I went to my dad’s grave this weekend. It was his 60th birthday. While there I realized that life is nothing more than a series of memories. Some are good and some are bad, connect them all and you have a life. Each memory has had some impact on the ones following it, changing and altering the path your life has taken. In honor of this, here are some of the favorite moments of my life. Each has been responsible in some little way for pulling the bow that when released became the arrow of my life (what a metaphor right!) Here we go:
— When I was 6 or 7 I used to walk the trails with my mom and dad in the woods behind our house and collect fallen leaves. We’d take the leaves and save them between sheets of wax paper. In the winter we’d sled ride down the hills in those same trails. (If that was a little too cookie cutter for you hang on, they get better.)
–In my basement I had a play room set up. There was a little sliding board and play center that you could crawl under as well as various other toys, big wheels, etc. We used to have a lot of the neighborhood kids come over and play in that basement. Two of the neighborhood girls used to come over with their parents a lot. While the parents hung out upstairs we’d go down and play in the basement. At some point I figured out that I could arrange games where the girls would lift their shirts for the games. Once I realized that it was possible to have girls show me some skin the die was cast and my life was set on a path I still haven’t recovered from. My poor wife can attest that!
— In 1984 I bought a copy of the novel 1984. I don’t know what made me purchase it. It was obviously a book that was too old for me and its themes were ones I shouldn’t possibly have been able to grasp at such a young age. Nonetheless, I remember reading that novel sitting on the stair leading up to my house from our driveway, being more than half way finished with the book and realizing that I was no longer reading the book with my own voice but that of the main character. I realized then the magic of the written word and of novels, of escapism and the possibilities of dreams. I was also the start of reading books slightly above my age level. I can remember in 7th grade having several books taken from me by one particular teacher because she disapproved of the way the girls were dressed on the sci-fi covers or the description of particular scenes.
— In 9th grade I started wrestling. I started because my goal was to become a professional wrestler. At 14 you don’t have many choices, you can either wrestle Greco-Roman style or try and get people to wrestle studio wrestling style in your back yard. I did both. I was pretty bad for the first few weeks but at some point something clicked. There was a particular zone I entered, I could feel the moves before they happened and was able to analyze my opponents moves in the split second they were happening. I became a great wrestler and loved everything about the sport, not just the actual wrestling but the training and practice that went with it. I went on to be a pretty good wrestler with a record of something like 18-2-1, conference champion on the conference championship team, etc. As an added bonus, because you had to have a C grade point average I became a much better student than I was previously.
— The summer of 1987 was unbearably hot in Connecticut. Many of my friends spent their time on buses traveling back and forth to the beach. I however discovered the book No One Here Gets Out Alive, the Jim Morrison biography. I spent every spare and free moment reading that book from cover to cover. Once I was finished I started over again. I stopped rereading it 3 or 4 years later after almost every phrase had been highlighted, every page dog eared and every single word memorized.
— After moving back from Pennsylvania we lived in a pretty beaten down old railroad town called Wall, PA. There was an old railroad bridge in front of my house and if you stood in the center of the bridge when trains rolled by it created the most amazing optical illusion, I can’t even begin to explain it but I’m sure it had something to do Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. If you had partaken of any mind altering substances it was even cooler.
— Around the same time there was a park across town. There was a swing set there. We were two old but would swing on those swings, again, after some mind altering substances and swing as high as possible while spinning in the seats. There was an amazing feeling at the very top of the arc, right before you started your decent, it felt like total freedom.
— I used to get butterflies in my stomach before I saw my high school girlfriend. I never knew that feeling before. Love, at least, high school love was new and exciting. Every woman I’ve ever loved has always given me some feeling like those butterflies, they’re all different, each has their own feeling of butterflies. I dated some pretty fun girls that didn’t give me butterflies by the way.
–The summer before college my girlfriend and I had broken up, I no longer really had any friends to speak of in the small town I lived. I had evolved from the person I was. I started to buy my clothes at the Salvation Army. I used to have a ¾ leather coat, the type of coat seen in Starsky and Hutch. I used to put on that coat, my old fashion shoes and my headphones and listen to what I considered alternative music like Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails while planning my escape from Middle America.
— Once in college I started dating a woman. We used to take microwave brownies, make the mix but not cook it, pop microwave popcorn, dip the popcorn and eat it. Nothing tasted better, especially after killing a few hours in her dorm room “studying”.
–While dating the same girl I would stay in her dorm room, usually “studying” until much, much too late. Our college had some weird rules and occasionally I would have to leave because someone turned me in for being there after cut off time and without having received a visitors pass. I’d spend the next several hours, those special hours when the sun and moon shook hands and the sky changed from black to blue walking around the city, especially a part called Market Square. I’d watch the storekeepers sweep their sidewalks, turn on or off their neon signs, turn chairs right side up, etc. Those hours had the most amazing smell of warm bread being baked. I can still smell that bread.
— One day my wife called me at work (she wasn’t my wife then just a woman I initially really liked to “study” with and then really liked to talk to and then talk and “study”.) She said she decided we should get married. I said great. Underwhelmed by response she meant that this was moving from the theoretical, that we were going to get a ring right away and get married as soon as possible. I was shocked because I didn’t marriage was in her plans. She was no longer underwhelmed by my response.
–Immediately following the birth of my son he was doing what babies do, crying. He wouldn’t stop until I spoke to him and then he instantly quieted. I like to think that it’s because he recognized my voice from when I spoke to him constantly through my wife’s stomach. Is that true, I have no idea but it’s what I believe.
So that’s it. You take these 12 moments or memories and mix in a whole lot more and you start creating a life. I look at these notes and think I’ve created a pretty special life for myself. I think it’s important to take stock now and again and think about the special times in your life. I also think it’s important to realize when the important memories are being created and to enjoy them as they unfold.