Turning the Page on Another Year/Made of Scars

Posted: 13/09/2015 in Uncategorized

I’m gearing up for another road trip following my birthday to Ohio.  According to the almighty Facebook, I was born on September 14th, 1941.

I look great for my age, and time flies.  I’d like to think that it’s the slow descent into senility that makes me forget a few days here and there.  It could be booze, or it could be that I like to remember some things so much more than others, so I focus more energy into remembering select feelings.

I digress.

There’s a scar on my forehead near my brow that I received one night after one too many margaritas at a place in Toledo, Ohio named El Camino.  I had made friends with a group of Air Force guys at a nearby table and they started what looked like a rite-of-passage type of thing between the circle of them involving locking arms and head-butting each other.  They invited me into the activity and the first few guys to do this very odd activity (I considered this an “odd activity” because when I was much younger I wanted to get into that particular branch of the military & was informed that it was supposedly the “brains” of the military branches–in our current story, this is not the case considering the self-inflicted potential concussions that were influenced by alcohol) were around my age.  It was a painful endeavor, even with the margaritas that were rumored around town to be spiked with high-proof grain alcohol.  I believe it was after the third head butt that an older man(perhaps in his fifties) sidled up as the younger guys moved aside in a definitive act of respect and offered to join in the activities, starting with me.  As it stood, the everclear margaritas and headbutts I had endured already seemed to turn my brain into a soft jelly, much like watching ten hours of reality television, and so I had no choice but to accept the offer of an obviously seasoned active military higher up.  As we locked arms, he gave me one last mangled smile, and we counted the three-count that led to the blows to the craniums.  He was fast & put his head down just enough to hit with what I imagined would be the point of his forehead, the target being right between my eyes.  He managed right above, just to the left–and quickly it was realized how much of a blood thinner alcohol was.  I saw red literally with the blood that was freely flowing down my face like a waterfall.  The only positive was that I didn’t fall, I didn’t falter.  I kept eye contact with the older officer and as we disengaged, he pulled me in a bit more as if to give a “good job, kid…” type of embrace.  The group helped clean me up and we kept a wet napkin soaked in the margarita on the split in my head as the next pitcher came.  I’ve never seen them again, but they gave me the best thing that I could ask for: a story that isn’t something that I’ll forget, and that is life in a nutshell.

I’m not going to bore you with the reality of how old I am.  What I am going to bore you with is a little bit of introspective, a little piece of what I’ve learned over the years.  I’m positive that I will learn a lot more, and I’m less than positive that many of you have the time to read this, much less mind the ramblings of the protagonist in this jumble of words.

I will say that I came kicking & screaming into this world after X amount of hours of labor(depending on how upset I made my Mom), and my first memory is being trapped in a barn on my second birthday in a bear trap, my only view was the storm that raged outside between two almost-shut barn doors, with my screams & crying leading my Mother to me & wrenching me from a machine that had a lot of torque, but was no match for a Mother’s adrenaline.

Before you go nuts & say that there was a level of irresponsibility involved in letting a two-year old run around a barn unattended, remember times were different then.  People weren’t as scared as they are now.  I think that feeds into the irrational fearlessness I typically have now.

There’s a scar on my shoulder that vines come out of.  No, really.  Well, they’re tattooed vines, but they come from an unzipped scar(the zipper is also a tattoo).  I’ve got some of the most fun friends you’ll ever know.  Some of that is for the fact that they can endure me most times, a lot of that is just because they are just great people.  Josh’s basement was a place to have jam sessions, sing songs, and drink.  It was a place to just go crazy, have fun, and go unabashed with energy.  One night, we did all of this.  We played some music, we sang some songs, and then we jumped around like we were the best mixed martial arts people ever.  We also drank a decent bit.  At some point, we were wrestling around and I attempted a rear naked choke hold on my friend Brian(I was not naked).  I misread something, and he flipped me over his shoulder, landing me shoulder-first on the carpeted concrete basement floor.  I didn’t hear the crack.  I got up, moved to sit on the couch, and sat there in a cold panic sweat, knowing something was wrong.  Dennis came home & thought it was a shoulder dislocation, so I bit on my hoodie while he pulled a few times on my arm.  I definitely didn’t expect my clavicle to be broken.  My girlfriend at the time had her parents come by because her dad is an occupational therapist & can detect range of motion problems and such.  Needless to say, I continued drinking to numb the pain.  He wasn’t completely sure what the actual problem was, but there was a problem, and so her parents took me to the ER at 2 or so in the morning(it was probably later, because I recall looking at the car clock & realizing how horrible it seemed that I was unabashedly drunk and this would go down in the doctor’s log book as just another idiot drinking heavily, which I was actually fed a lot of the drinks after the injury to numb pain).  The final diagnosis was that the clavicle was broken, I needed surgery(a couple of times in order to put a metal bar in my shoulder & then take it out…AWESOME!!!), and then I’d need physical therapy.  After getting cut open a couple of times for the metal prosthetic, my Mom suggested that I should draw up a tattoo of a zipper.  I did, and added the vine on my arm to symbolize regrowth.  Also, the fact that I won’t ever do that again/I will hold on tighter.

