
I don't think my road has been anything special. I really do think I am like a lot of people. I had my problems, but I had my highs as well. My lows include a couple of suicide attempts, some failed engagements, a dream destroyed while out running, loss of some really great friends, a bought with alcohol, and just overall abusing myself. I don't see myself as anything special, just another person. No matter what image I portray, it's how I have always thought of myself. Nothing special, and truth be told, probably a little less than most.
For years I was told (and diagnosed) with depression. One "family" member even played amateur psychologist and told me to work out the issues with my father (imagine his surprise when my real doctor told him HE was the issue, not my father, and that I had actually done a really nice job dealing with that mess!). About 4 years ago, after a stint in a mental hospital for a suicide attempt, a doctor realized that my problem wasn't depression. I suffer from an anxiety disorder that causes depression and SERIOUS panic attacks. Since that revelation, I have been depression free (aside from the normal ups and downs of everyday life). That doctor saved my life.
I had three engagements blow up in my face. The first was just a mess after I graduated college. To this day, I think I was just being used to get back at her old boyfriend. I don't talk to her anymore (haven't since 1994), so I will never know. Not sure I really care, either. The next was with me for 4 years. We lived together, had everything planned. Then she decided she wanted to be alone. I later discovered she was seeing someone from her work. End of that. The third I caught with a friend in a compromising position. Trust became a bit difficult for me at that point. Still is, but my current fiancee is working on it.
I have been a physical wreck in my mind. Five knee operations since 1992, an elbow operation a couple of years ago, and now the doctors are telling me that there is a chance they will have to operate on my shoulder to clean it up (but they are trying to prevent that). I have put on too much weight, which I am hoping to lose this year, but I don't expect miracles. I just hope to improve myself.
The highs have been great as well. I did some skydiving. I have travelled most of this country. I have met and made friends all over the world. I have been living my sports dream of seeing games (NFL, MLB and NHL) in as many cities as I can. I am engaged to the most wonderful woman in the world, even if we drive each other crazy. Somehow, it just wouldn't be right if we didn't drive each other bunny nuts.
My dreams out of high school were to go into the Marines, complete with a stint at the Naval Academy. That didn't happen when I blew my knee out. Backup plans were to get a degree in Performing Arts and possibly act or direct, and eventually get a law degree. I got the first degree and I worked as a Tech Director of a Dance company for two years. I lived the acting side of it doing regional work for a couple of years before realizing the job I had taken to pay the bills was what I truly enjoyed. I now work a job that many think is below me, but that's their perception and problem. I love retail. I love the people. I love the insanity.
The most important thing I have done in my life is to come to terms with myself. I am who I am. Deal with it. I have finally learned how to do just that.
I hope that some of the classmates, old work acquaintances and friends will see this and get in touch. I offer no apologies for the past, nor do I want any for actions from them. Those actions made us who we are. I will not deny the past. I will learn from it daily.
I will say one thing... thanks to all of you. For the highs and lows. And for what may come.
Dreams come and go. So when one fails, dream a new dream.