My Dad got his only speeding ticket in the days after(which, if I recall correctly, he got overturned).  He also won a golf tournament.

I was a miracle baby of sorts, and what made it a bit more interesting was the fact that my Mother had her tubes tied prior to me.  The story goes that she fell out of the hay mow feeding the horses(by the barn & horses references, I’m sure you’ve surmised that I grew up on a farm by now) and nine months later, there I was.

In my years, I’ve had many jobs, fallen away from friendships or groups, missed numerous chances for things I could have done differently if I threw away the scared thoughts and showed my passions on my face.  I’ve loved a few times, I’ve lost a lot.  I’ve failed a marriage, and I had high hopes on low expectations of myself.  I’ve had too many close friends that have passed away before their time, and many times I have started arguments that weren’t worth the words shouted.  I’ve had a history that is wrought with some bad memories like a piece of swiss cheese that has too many holes in it.

I have known a lot of people.  I’ve managed to take fantastic trips to famous places like New Orleans(a few times), Las Vegas, Detroit, Washington D.C., and to places less known like Luray, Kansas; Hell, Michigan; & Athens, Ohio.  Many of those trips on a whim, while some were planned.  I’ve been obliterated & alone on Beale Street in Memphis and stone cold sober taking my Dad to D.C. to check out Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert perform their “Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear” alongside so many bands.  I smoked cigarettes with my Mom for years, and a week after she stopped, so did I(it’s been nearly four years).

There’s a scar on my left leg from a fifth-grade camp out with a friend that didn’t know how to put away a pocket knife correctly, so it just kind of dropped there.  Duct tape is awesome, except when your Mom finds out that you mitigated the injury.

I learned that I loved cooking years ago with my Mom & cultivated that feeling in a lot of the restaurants that I worked at.  I learned to work with a lot of vegan options with my ex-wife Melissa’s father Patrick.  I’ve moved more than many people do in a couple of lifetimes, gaining me access to new people, new experiences, new horizons.  There have been so many nights that I stare at the stars in wonder and sit at the beach to watch the sun rise in awe.

I’ve worked at a lot of places, but I’ve always worked my way up the ranks quickly by means of my hard work ethic.  My first job was bailing hay.  I remember the cuts I’d get on my forearms that burnt and the feeling in my muscles the days following that felt so good.

There’s a scar on my left-hand middle finger because someone thought it would be fun to tap the top of my beer bottle with their own to make the beer come out of the top fast, but the bottle in my hand shattered.  It’s fine; the blood was on my hands.  And they bought me another beer.

I’ve been learning to navigate by my moral compass more and more and to stand up for my beliefs over the years.  It’s amazing how those beliefs are so organic in the way they shift over years, like a river rushing to the sea.  The morals I had years ago have faded into oblivion and have mutated into what I am today.

And it’s not all about me.

It’s about you.

It’s about us.

If we’re friends on Facebook, you know that I post a lot & I post random things that are, very much so, random.  They are important to me & they don’t necessarily have to be to you and I appreciate that.  I’d hate to push anyone to do something they wouldn’t enjoy, but I’d much rather inspire or enlighten others.  You can take it for a grain of salt or a mountain of clay.  If anything, I’m more than happy to have a discussion with the most carnivorous, gun-toting, Kardashian-loving, etc., etc., individual out there.  I’m working my way past the whole judging stage, I just want to understand.  I’d love to educate if that’s a possibility.  If not, then fine, let’s talk about our scars and the things that made us.  But let’s try to learn something from each other.  Because I’ve learned a lot from you.

I’m forever thankful for what you’ve done to me.  You could have said hello on the street(that still means a lot to me, even if you’re a stranger), complimented something someone did in front of me, you could have been the person to open my eyes to something I hadn’t yet thought about in a critical manner.  You could have been there for me to sit with in New Orleans right after Katrina and share stories & never to be seen again, or you could be the person I see on a daily basis at work that I try to inspire.  You could be the person that I’ve never met reading this and decide to take a trip to somewhere, just for an adventure because you read this & felt my passion.  You could be my best couple of friends or the friends I had years ago, the ex’s that I learned from(despite what it may have seemed).  You could still be here in this existence we share or physically passed on.

But you made me who I am.

And I’m a better person because of you.

Thank you all so much.

Oh yeah….and there’s a scar on my left thumb from a watermelon that I was cutting in half.  Cut myself down to the bone & tendon.  I didn’t go to the hospital because there was something to do.  I was entertaining guests and duct tape worked fine, even though I did have concerns over the range of motion initially.

 

(This one is dedicated to Nick Tokles 1951-2015, that boss that once told me “If you can’t duct it, fuck it.”  Rest in peace, Cheese.)

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